The annual Christmas Tree Marsh Shoreline Recycling Project helps restore coastline

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The last of the holiday decorations have been put away in the attic, and Christmas goodies have been stashed in support of New Year’s healthy eating resolutions. There is only one thing left to do to complete the annual cycle — recycle the Christmas tree.

Jefferson Parish Coastal Management will sponsor its 29th annual Christmas Tree Marsh Shoreline Recycling Project on Feb. 9 to aid in the protection of the Louisiana coastline. Volunteers and parish personnel will spend the day recycling more than 5,000 trees as a barrier against coastal erosion.

Cochiera’s Marina Landing at Goose Bayou in Lafitte will be the launch site for the effort that will include more than 75 persons. The trees, which were collected curbside earlier in January by Waste Connections, will be placed in pens to build wave dampening fences and fill in man-made oil and gas canals in an effort to reduce coastal erosion and recreate the natural hydrology of the Barataria Basin.

According to the Coastal Management Department, Barataria Bay has had a 30 percent land loss since 1960, and in the next 50 years Jefferson Parish could lose 1,125 square miles of its current foot print.

Protecting the coastal marshland is a priority according to Coastal Management director Lauren Averill.

“You are trying to protect what is there, so you don’t lose it and to restore what has been lost. We want a sustainable coast for Jefferson and projects like this help,” Averill said about the tree recycling program.

Over the life of the program, trees have offered protection against wave erosion across 15,500 linear feet of shoreline, and six canals have been filled in the town of Jean Lafitte.

Averill also noted that the tree recycling program reduces landfill waste and provides important coastline educational opportunities for Jefferson Parish residents.

Flat boats were used by volunteers to transport fresh Christmas trees during last year’s annual Christmas Tree Marsh Shoreline Recycling Project which has saved more than 15,500 linear feet of shoreline since its inception in 1991.  Rosalyn Eason

The Jefferson Parish program is the largest parish run tree recycling program in the state. Many parishes hire contractors to run their recycling programs but Jefferson Parish has maintained

autonomy over their program. The Jefferson Parish Departments of Environmental Affairs, Streets and Parks and Recreation and Jefferson Parish, Kenner and Lafitte first responders all join together to execute the project.

Volunteers are essential to the execution of the tree placement.

Ragan Cole, a 10th grader at Lusher Charter School, is one of the many volunteers who give their time and effort to the project. This will be the third year that Cole has traveled to Lafitte to load trees and ride in a flatboat to place them in the marsh.

“It is fun to do, plus it’s helping people that can be impacted by erosion and storm surge,” Cole said about the potential long-term effects of his efforts.

Also, teamwork and the community spirit of the volunteers has impressed Cole.

“It’s nice to know that people care about the same things that you do,” he said.

Volunteers are needed for Feb. 9. Any adult or high school age teen interested in participating should call Coastal Management at 504.736.6441 to register.

Volunteers with flat bottom boats are also needed. Work will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Lafitte and should end at about 1 p.m. Lunch will be provided.

For information, visit http://www.jeffparish.net/index.aspx?page=321.

Rosalyn Eason writes about people and events in the East Jefferson community. To reach her, email northkennertp@cox.net.



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