By Christopher Purvis
Have you ever wondered why there are Christmas tree drop-off points on Allatoona Lake? And why are the trees put in the lake? The trees are part of a program that is geared toward improving fishing on the lake.
Creating and sustaining suitable fish habitats has always been an ongoing challenge on Allatoona Lake, considering the substantial 17-foot seasonal change in the lake level for flood risk management. Over the past decade, several projects and partnerships have been developed to help create fish habitats and to improve fishing on the lake.
In 2006, a popular partnership between Keep Bartow Beautiful, Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Management section, Boy Scouts of America, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and volunteers was developed, not only to recycle Christmas trees but to create fish structures. Every January, agency staff and volunteers from Marietta BassMasters take donated trees from the public and businesses and cable them to pre-constructed anchoring systems in the lake bed. When the lake level rises a few months later, the trees create underwater habitats for small fish.
Most of these structures are situated next to Corps-operated fishing jetties, but a new location was developed last year by an Eagle Scout in the Cooper Branch area near the Corps offices. Other structures are also located in areas managed by the City of Acworth and by Cherokee County at Fields Landing. This program was recently awarded second place in the state from the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation for outstanding contributions to protect and preserve the environment.
Marietta BassMasters has also been instrumental in another habitat program. Members have planted several coves on the lake the last few years with buttonbush, a native plant species that provides cover for small fish in addition to food for other wildlife. Other groups have also worked with Corps rangers and DNR to implement best management practices for shoreline management by felling trees for fish habitat before they erode out and cause greater destabilization.
Another innovative Corps ranger-led program involved the creation of deep water fish attractors made of golden bamboo. Rangers cut and remove the bamboo, an invasive non-native species, from Corps property and utilize volunteers to create structures from the durable bamboo culms. Then staff and volunteers use a small barge to drop the structures in deep water near popular fishing areas.
If you would like more information or would like to participate in one these programs, please contact the Allatoona Lake Operations Project Management Office at 678-721-6700.