Monday, January 07, 2013

More Like This, Please

Over the weekend, I came across this article and found myself smiling.  Not too much has made me smile so far this year, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Decades ago, the Colorado River was dammed in an attempt to control the flooding along its banks.  The damming was successful, but it had some unintended consequences.  Lake Havasu, which long had been the recipient of tree limbs and brush as a result of the flooding was now crystal clear.  Now that might not sound like a bad thing, but it was:  the fish in the lake nearly all died out because there wasn't a ready source of food (the decaying vegetation) nor a sanctuary for young fish to hide from predator larger fish.

Then, 1992, a plan was implemented to try to resolve the problem.  That plan involves Christmas trees.

Structures were formed by sinking PVC pipe, concrete sewer pipe and cinder blocks in 42 coves. Then, discarded Christmas trees were lashed together, weighted down and dumped around the structures. Piles of brush were added.

As the trees and brush decomposed, the pipe and concrete structure grew a biological skin of mosses and algae that was then colonized by insects. In addition to providing shelter, the Christmas tree structures also became a source of fish food. ...

It takes a Christmas tree five to six years to decompose under water. So each year, volunteers toss in as many as 500 additional trees and a thousand brush piles to replenish the reefs.

Part of the benefit of creating habitat with Christmas trees is that it's cheap — trash haulers are happy to unload onto others what they pick up at the curb.

The result is that the fish are back and the lake is healthy and diverse.  Fewer Christmas trees are going to landfillls, which is an added bonus.  The project has been sufficiently successful that other jurisdictions (including Riverside County in California) are planning similar ones.

I think that is pretty cool.  And, like I said, it made me smile.

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Blogger PurpleGirl said...

I'm not sure when it started but there are many hundreds of old NYC subway cars off the Delaware coast forming the foundation for reefs. The project has been so successful in creating an environment for fish and sea life that the area is now crowded. Other things could be used but the subway cars are free.

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the NW they put logs and rootwads into rivers and streams to improve fish habitat. Similar idea.


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