MANCHAC - Kim Coates treasures where she lives.
That's why the Manchac resident was first in line to drop off recycled Christmas trees to the Southeastern Louisiana University Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station on day one of its 23rd annual collection program.
"There's so many people and agencies that are trying to restore this area that we need to protect it," she said. "So we need to give back and we need to help."
With local government and business partners providing drop-off locations around Tangipahoa Parish, some with incentive programs, the effort has pulled in more than 36,000 Christmas trees that have been disbursed into the Manchac and Maurepas wetlands to control erosion, create habitats and correct human errors from the past. Those include logging ditches which were cut through the marsh to harvest cypress trees in the late 1800s.
"Some of our scientists are working on projects to see if Christmas trees can help to fill in or close in the legacy logging ditches that totally dominate the landscape of this area. And results have shown yes they do. They help to fill in those logging ditches with grass and sediment coming up through them," said SLU Biological Sciences Professor Dr. Rob Moreau, who also runs the Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station.
"It starts out there," said Middendorf's owner Horst Pfeifer, who is again offering a drop-off trailer at his business. "Can we do everything to restore it? Every little bit helps and I think with the Christmas trees and all of the stuff, it helps."
Some people feel this year's effort is one of the most important as a graphite plant, proposed to come to Port Manchac, hangs in the balance. A second meeting on the matter is scheduled for next week.
"My eyes have been opened to a lot of different things going on in the area and the more I've been researching, the more I want to take care of the area," said Coates, who started the Save Manchac Coalition.
That includes supporting a proven method of growing Manchac's strength from the ground up.
These are the tree recycling programs publicized for 2018 so far:
In Tangipahoa Parish, trees can be dropped off from Jan. 2 until Mardi Gras Day from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Hammond Maintenance facility, 18104 Highway 190, next to Piggly Wiggly.
The Southeastern Sustainability Center, located at 2101 North Oak Street in Hammond, will collect trees beginning Jan. 4 through the end of the month from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 to 10 a.m. on Friday.
A Turtle Cove trailer drop off site is also at Middendorf's Restaurant in Manchac where donors can also register to win a gift card to the restaurant in thanks for their recycling contribution.
In Orleans Parish, curbside pick-up varies by your service provider.
Those serviced by Richard's Disposal are encouraged to have your trees out on your regularly scheduled second collection day next week.
Those serviced by Empire Services should place their trees on the curb on Thursday, Jan. 11.
In Jefferson Parish, curbside tree recycling will take place in unincorporated areas on Jan. 10.
The towns and cities have varying pick up days throughout that same week. Check incorporated towns and cities' social media pages for specific dates.
In St. Charles Parish, curbside tree recycling will take place Jan. 8, 9, and 10. Drop-off sites will also be open through Jan. 17 at the East and West Bank Bridge Parks in Destrehan and Luling.
Remember, no flocked, painted, artificial or decorated trees accepted.
A new project picking up steam is an effort to plant Cypress trees in the Manchac and Maurepas wetlands. The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana are working with the Turtle Cove Research Station to plant 6,000 trees this year. Last year, they planted 5,000. If you're interested in volunteering for that program, you can get information on the following websites: www.crcl.Org and www.saveourlake.Org