Listening Topic: Communication – Talk on recycling Christmas trees

A. Listen to a talk about a program that uses Christmas trees. As you listen, write T for true or F for false for each item.

1   Christmas trees are being used in lakes and rivers as a place for fish to live and grow.

2   There are usually many natural places for fish to hide and grow in lakes and waterways.

3   This program is happening in only one or two states.

4   This program is expensive and difficult to maintain.

B. Listen to the talk again. Then choose the correct answer for each question.

 Who is the person giving the talk?

      a   She is a biologist.

      b   She is a park ranger.

 How are trees being used as homes for fish?

      a   The trees grow underwater.

      b   The trees are dropped into lakes and rivers.

 Why do fish need these trees?

      a   They need a place to hide from bigger fish.

      b   They eat the leaves.

 Why do many lakes not have natural vegetation in them?

      a   The vegetation has died.

      b   Many lakes are manmade.

 Where are some of the places the practice of reusing Christmas trees is taking place?

      a   California and Maryland

      b   Colorado and Maryland

 How many trees are officials and fishermen planning to sink in the Colorado River?

      a   700

      b   4,000

 Why have some fishermen dropped their own trees in lakes?

      a   They hope the trees will attract fish.

      b   They are required to do this by law.



1 T   2 F   3 F   4 F


1 b   2 b   3 a   4 b   5 a   6 a   7 a


A= Ranger

B = Audience Member 1

C = Audience Member 2

A:   OK, everyone, just follow me this way so we can take a look at one of the biggest lakes in our park. Good. I’d like to tell you about something we’ve done with this lake that’s, well, pretty interesting.

First of all, I’m guessing that at least some of you celebrated Christmas this past winter, right? How many of you bought a real tree for the holidays?

B & C:   We did.

A:   Quite a few of you. Well, have you ever wondered about what happens to all those trees after the holidays are over? Well, If you’ve ever worried about wasting a tree for just a few weeks’ enjoyment during the holiday season, you can relax. Christmas trees all across the US from Maryland to California are finding another purpose: they’re serving as places for fish to live and grow. That’s right, Christmas trees are being used as fish habitats in rivers and in lakes just like this one. In fact, if you were to dive down to the bottom of this lake, you’d find that several old Christmas trees are sitting there.

Here’s how it’s done. The trees are first anchored by sand bags or cement blocks-sometimes they’re tied into groups. Then they’re loaded onto a boat and dropped into about 15 feet of water. The trees form a kind of reef-like the rocks or sand that naturally accumulate in lakes. The trees basically form a protective habitat for small and young fish. So, instead of Christmas lights and ornaments, the submerged branches are hung with fish eggs.

B:   Can I ask a question?

A:   Sure.

B:   Why is this necessary? I mean, do the fish really need these Christmas tree habitats?

A:   Yes, they do. Here’s why: Young fish, or fry, and small fish in bodies of water that have no vegetation are particularly vulnerable to larger predators-like bigger fish or other creatures who are hunting for food. In order to survive, these small fish don’t only need food; they need a place to hide. Normally, trees and brush fall into the lakes and rivers and provide a natural fish habitat. However, many of our lakes and waterways-especially those that are manmade don’t have these natural structures. For instance, some natural waterways are affected when land owners remove fallen trees, branches, and other debris to create beaches or just to tidy up the shore line. In other areas there are no trees to fall into the lakes, such as Lake Havasu in the Arizona desert. Sometimes, the building of dams on rivers reduces the amount of natural debris in the river. So, we have a growing need for underwater structures to provide a safe place and a safe feeding ground for fish.

At the same time, ever January, millions of Christmas trees become trash. We have a space issue in landfills across the US. If Christmas trees are not recycled, they end up in the local landfills. Rather than take up precious space, for a very low cost, basically, the cost of a sandbag plus transportation; the trees can now serve a second purpose, one which lasts much longer than their original one.

C:   How widespread is this practice? I mean, where is this being done?

A:   Well, as I said earlier, there are locations all over the states, from Maryland to California, where Christmas trees are being used as fish habitats. Maryland, for example has no natural lakes they’re all manmade and so its lake bottoms are bare, desert-like, leaving small fish exposed. Lake Havasu in Arizona gets approximately 4,000 trees annually as does Canyon Ferry Reservoir. A biologist in New Hampshire has offered to take 70 trees from a recycling center to drop in lakes, while California officials and fishermen plan to sink roughly 700 trees in the backwaters of the Colorado River.

B:   Is there any proof this really works?

A:   Well, researchers have taken many photos that show us how the trees are successfully serving as spawning habitat. In this lake, for instance, perch – a particular type of fish – lay their eggs in gel-like sacs and these sacs get hung on the tree branches. The branches also host algae, which attract insects and other microorganisms-providing food for the young fish. Tiny fish also hide out among the branches. Though some fish do end up as food for larger ones, the Christmas tree reefs provide much needed shelter; enabling many more young fish to survive.

These insects and small fish, in turn, attract the larger fish, which attract fishermen. Of course, fishermen know that fish tend to hang out near these tree reefs. At some popular areas the state publishes maps to show where trees have been dropped. A few fishermen have been known to drop their own trees, secretly, in hopes of increasing their chances of catching a prize fish!

As for cost effectiveness, most of these Christmas tree programs are paying for themselves. Some states apply money from fishing licenses to cover the cost of cement blocks and deliver of the trees. In other areas, volunteers provide labor and pay for the materials.

Here’s an interesting fact: A biologist in Massachusetts recently conducted a study at local lakes and found that the number of fish caught around sunken Christmas trees was five times that of fish caught elsewhere in the same lake. And Lake Havasu in Arizona welcomed 200,000 fishermen in one year. That represents a lot of income, so the investment does seem to be worth it. Compared to man-made structures costing $70 each, the trees provide a valuable, cheap, and renewable alternative. It’s really quite simple: fish need a food supply and protective habitat in which to grow. Many waterways no longer provide this naturally. Christmas trees need to be recycled and happen to make ideal structures to support the growth of algae and to hide fish. So, this is basically a cheap and easy solution to two problems.

Now, if there are no more questions, let’s make our way down this trail.

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