More Christmas Trees Added to Build Bayou Sauvage Habitat

This year's helicopter drop of 4,700 Christmas trees from Orleans Parish helps the national wildlife refuge create tree jetties that produce marsh habitat.

About 4,700 Christmas trees collected in the Orleans Parish section of New Orleans after the 2016 holidays were airlifted into the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge this week as part of a program that creates new marsh habitat. It is a joint effort of the Mayor's Office of Environmental Affairs, the New Orleans Department of Sanitation, and the Louisiana Army National Guard, which use the tree drop as a training exercise. Trees are placed in areas selected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The drops have created about 175 acres of marsh so far in Bayou Sauvage, a refuge that was established in 1990. It contains 24,000 acres of fresh and brackish marsh and is within the city limits of New Orleans, making it one of the nation's largest urban refuges, providing an important stop for migratory birds and helping to protect New Orleans from storms.

"Now, more than ever, the preservation of our coastline is essential to the continued success and safety of New Orleans," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "This program highlights the tremendous work that can be accomplished when city, state, and federal partners work together for the betterment of the environment."

The trees are used to establish a wave break in open ponds on the refuge. The tree jetties will create new productive marsh habitat by reducing erosion, trapping sediment, and building up a structure that eventually will support native marsh grasses.

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