When the program began almost three decades ago, most of the trees were put into chippers and cut up for mulch, however for most of the last 20 years or so, the trees have been made available to local pond owners who use them to improve the habitat in their water.

"It's better to recycle," said Roman Mike Jenkins as he dropped off his tree in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Rome. "I've been doing it more years than I care to remember."

Rome-Floyd County ECO River Education Center biologist Emma Wells said the effort marks the 28th year in a row that Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful had partnered with Home Depot, the Georgia Forestry Commission and Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation to recycle Christmas trees.

"It's just kind of an effortless event and it's become a holiday tradition, people just know to hold on to their trees and bring one for the Chipper," Wells said. "I think it's a great way to recycle this resources instead of just throwing it in the trash or allowing it to decompose naturally in the woods."

Rickey Carter, Rosedale, is one of those who have been picking up trees and carrying them to a farm pond to use as fish attractors for years.

"It's some place the bait fish can congregate," Carter said. If the tiny bait fish hang out among the trees, the bigger bass and bream will be drawn to them as well, and that's where fishermen hope to land a big one.

Of course, when anglers start to fish around the artificial habitats, there's a chance they can get their lines hung up in the trees, but Carter said the chances of catching a nice fish around the area where the trees are is worth the effort.

Rome arborist Terry Paige was also on hand to distribute seedlings that people who recycled their Christmas trees could take home and plant. Saturday, he had Coosa dogwood seedlings as well as swamp chestnut oaks. He explained the Coosa dogwood is a hybrid that does well when started as a sapling in the sun.

"It's not a fast growing tree so you can't expect a whole lot out of these for several years," Paige said.

“The swamp chestnut oak grows fairly quickly. They can take a lot of moisture and like good draining soil," Paige said. "They produce acorns in eight to ten years so they can spread."