In an annual tradition stretching back more than two decades, on Thursday the National Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teamed up to drop nearly 10,000 spent Christmas trees into a New Orleans wildlife refuge. Apparently, it’s all for the good of the ecosystem. The “Christmas Tree Drop” may sound like some kind of portmanteau of a Christmas and a New Years’ celebration, but it’s actually a key strategy for building ecological resilience within the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, a 25,000-acre patchwork of marshlands, lagoons and bayous located within the city of New Orleans that’s habitat for some 340 species of birds. As refuge manager Shelley Stiaes explained to Earther, bundles of dead Christmas trees can be strategically placed in the freshwater ecosystem to absorb the energy of waves, reducing shoreline erosion. The that’s a boon the people of New Orleans, who depend on their imperiled marshes—the state of Louisiana loses a roughly a football field of wetlands every hour to subsidence and rising sea levels—to absorb floodwaters from storms. The trees also create a stable platform on which new plants can grow, and by slowing waves and trapping silt, they help keep the water clear. This… Read full this story
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