As ornaments are removed and Christmas trees are unceremoniously dragged from houses, turn to Christmas for Coho, a partnership program between a boy scout troop and Necanicum Watershed Council. These folks turn forgotten holiday trees into habitat for salmon.
For over a decade, local Boy Scout Troop 642 has collected trees and received donations to fundraise for summer camp. Through the seven year partnership with the local watershed council, the trees are now placed in permitted, Department of State Lands approved locations within the Necanicum Watershed as a way to improve habitat for salmonids, amphibians, and watershed health.
“Algae grows on the needles and branches within days of tree placement and it jump starts productivity in the system,” explained Melyssa Graeper, Watershed Council Coordinator for Necanicum Watershed Council. “The algae attracts aquatic insects which feed many species while the trees provide frys, and juvenile salmon additional shade and critical protection from predators.”
According to Graeper, the trees are an analog for small woody debris that can naturally be found in river systems with healthy stream-side vegetation. While many conservation projects focus on large wood placement as a way to improve salmon habitat, most logs used are de-limbed and de-barked. The collected Christmas trees provide similar natural functions as large branches and bows.
“We discourage people from attempting to place the trees by themselves. We carefully plan out where we place the trees in order to avoid causing damage to existing infrastructure, bridges and culverts,” said Graeper.
This year, collected trees will be placed at an existing habitat restoration site Coho Sanctuary. For over 20 years the private landowner who began Coho Sanctuary has worked to improve watershed health by providing off-channel habitat and alcoves critical for salmonid life cycles.
Graeper says, “This project is not just about habitat, it is about providing a learning opportunity for the boys, teaching them not only about the environment but also communication skills and how to work with their community.”
Seaside Boy Scout Troop 642 will be collecting trees January 6 and 7, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Seaside Outlets (1111 N. Roosevelt Drive in Seaside) and the Cannon Beach branch of Cannon Beach (107 Sunset Blvd in Cannon Beach). A suggested donation of $5 is gladly accepted.
In addition to the two drop-off locations, tree pick-up is available for residents in south Clatsop County up to Warrenton. To arrange a pick-up between January 2 – 7, call 503-717-9563. The suggested donation for tree pick-up is $8. All donated trees, wreaths and garlands must be free of ornaments, decorations, tinsel, plastic, metal wiring, and cannot be flocked.