Once the presents are gone, lights removed and tree stands put away, local Christmas trees will be converted into wildlife habitats at a former landfill and Clinton Lake.
This year's Christmas trees will keep on giving long after the holidays have come and gone.
City crews expect to collect more than 4,000 trees from Lawrence homes, offices and businesses during the next three Mondays for recycling into wildlife habitats at an old city landfill and Clinton Lake.
"There's no reason for these to be sent to the (current) landfill when we can provide a beneficial reuse for them," said Mollie Mangerich, the city's supervisor for waste reduction and recycling.
The trees -- to be collected by the city's sanitation crews -- will be transported to the old city landfill north of town, where officials use the trees for erosion control and wildlife habitats, Mangerich said. Trees will be arranged in rows, to provide shelter for rabbits, squirrels, field mice and birds.
The trees eventually will decay and add nutrients to the soil, Mangerich said. Last season's effort piled about 3,920 trees, weighing 49 tons, at the old landfill.
In January, the city also will give about 150 trees to officials at Clinton Lake. Half of the trees will be used to create wildlife shelters; local Boy Scouts have volunteered to handle the work.
The other 75 trees will be dropped into the lake for use as fish habitats, likely in the Bloomington Park area.
Pine needles provide excellent areas for bass and crappie to lay eggs, said Jim Franz, a park ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Once the new fish grow up -- likely in two to three years -- anglers will be able to enjoy added fishing opportunities, both by boat and on shore.
"Most people, you put the trees out by the curb and it's the last they think about them," Franz said. "We can do a little more with them, if we can bring them out here."
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is email@example.com.