January 10 2019

Help MetroParks “spruce” up Eastwood Lake by donating your used holiday trees

This January, Five Rivers MetroParks will be sinking hundreds of used holiday trees in Eastwood Lake to help the aquatic habitat flourish — and you can help by turning your tree into fish food!

The public is invited to drop off their bare holiday trees daily between Jan. 1- 13 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Eastwood MetroPark, 1401 Harshman Rd. Trees must be free of decorations such as lights, ornaments and tinsel and cannot be artificially dyed or painted.

“By sinking these trees, we’re adding a natural resource that will bolster the food chain starting at the lake’s lowest levels of life,” said MetroParks biologist Grace Dietsch. “It’s a belated holiday present to the inhabitants of Eastwood Lake and gives the public a way to recycle their used holiday trees for the benefit of all wildlife that visit Eastwood MetroPark.”

Located at Eastwood MetroPark, Eastwood Lake is a 185-acre lake and a favorite community destination for boating, fishing and paddling. However, the lake is not surrounded by forests, which can present a challenge for the animals that call Eastwood Lake home.

Typically, large trees in a forest shed branches, twigs and leaves, which fall into surrounding bodies of water. This natural debris provides food for tiny organisms and a place for baitfish to eat and hide from larger predators, such as bass.

MetroParks’ new holiday tree sinking will make up for the lack of a forest surrounding Eastwood Lake. The donated trees will act as a catalyst, creating much needed habitat for fish, as well as food for microscopic organisms.

The idea to sink used trees in the lake came after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources conducted its biennial fish survey. The findings indicated that the larger fish were not getting enough to eat; meaning baitfish populations weren’t abundant enough.

“The trees will allow fish a place to lay their eggs, which will create more baitfish that are food for predator fish, and a chance for smaller predator fish to get bigger,” said MetroParks outdoor recreation program specialist Kelly Kingery. “It’s a win-win, and it won’t take long before anglers see the difference the trees can make when they’re fishing at the lake.”

The trees will be bundled into groups of two or three, tied to cinder blocks — which Snyder Concrete generously donated — and submerged into the water. The bundles of trees will be sunk all around the lake, including closer to the shore. While this won’t affect boating activities, it will provide those who fish with more active fishing opportunities closer to shore.

Dietsch expects to see more action around the tree structures as soon as this spring, with activity peaking during the next few years.

“Anglers will want to concentrate their efforts on the edges of the sunken structures, as the larger predator fish will be cruising around the outsides,” Kingery said. “The best structures will be vertical, clustered and within three feet of the water’s surface, which will allow fish to swim all around them.”

A conservation agency, Five Rivers MetroParks’ mission is to protect the region’s natural heritage and provide outdoor experiences that connect people to nature. Partnering with local businesses for materials and engaging volunteers from Fisherman’s Headquarters and Miami Valley Fly Fishers to help sink the trees allows MetroParks to stretch its resources while meeting its mission.

“MetroParks protects more than 16,000 acres of land, but we don’t stop there,” said Dietsch. “Projects such as the fish structure enhancement are as beneficial for the wildlife as they are for recreationalists, and it’s a great way to get the public to participate in important local conservation efforts.”

To learn more about MetroParks’ conservation efforts, visit metroparks.org/conservation.


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