On September 15, 2015, Hays County approved a contract with TreeFolks to develop a reforestation plan for planting trees along parts of the Blanco River that were deforested by historic flooding on May 23, 2015. TreeFolks will work with Hays County, private landowners, and other stakeholders to develop the Blanco River Reforestation Project with a goal of accelerating recovery of the flood-damaged riverside forest along the Blanco River.
The trees and other riparian vegetation will help filter pollutants, slow flooding, shade the river, and provide habitat for the wildlife of Central Texas. All owners of private land damaged by the historic flood along the Blanco River in Hays County are eligible to receive free reforestation services. The project is still under development and details regarding specific services offered will become available on this page as they are determined.
During the project’s first phase in fall and winter 2015, we’ll focus on establishing the technical guidelines for successful reforestation, such as determining appropriate tree species and planting densities. In addition to consulting with a technical advisory group of local experts, TreeFolks and other stakeholders will visit and assess properties deforested during the flood and speak with landowners to discuss their individual reforestation goals.
Due to the large quantity of seedlings necessary to reforest the damaged banks of the Blanco River, extensive seed collection and nursery production will be necessary. Native seeds will be collected from local sources and sown at supporting nurseries in spring 2016 so that the program’s first available seedlings will be ready for planting in fall and winter 2016.
Demand for reforestation services is expected to be high, and will likely require the project’s continuation over several years. It is important to understand that ecological restoration is a multi-year process and that it is not possible to serve all properties within the first year of the project. TreeFolks’ priority will be to serve landowners in a fair and equitable manner.
Before cost-free reforestation is implemented through the Blanco River Reforestation Project, seedlings may be made available for purchase through other sources, such as nurseries or the Texas A&M Forest Service. Those interested in planting trees on their own are encouraged to do so. While landowners are encouraged to seek restoration resources that are right for them, contacting TreeFolks is the first step to participating in the cost-free Blanco River Reforestation Project.
To participate, landowners will need to submit an application to TreeFolks. Click here to complete the application online. You can also reach the Blanco River Reforestation Project Coordinator, Ina Alexatos by calling 512-443-5323 or sending an email to blancoriver at treefolks dot org if you have questions or need help completing the application. Listed below are a handful of frequently asked questions. We will update this page as the reforestation project takes shape.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is being offered? Free trees, a service to plant the trees for you, free consultation with TreeFolks staff concerning the specific needs of your property and a tailored planting plan. Properties along the Blanco River in Hays County are eligible. Details of the program are still in development, and we will keep you notified as they resolve.
Why is this program being offered? The goal is to reforest the banks of the Blanco River in Hays County to the highest extent possible. A healthy riverside, or riparian forest, will filter pollutants, slow flooding, shade the river and provide habitat for the wildlife of Central Texas.
Who is paying for it? Hays County has entered a contract with TreeFolks for an assessment phase and pilot program, with the goal of launching a four year program to serve all affected landowners who choose to participate. Fundraising efforts will be needed to pay for the large numbers of trees associated with this program.
Who is leading the program? TreeFolks is an Austin-based nonprofit organization with over 25 years of tree planting history in Central Texas. TreeFolks’ programs seek to improve quality of life for Central Texans by cleaning air and water, shading us from the hot Texas sun, and providing wildlife habitat for a diverse and healthy ecosystem. Through the Bastrop Reforestation Program, TreeFolks provides free reforestation services to private landowners affected by the devastating 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire. So far, volunteers, landowners and professional crews have planted over 1.3 million pine seedlings on private land in Bastrop County, Texas.
When will I get trees? While a very limited number of properties will be contacted for a pilot program this winter (January 2015 -March 2016), the program will officially launch in fall 2016. Landowners who sign up early will likely receive services first; as you have been proactive in reaching out for trees, you will be high on the list.
What kind of trees will I receive? Bald Cypress and a diverse array of native trees (TBA depending on seed sourcing and nursery availability).
What can I do in the meantime? Stabilize your soil by spreading mulch or seeding native grasses. The success of your future forest may depend on it. For further information, visit the Hill Country Alliance post-flood resources page: Letting the River Heal.