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Many have already taken down the Christmas tree. With New Year’s Day also history, those with the trees still lit won’t be far behind in putting way the season.

People using real trees for their Christmas décor now face the decision on what to with that cherished symbol of the holidays. Why not give it life after Christmas?

You've heard it before. Recycling the tree makes sense. But you may not know all the alternatives. Instead of sending it to a landfill, consider sinking it, beaching it, mulching it or piling it up for wildlife.

In rural areas, discarded Christmas trees can be put to good use as erosion control or as brush piles to provide resting and escape cover for small animals. In addition to benefiting small game such as quail and rabbits, brush piles constructed of Christmas trees can help birds such as sparrows, towhees and wrens.

Brush piles are usually mound or teepee shaped with the largest material forming the base and layers of small limbs and branches added as filler. The base should consist of sturdy trunks or limbs to allow adequate escape entrances at ground level.

There's also the water alternative.

Fisheries biologists with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources use discarded Christmas trees to maintain fish attractor sites and act as natural reefs for freshwater fish. These sites are located at all major reservoirs in South Carolina, such as Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion.

Once the tree is sunk, aquatic insects will live and grow within the branches and needles. These insects act as an attractant to small fish which are fed upon by larger fish.

DNR asks, however, that people not toss discarded trees at marked state fish-attraction areas. While repurposing trees are great for the environment, DNR biologists want to be able to choose which trees go where so each area gets trees best suited for its needs.

DNR has opened a tree drop-off area in Berkeley County in Bonneau until Jan. 10, 2019. That address is 305 Black Oak Road.

Looking ahead, the best kind of recycling is to buy a live tree and replant it. Then the tree can provide evergreen cover for wildlife year-round. DNR advises that consumers should keep in mind, however, that many kinds of popular Christmas trees will not survive the hot and humid South Carolina summers.

Among species that will likely live and prosper here are: Virginia pine, Scotch pine, sand pine, spruce pine, Eastern red cedar, white cedar, Leyland cypress and white pine, which does best in the mountains and upper Piedmont.

Two varieties of Arizona smooth cypress developed in South Carolina, Clemson Greenspire and Carolina Sapphire, will also grow well in our climate. Tree species that may not survive here, except in our foothills and mountains, include hemlock, Colorado blue spruce, Douglas fir, Fraser fir and balsam fir.

Recycling is an ideal form of giving in a season for giving. Please do it.

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