WILTON — This year, instead of stowing away your Christmas tree in the attic or closet, consider donating it for local river restoration work.

The Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries, will be collecting natural Christmas trees at the Merwin Meadows’ parking lot on Saturday and Jan. 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Synthetic trees will not be accepted, and all tinsel, flocking or decorations should be removed.

The trees will be transformed into an important habitat for wild trout in local river banks, anchored into places where significant erosion is occurring due to increased flooding, climate change and over-development, said Jeff Yates, the chapter’s director of volunteer efforts who proposed the idea of holding the event.

The pine boughs help remove sediment and stabilize the river bank, Yates said, which naturally narrows the stream channel and prevents future erosion.

“We’ve been doing these projects for a decade, and we’re at a point where we’re proven that it works,” he said. “This is the first time we’re asking residents to donate their trees. We need more trees.”

The restoration work will take place at the Norwalk River in Wilton, the Mill River in Fairfield and the Mianus River in Stamford — three places that Mianus Chapter board member Ben Couch is particularly invested in, being an avid fisher.

“These are rivers that I care about. I typically go fishing in our local streams and rivers, and it’s awesome to catch a native brook trout or a naturally reproducing brown trout in our rivers that are right in our towns,” he said. “So it’s about being able to contribute to improving their environment.”

“Our tag line is, If you take care of the fish, the fishing takes care of itself,” he said.

Couch and the rest of the Mianus Chapter hope the ecocycle event will be a communitywide effort that everyone can find satisfaction from.

As the project lead, Couch is in charge of collecting and storing the trees until spring, during which the community is invited to join in on the restoration work. The goal is to collect at least 100 to 200 trees.

“We just thought this was an interesting way to get the resources we need, as well as helping people take part in an event that’s environmentally friendly and is going to have a local impact,” Couch said. “(The Mianus Chapter) is not just a fishing club. It’s an organization that’s about improving the environment for all of us.”

The Mianus Chapter is comprised of 500 members, primarily from Wilton, Norwalk and nearby communities, who contribute about 6,000 hours a year — running youth education programs, conservation projects, tree plantings and in-stream habitat restoration work.

For more information about the ecocycle event, contact Couch at bcouch24@gmail.com or visit www.mianustu.org.

SKim@hearstmediact.com; 203-354-1044; @stephaniehnkim