The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages you to recycle and use your live Christmas tree to improve wildlife habitat in ponds and lakes once the holiday is over.

Fisheries Regional Supervisor Christopher Kennedy says trees placed in lakes and ponds give fish a place to hide from predators and thrive. Kennedy likens the addition of dead trees to fish habitat to how humans furnish our homes. It gives fish resting areas, shade and escape cover. The best depth is eight feet of water.

The Department of Conservation (MDC) is currently accepting used natural Christmas trees to create fish habitat in park and conservation areas in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties.

MDC Fisheries Management Biologist says the trees serve as an underwater condominium for fish.

“A lot of lakes we work with are manmade and there’s not much fish cover in them, so we have to figure out how to put fish habitat in those lakes,” said Meneau. “Christmas trees are one of the best ways to do that in winter.”

According to Meneau, the trees provide woody cover that makes excellent habitat for fish. They provide a food source for smaller fish, which draws in bigger fish and helps to boost a lake’s entire food chain.

“They also help young fish,” Meneau added, “because when the adults spawn their young can hide in those trees.”

According to the Conservation Department, the trees benefit some of the most popular fish that anglers like to pursue, including largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and crappie.

Since the fish typically spawn in shallow water, the trees are tied to cement blocks and submerged at depths of four-to-seven feet to give emerging fish easy access to their cover.

The department advises anglers to locate the trees while they’re still visible in the water, usually until mid-March, where fish will be plentiful well into the summer months.

Missourinet affiliate KWIX contributed to this report