Ocean Lake fish habitat got a boost Saturday from donated Christmas trees

Tom Baysinger and Andrew Frey secure a bunch of trees together on the ice at Ocean Lake.

Story and photos by Ernie Over, Managing Editor County10.com News
(Pavillion, Wyo.) – Several dozen volunteers gathered at Ocean Lake Saturday to help with a fish habitat improvement project.The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District set aside a Christmas tree recycling area at the Lander landfill and the Riverton baling station after Christmas, and urged residents to recycle thier Christmas trees. Friday the more than 300 trees were gathered up and delivered to Ocean Lake.

Kevin Johnson from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Lander annually obtains a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deposit the trees in the lake, and determines where the trees will be placed.

Howard Johnson of Riverton and a group of friends started the fish habitat improvement project nearly a quarter century ago and Howard has been here every year since hauling and placing the trees on the ice. He estimated that over 8,000 trees have been placed in the lake since the project began.

One volunteer this year, Tom Baysinger, said he used to come out and fish at Ocean Lake with his his late friend Gary Gatenbein, and the two volunteered over the years to help with the habitat project. “I guess you can say I’m coming out to help in Gary’s memory,” he said.

The trees are hauled out into the lake by four wheelers and trailers, wired together in groups of ten, and anchored by five cinder blocks. The warmth from the dark trees  helps melt the ice, and when they melt through, the weighted trees fall to the bottom.

Saturday the ice at the drop off point was 15 inches thick.

Andrew Frey, the new superintendent of the  Solid Waste District, was on hand Saturday helping place the trees on the lake along with the other volunteers.

Over 300 trees were transported onto the ice at Ocean Lake on Saturday and wired together with cinder blocks. When the ice melts, the trees will become habitat for fish.














Tom Baysinger said he was helping in memory of his fishing buddy Gary Gatenbein who died several years ago.











The trees were hauled out onto the ice by four wheelers pulling trailers. Howard Johnson is driving the ATV while Dave Potter, dressed in orange, waits to unload the trees.











Kevin Johnson from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Lander comes back to shore to pick up another load of trees.