The Pryor Times

December 28, 2013

Building a habitat for fish

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — It was an idea that started at Grand River Dam Authority’s Ecosystems and Lake Management Department aimed at making better living arrangements for Oklahoma fish. It’s called Crappie Christmas.

“By the way, “crappie” rhymes with “hoppy” and, of course, crappie is that very special type of fish that draws thousands of anglers to these waters each year. So, in an effort to make sure the crappie habitat, and thus the crappie fishing, remains healthy, the

GRDA Ecosystems Management Department put this program together,” according to the GRDA official website.

GRDA’s Ecosystems Department is collecting used live Christmas trees between Dec. 26 and Jan. 10 at several drop-off locations.

“It was somewhat of a spin-off from our annual spring event Rush for Brush,” said Jacklyn Jaggars, GRDA. “Dropping trees in the winter will provide time for the young on the year to find protection in the spring.”

Rush for Brush, the model for this program, provides a great example having seen success in it’s five plus years. According to GRDA’s wesbite, since the program began over 500 volunteers have deployed more than 7,500 structures, all in the name of better fish habitats.

“We’ll place all the trees we collect into Grand and Hudson lakes and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. They will make good cover for the small crappie and help boost those populations in the year ahead,” said GRDA Fisheries Coordinator/Tournament Director Brent Davis.

Davis said the submerged tree areas will also be prime fishing areas.

“It’s a win-win situation for the fish and the fishermen. We want to encourage the public to consider this option instead of burning their trees after Christmas,” said Davis.

Donating a tree to the cause is simple.

GRDA asks is that all decorations and ornaments be removed. Then bring the tree to a designated drop-off location and place it on the pile. Even live trees that have been sprayed with fake snow or pine scent will be accepted and cleaned up for use by the fish.

After that the trees are tied together in groups of three or four and sunk on a concrete block, according to Jaggars.

Drop-off locations on Grand Lake include Wolf Creek Park boat ramp and the GRDA Lake Patrol parking lot. On Lake Hudson, donated trees can be dropped off at the Lions Club boat ramp in Salina.