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December 31, 2013 > Volunteers needed to give fish a Merry Christmas

Volunteers needed to give fish a Merry Christmas

Submitted By Emily Hopkins

The East Bay Regional Park District, Black Bass Action Committee, Boy Scouts of America, and Walton's Pond will host a day of fish habitat improvements at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area on Saturday, January 4.

Thanks to the donation of about 1,000 unsold Christmas trees by East Bay tree vendors, this activity will provide needed habitat for bass, bluegill, and sunfish in Horseshoe Lake, part of Quarry Lakes. East Bay Regional Parks (EBRP) Fisheries Program Manager Pete Alexander supervises the ongoing annual program that previously focused on Rainbow Lake in the same park. Trees are chained and submerged to create a viable habitat and safe haven - "artificial reefs" - for maturing fish.

Unsold Christmas trees are a good multipurpose fit in manmade reservoirs that may otherwise provide little respite for growing fish. Without their help, says Alexander, the bottom of the quarry lakes would be an uninteresting place to visit and pretty boring for the fish too. In addition to adding a multi-dimensional landscape with places to hide at the bottom of the lake, the trees slowly decay for up to ten years, providing a food source for the fish and other wildlife that live in and around the lakes. Although the needles quickly fall off, tree branches encourage algae growth that attracts insect life. Small fish are drawn to the area and where small fish go, large fish are sure to follow. Alexander sums it up, "Algae grow on the tree trunks, insects live on the algae, fish of all sizes live on the insects and... anglers and birds catch the fish."

Alexander stresses that only trees donated directly from retailers without any chemical treatment are used to avoid detrimental effects to the environment. He notes that research indicates that the game fish species in EBRP lakes prefer the trees to leaf bed habitats along the shoreline. "So, how do you know its Christmas, says Alexander, "Well, at the East Bay Regional Park District, they get a really big present... a new home, made of Christmas Trees."

Volunteers are encouraged to take part in this Christmas in January tradition. Work off that holiday turkey and help the fisheries at the same time by attaching Christmas trees to chains and helping enhance a local resource. You can watch a video, "Fish Swim in Christmas Tree Reef," online at www.ebparks.org/activities/fishing

Volunteers should arrive at Quarry Lakes at 8 a.m. rain or shine. Bring short boots and warm clothes - you can get dirty. A breakfast of fruit, rolls, juice, and coffee will start the event along with an orientation on how to accomplish the task ahead! At the conclusion of the project, about 1 p.m., a hot sandwich lunch will be provided.

For more information, call or email Fisheries Program Manager Pete Alexander at (510) 544-2342 or palexander@ebparks.org or call Fisheries Resource Analyst Joe Sullivan at (510) 544-2329.

A fishy Christmas in January
Saturday, Jan 4
8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
2100 Isherwood Way, Fremont
(510) 544-2342 or (510) 544-2329

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