Christmas trees for salmon

A few Saturdays ago I brought our Christmas tree to a collection site in up in NE Portland, where two volunteers from the Tualatin chapter of Trout Unlimited were waiting in a parking lot.

From here they’ll take my tree and many others to various river sites in the coming months, and leave them in shallow estuaries.

And in our nutrient-rich waters, it doesn’t take long for these things to flourish in a new way.

Once upon a time when the world was young there was a lot of “old growth” forest surrounding such waterways, and therefore a lot of debris would end up in rivers. This stuff would provide not only cover for young things but also the provide algae and plankton and other treats that young river things like to eat.


Salmon populations have been on the decline for a long time, like so many things in this world. And there are so many causes that it is difficult to pinpoint. This creative intervention was the brainchild of sportsman, not scientists, who themselves are quite concerned about the future of salmon, both for themselves and the rest of us.

They’ve been doing this since 2011, and it seems they’ve had success — there’s been a marked increase of baby salmon in the places where old Christmas trees have been placed.

“If everyone in Oregon took all their Christmas trees and put them into a stream instead of chipping them into mulch, it would be a really valuable gift to salmon. There’s no input of that material in the system anymore. You have to put it there.”

I did, this year. I intend to in the years to come, too.

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