March 20, 2024 | From City of New Orleans

City of New Orleans, Partners Place Twice as Many Christmas Trees in Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuge During Annual Christmas Tree Drop to Restore Coastline

Christmas tree drop


NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans' Office of Resilience and Sustainability (ORS), in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) and the Louisiana Army National Guard, today conducted the City’s annual Christmas Tree Drop in Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuge.

Residents placed their trees curbside for collection in January to participate in the Christmas Tree Recycling Program. The City's Department of Sanitation contractors collected approximately 8,000 trees this year, a 100 percent increase from last year.

“We are so pleased that the residents of New Orleans stepped up and doubled the number of recycled trees collected from last year," said ORS Deputy Chief Resilience Officer Greg Nichols. "Instead of going to the landfill, the recycled trees are put to good use protecting our wetlands. For over 25 years, the City’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program has contributed to the restoration of the Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuge. The more trees we collect, the more wetlands we create, and that is a true Christmas gift to the city."

Working collaboratively, the City’s Department of Sanitation and waste management contractors Waste Pro, IV Waste, Richard’s Disposal and Ramelli Waste, along with ORS, USFW and the Louisiana National Guard collected, sorted and bundled the recycled trees. Today, the bundled trees were airlifted by the Louisiana National Guard into the Bayou Sauvage National Urban Wildlife Refuge to create new marsh habitat. After the trees were dropped by helicopter, USFW staff came by boat to move them into their final position. Over the years of this program, recycled Christmas trees have restored an area of marsh equal to approximately 200 football fields. The trees also create an important habitat for birds, fish, crabs, crawfish and shrimp.

The transporting of the trees via helicopter provides the Louisiana Army National Guard a valuable training exercise. ORS provides funding and collaborates with the Department of Sanitation for this effort. This program has been running for over 25 years and serves an important role in the City’s coastal restoration program.

“The annual Christmas Tree Drop represents a long-standing partnership between the Louisiana National Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," said Louisiana National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 4 Gabriel Ruiz. "It benefits the City of New Orleans and surrounding coastal environment while also providing valuable training hours for our pilots and crewmembers of the 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment."

“I’d like to thank the residents of New Orleans for sharing their Christmas trees with us and making their contribution to coastal restoration," said USFW Deputy Project Leader, Bayou Sauvage Urban Complex Shelley Stiaes. "Their tradition of donating Christmas trees is helping to rebuild our coastline and build habitat for wildlife."

"We continue to lose land in Louisiana at alarming rates, and the fight to restore our coast is more important than ever as we face rising seas and more frequent and intense storms," said National Wildlife Federation Gulf Program Outreach Manager Samantha Carter. "Coastal restoration is a high priority for the people of New Orleans, as we value the wildlife habitat, critical storm protection, huge economic benefit and culture that our coast supports. The Christmas Tree Recycling Program is an opportunity for anyone and everyone to get directly involved in restoring and protecting our coast. The recycled trees will create new wildlife habitat and help slow erosion in Bayou Sauvage Urban National Wildlife Refuge, creating a natural defense and protecting our manmade ones. It’s always a great sight to see!”

In addition to collecting trees from residents this year, ORS also accepted and bundled donated trees from local wholesalers, such as Home Depot, A’s Toy Soldier, City Park and AV Tree Farms, who didn’t sell them all, thereby diverting them from landfills into the marsh. Additionally, Lowes, the Plant Gallery and Harold’s Plants promoted the recycling program. NORD allowed the City to store donated trees at Gernon Brown, and promotional signs were placed at several NOLA Public Libraries. The National Wildlife Federation’s Gulf Coast Program provided lunch at the drop off, which was much appreciated by all the hard workers.


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