Trees, trout, live cameras, and backyard critters ring in your Outdoors Bound New Year!

Outdoors Bound

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Your Christmas tree could help fish and wildlife to thrive.

When you finally get around to taking down your tree after the holiday, wildlife experts say do not throw it out. Instead, donate it to groups that use them to create wildlife habitats.

One agency in the Roanoke area collecting Christmas trees is the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The DCR is collecting trees at the Claytor Lake State Park Marina parking lot through Jan. 16, 2022.

The trees will be bundled together and sunk to create artificial reefs. Those reefs attract smaller forage fish, and they create a cover for larger gamefish like crappies, bass, and catfish.

Those reefs will be sunk on Jan. 20, 2022, and volunteers are needed. You can contact the DCR by email at or by phone at 540-643-2500 for more information.

DCR crews ready tree reefs at Hungry Mother Lake

You can also use your tree or trimmings from it to create a nature area in your backyard. Simply place the tree or cuttings in an out of the way area of your yard, preferably an area with some brush or grass cover. You can add other brush, tree, or shrub trimmings to it.

The brush pile will serve as cover and shelter for a variety of creatures like rabbits, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and even lizards like skinks.

A skink

One way to get the family involved is to place a trail camera in the yard pointed at the brush pile. That way you can record and view the animals that call your backyard home. This is a good way to get children involved in wildlife viewing.

Claytor Cam

Speaking of viewing wildlife, there is a new live underwater camera at Claytor Lake that allows you to view one of the artificial fish reefs there. Unlike the tree reefs, this reef is made from concrete and rebar. It attracts a variety of gamefish.

Claytor Lake Cam

Trout Stocking Update

Tinker Creek

Two local streams received stockings of rainbow trout just before the new year. Tinker Creek and Glade Creek were both stocked on Wednesday, Dec. 29.

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