Ever wonder what happens to your Christmas tree after you leave it at the curb or drop it off at a convenience center?
Chances are, it's either ground into mulch or dropped into a lake. Either way, local and state officials say discarded trees will be put to good use in South Carolina.
First, the fish: York County's public works department is cooperating with the state Department of Natural Resources on a program that stocks state lakes with old trees.
Though trees are of little use to people after the holidays, they make great habitats for bass, bream and other species.
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"Fish are attracted to cover, no matter what that is," said Robert Stroud, a fisheries biologist with DNR. "The thing about the Christmas trees, it's natural and it's also recyclable. It's just another use instead of mulching them up."
Second, the mulch: Trees that aren't given to DNR will be ground into mulch next month at the York County compost center, said Arthur Ligon, solid waste collection and recycling supervisor.
Here are some tips on disposing of your tree:
• Rock Hill customers are encouraged to leave their trees at the curb on the Monday of their pickup week. Routes are shifted around this time of year and pickup days vary, so putting trees out on Monday allows for an orderly collection.
• The city's compost center on Fredheim Road already has begun accepting trees at no charge. That will continue through mid-January, said Public Works Director Bobby Banks. Mulch is available to the public on Fridays year-round.
• Residents in unincorporated parts of the county can take their trees to 16 convenience centers, each of which are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily except Wednesdays and Sundays.
"They just need to make sure that all the lights and Christmas paraphernalia are off," Ligon said. "There will always be someone that wants to get rid of it fully decorated. If you've got stuff in there that won't break down, that's a problem."
• Convenience centers also will accept other holiday leftovers such as gift boxes, chipboard and aluminum pie pans.
• The county will stop accepting trees Jan. 31, so there's a limit on how long you can procrastinate.
"If you've still got a Christmas tree up by the end of January, that thing's going to be awful dry," Ligon said. "And probably a fire hazard at that point."
• Typically, most trees are dropped off during the first week of January. But Ligon said he saw one put out the day after Christmas.
"Somebody didn't waste any time," he said.