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Conservationists moved Christmas trees to improve fish habitat on Ocean Lake west of Riverton.

Wind hinders tree habitat project

Jan 31, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge Staff Writer

Blustery winds proved to be a deterrent as members of the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other volunteers worked Saturday to scatter donated Christmas trees across the west side of Ocean Lake.

Volunteers were only able to distribute roughly 400 of the 500 donated trees because of melting ice and winds that ranged from 60 to 70 mph.

Once the trees sink, they will provide habitat for the fish living in the lake. Species of fish in the lake include pan fish, crappie, blue gill, sunfish, yellow perch and walleye.

"The whole purpose is to help create good fish habitat for the fish in the lake, and it is an enjoyable event for everyone involved," said Game and Fish fishery biologist Paul Gerrity.

He described the conditions Saturday as harsh and said that as the day progressed, it became increasingly difficult to get the trees properly situated around the lake.

"The wind was really bad, and the ice started deteriorating, so we all felt it was really unsafe to continue trying to distribute the trees," Gerrity said.

The trees were grouped together in stacks of 10, then weighed down with cinder blocks.

But the wind was picking up even the weighted trees and blowing them away. Volunteers struggled to keep them in one spot.

"Once the wind would clip the trees that were weighted down, they would blow away, and we were spending our time chasing after the trees that had these huge weights on the bottom of them," Gerrity said.

The leftover trees will hopefully be distributed in February or when weather conditions permit.

"We had about 20 volunteers trying to corral these trees, and it ended up being just a really messy day with weather conditions not necessarily allowing us to finish the job," he said.

Gerrity estimated that about 100 more trees were donated this year.

"It seemed to me we had a lot more trees than last year because we typically have in between 300, 500," Gerrity said. "We had another good turnout this year with lots of trees, and great participation from the local anglers who fish in the lake."

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