Hundreds of recycled Christmas trees put to work along Jordan River Trail

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – People who walk and bike along the Jordan River Trail are noticing something unique along the riverbank – Christmas trees.

County workers are placing the trees along the river to prevent erosion.

“This bank has been moving about six feet in the last year,” said Bob Thompson, the Watershed Section manager for Salt Lake County. “It’s actually moving very quickly right now and that makes this whole section of bank unstable.”

Erosion could threaten the trail and homes nearby.

Over the span of two days, the trees will be tied together with fence wire and then bolted to the riverbank with earth anchors.

“They have lots of branches and needles that hang off of them and those things slow the river current down,” Thompson said. “Instead of eroding the bank, they will actually change the process."

The county could use rocks to solve the erosion issue, but that solution would cost thousands of dollars.

The cost to use old Christmas trees rescued from the county landfill comes to about two dollars per foot.

“We’re saving an immense amount of money by doing the process the way we are doing it,” Thompson said.

Eventually, the trees will be covered with dirt and plants – something that would have happened if rocks were placed along the river.

“This process allows nature to take its course,” Thompson said.

They will be held in place for many years, providing a stable and inexpensive solution to the issue of erosion.

“This is a free material,” Thompson said. “People use these, they celebrate them at Christmastime, which is great, but then we can reuse them and these things will last for decades."

Workers will use roughly 200 trees on this section of the Jordan River. They plan to use about 1,000 trees in their other projects on rivers around the county this season.