Why Does the Louisiana National Guard Collect Thousands of Old Christmas Trees?
It's become an annual tradition for members of the Louisiana National. Every year, just before spring, the Guard goes to work delivering thousands and thousands of discarded Christmas trees to the state's coastline.
The reason, spokespeople for the Guard say, is twofold. First, the trees are part of a yearly, post-holiday mission called the Christmas Tree Drop. Guard officers say it serves as a training exercise for guardsmen to practice the skills they'll need in an emergency.
National Guard helicopter pilots deliver hundreds of bundles of the old trees, dropping them into the bayous along the state's coastline. Dropping the thousands of Christmas trees, they say, makes for good hurricane and disaster training and is similar to deploying water, food, generators and medical supplies to stricken areas.
But the trees are serving a second purpose: To help protect Louisiana's coastal areas against erosion. In the nearly twenty years since the project began, the National Guard has added almost 4 million square yards of trees to the marshy areas in the southern part of the state, shoring up eroding land along the coast.
According to a Fox News report on the Guard's massive, annual undertaking, "(They) use those trees to help rebuild the habitat for different wildlife, water fowl, crabs and shrimp, (so) they'll have more area to rebuild those habitats."
And where does the National Guard get the thousands of trees they use every year? Well, from just after Christmas until the end of January, Louisiana's coastal parishes collect discarded Christmas trees to be used in the mission. According to Fox News, this year's Christmas Tree Drop is scheduled for mid-March or early April.