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Canyon Ferry Reservoir received trees as a spawning habitat for perch



Helena, Montana – In fact, old Christmas trees being transported by helicopters are helping to develop new perch-spawning habitat.

Pines for Perch began working to establish a spawning habitat for perch in 1999 as a result of dwindling perch populations.

This not only enables the survival of other species but also permits anglers to pursue this well-liked fish in the reservoir.

“It’s a dual purpose. It’s to provide a forage source for the other species of fish that do eat fish. And also to provide us some harvest by anglers to come out and catch perch,” says Helena Area Senior Fisheries Technician for Montana FWP, Troy Humphrey.

Natural Christmas trees are gathered in the wintertime after the festivities.

These Christmas trees are strung together with cable and weighted down with cinder blocks by The Boy Scouts in March.

Every grouping weighs between 1,400 and 1,900 pounds.

The trees can sink to the bottom thanks to the cinder blocks, where they can be used as perch spawning habitat.

Together with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and the helicopters that dropped the trees into Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

In order for one team member to connect a bundle of trees to the ground while another team member controls the helicopter’s approach and departure, the helicopters fly extremely low.

After the load has been secured, the pilot flies to a location on the reservoir that FWP has chosen.

Prior to the start of the main part of wildfire season, this path is a fantastic way to jog your memory and dust off your boots.

“So, it’s a good way to kind of knock off the dust, work on that coordination with the pilots, get comfortable working around the aircraft again,” says Area Aviation Officer for The Central Land Office for DNRC, Wade Hendricks.

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