Christmas trees to be used at Big Lake

Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Rick Cherry (left) area sportsman, and Aaron Mize, biological technician at Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge, make plans for a work day on Feb. 4 to use donated Christmas trees for fish habitat. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Aaron Mize, biological technician at Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge, requested Christmas tree donations to be used for fish habitat and is very pleased with the response. A drop area near the pier off Highway 18 was created after Christmas for the trees to be placed.

In addition to individuals who donated trees, Mize said Lowe's in Blytheville called and offered to donate their overstocked trees.

"Steve Bright, Floyd Winstead and Jerry Benham of Bright Farms volunteered to pick up and haul the large number (approximately 300) of trees," Mize said. "Steve is a good neighbor and a long time supporter of the Refuge and we appreciate it. We appreciate everyone who donated trees. The trees will make a great fish habitat and will benefit the area fishermen."

Volunteers are needed for Saturday, Feb. 4, when the trees will be bundled, weighted and sunk around the fishing pier and other parts of the lake. The project is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.

"Anyone that wants to come and help is welcome," Mize said. "Bring work gloves, old cinder blocks, or anything that can be used to weight the trees down. One local businessman, Bill Yarbro, is using extra cement to fill up five gallon buckets to use for the project."

Mize said the trees will improve crappie and bass fishing.

Originally, they had planned to sink the trees around the handicapped fishing pier. Due to the number of trees donated the project has been expanded and trees will be used in other fishing areas including Little Green and Middle Ditch.

Mize said the Mississippi County Work Release workers built several fish cribs to be used in the project.

"They did a good job," Mize said.

Mize said he had used the fish cribs in Michigan attracting walleye and perch and he thinks it will work just as well for the crappie and bass at Big Lake. Using Christmas trees for fish habitat has been used successfully for many years.

Ricky Cherry, an avid fisherman at Big Lake, said the fishermen in the area he had talked to are excited about the project.

"I think we will have a lot of volunteers on Feb. 4," Cherry said. "Especially for the crappie fisherman, this project will be an A+. The project will benefit our local fishermen. They (Mize and Refuge Manager Jeremy Bennett) are doing a great job at Big Lake. They are working hard, the Refuge is cleaned up and I have heard a lot of people bragging on these guys and the good job they are doing."

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