Riverside County supervisors Tuesday authorized giving many of the Christmas trees collected this year by the county for recycling to a state program aimed at securing fish habitat.
"This is a pretty important thing. It helps the environment. It's a good program," Supervisor Marion Ashley said after voting with all four of his colleagues to support the effort.
The county's Department of Waste Management expects to collect around two tons of discarded trees in the post-holiday season and proposes to turn a large part of the haul over to the California Department of Fish and Game.
According to county officials, the DFG is attempting to fortify Lakes Elsinore, Gregory, Hemet and Perris to preserve small fish populations by protecting them from larger predatory fish.
"Trees are sunk to a depth of 10 to 15 feet in lakes that have very little vegetation to provide a place for the smaller fish to hide," according to a waste management document. "Each tree is drilled at the base, and a rope is tied to a concrete block weight and then sunk."
State officials expressed an interest in taking all the trees that the county cares to spare.
Supervisor John Benoit asked whether trees in the Coachella Valley would be included in the program, but Waste Management General Manager Hans Kernkamp said they wouldn't, apparently because of the distance from the lakes. Instead, the fallen timber will be recycled at a desert composting facility.
Every year, from December 26 until January 9, the county operates a recycling program in which discarded trees collected by waste management at curbsides and at the Lamb Canyon and Badlands landfills are transported to a green waste processing facilities for recycling. This season, many will go to the DFG.
Kernkamp reminded the public that the county waives all dumping fees for trees brought to the landfills.