Scouts to recycle Christmas trees for riverbank project

Christmas is over and all of the gifts under the tree have been opened, but there’s still one more gift you can give. Scouts BSA members have been recycling Christmas trees on the Harbor for many years, and this year more than 1,200 trees will be donated to a project to help stop erosion and rebuild fish habitat on the banks of local riverside properties.

Trees — with all ornaments, hooks and bases removed — can be dropped off with the Scouts at Washington Elementary School in Hoquiam from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 4-5, Christine Helman, Boy Scout Troop 100 committee chairperson, said.

Tree pick-up can be arranged by calling 360-591-9698. Trees must be left at the curb. Pick-up and drop-off are free, but the Scouts always appreciate donations, which help support local Scout programs, she said.

Local land-use and public-access activist Dan Boeholt is helping connect the Scouts and their trees with the properties that need them, replicating a project he did 20 years ago after flooding eroded the riverbank on his land.

He said he got the idea for the project after reading an article in the The Daily World about a couple in Eastern Washington who used recycled Christmas trees to weave a mat of pine and fir from the river bottom to the top of the bank.

Boeholt said there are now salmon spawning on sediment next to the riverbank where they never did before. He explained that the trees slow down the water and catch silt, rebuilding the bank, preventing erosion and creating fish habitat.

Helman said she’s ecstatic about the Scouts’ involvement with the ecological project that will leave a legacy.

“It’s cool for the Scouts to see and learn from,” she said.