Christmas trees spread good cheer and habitat in Wolfe Lake
Christmas has come early for the fish of Wolfe Lake.
RVCA staff and volunteers could be spotted sinking bundles of old Christmas trees into the Westport-area lake on Sept. 5.
But this wasn't just an extreme head-start on underwater holiday décor; the donated brush bundles will also provide valuable habitat for several fish species in the lake, according to RVCA aquatic biologist Jennifer Lamoureux.
In shallow areas, the sunken brush will become nursery habitat for "young of the year" fish, who are otherwise easy pickings for hungry predators. Largemouth bass tend to spawn near them, too.
In deeper water, the trees act as post-spawning recovery zones for adult fish. After six weeks without food while they guard their young (sound familiar? #parentlife), the fish need somewhere safe to feed like crazy and restore their energy.
Lamoureux said underwater wood structures like dead trees and fallen wood are often missing from developed lakes, because there is a tendency for people to remove them from their properties or haul them out of the water when they fall.
"If a tree is dead or dying it often gets taken out, so it's not allowed to complete that natural cycle," Lamoureux said. The best thing a shoreline owner can do is to let their shoreline be messy. "It's a key process that we're actually disrupting."
Volunteers from the Wolfe Lake Association, the Westport Area Outdoor Association and Camp IAWAH helped RVCA staff toss the trees overboard in six locations.
The partners will monitor the submerged wood structures with an underwater camera over the few years to see which fish species have moved in to use the enhanced habitats.
So next time you're out on the lake, listen for the sounds of safe, happy fish bubbling up from below: "We wish you a merry Fishmas, we wish you a merry Fishmas…" 😉