Wondering what to do with your tree now that Christmas is over? Let it sleep with the fishes!
The Missouri Department of Conservation is looking for families to donate their used natural Christmas trees for new fish habitats in St. Charles and in Creve Coeur Lake.
"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," says biologist Kevin Meneau. "Christmas trees are one of the best ways to do that in winter."
Woody trees make ideal habitats and food sources for smaller fish -- including bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and crappie -- boosting the lake's entire food chain.
"They also help young fish," Meneau says. "When adults spawn, their young can hide in those trees."
The conservation department submerges Christmas trees every year after the holiday season, building what they adorably call "the aquatic equivalent of an underwater condominium." The trees are tied to cement blocks and submerged four to seven feet deep.
Before you donate your tree, remove decorations, lights, garland and ornaments before dropoff. The fish don't need your holiday spirit.
Lake 34 in St. Charles' August A. Busch Conservation Area is particularly in need of new trees for fish habitats. Enter the park on Route D, two miles west of Highway 94, and follow the signs to the drop-off.
Or head to the Sailboat Cove Boat Ramp at Creve Coeur Lake, 13725 Marine Drive.
Trees are accepted through January 13, 2014.