MONROE CITY, Mo. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking volunteers Saturday to help place recycled Christmas trees at the bottom of Mark Twain Lake to enhance fishing conditions.
The tree-placement program will begin at 9 a.m. at the John F. Spalding Recreation Area boat ramp, where discarded Christmas trees have been accumulating since the holiday season ended.
Volunteers using boats will bundle trees and sink them to the bottom of the lake, using concrete cinder blocks as weights. The sunken trees will create underwater habitat for fish.
Shelly Howald, a park ranger, said the submerged Christmas trees encourage the growth of algae and zooplankton, which serve as a food source for young fish.
"And where there are little fish, big fish seem to come and eat," Howald said.
As a result, the Christmas tree drop zones become favorite places for fishing.
"If you come and help, you can have firsthand knowledge" of where these popular "honey holes" are located, Howald said.
Those who can't make it, however, can pinpoint the locations by using GPS coordinates the Corps of Engineers posts on various fishing-related websites, she noted.
Howald said the Christmas tree recycling program has been taking place for years at Mark Twain Lake, and volunteer helpers are essential.
"At Spalding we've had Scout groups and FFA groups and things like that come in and assist us," she said.
Howald hopes to have a good turnout of volunteers Saturday because "we have over 300 Christmas trees to drop" at sites not far from Spalding.
In addition, several volunteer groups have already signed up to help drop about 100 trees in the South Fork area and 100 trees in the North Fork section of the lake.
Howald said the tree-placement effort will be carried out even if rain is in the forecast -- unless lightning is occurring.
"If there is lightning, we can't pull our boats out because they're all aluminium," she said. "But if it's just rain, we're fine. We've even done it in the snow."
For more information, call the ranger office at 573-735-4097.