Thursday, July 25, 2013
By Erin Green – Austin Community Newspapers Staff
The numbers from the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire are well-known by now. More than 1,600 homes destroyed. More than 34,000 acres burned. Two people lost their lives.
The ongoing recovery efforts are continuing and will be continuing for years to come yet.
Those efforts include, of course, replanting the trees lost.
And that’s where TreeFolks enters the picture.
According to its website at treefolks.org, the organization is the only charity in Central Texas providing comprehensive urban forestry practices to public, private and government audiences. For more than 20 years, TreeFolks has planted more than 250,000 trees in and around Austin at schools, in parks, in medians, rights-of-way, community gardens and greenbelts.
Right here in Bastrop, the organization is helping rebuild the forests destroyed in the wildfire. TreeFolks has mailed 3,000 applications to landowners affected by the Bastrop County Complex Fire, encouraging them to apply for reforestation services through the Bastrop County Community Reforestation Program.
The service is free and any landowner within the burn zone who did not receive an application may download one from the organization’s website, TreeFolks Program Manager Carly Blankenship said.
“TreeFolks will make every effort to serve landowners in the order in which applications are received,” Blankenship said. “If your property does not receive tree planting services this year, we ask for your patience. The demand for trees and reforestation services is far greater than the availability of tree planting resources.”
The BCCRP, she said, is accelerating the recovery of the Lost Pines ecosystem by providing reforestation services to landowners in a five-year campaign to plant more than 1.5 million Loblolly pine seedlings. Last winter, Blankenship said, TreeFolk volunteers planted 68,000 Loblolly pines and mixed hardwood trees on 54 privately-owned parcels of land throughout the burn area.
The criteria used to determine which landowners would receive the trees first was much stricter because of the very limited number of trees available, Blankenship said. That won’t be a concern this year because over the winter, volunteers went to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center to plant some 360,000 Loblolly pine seedlings and planning for the current year — the winter of 2013-14 — includes a goal of planting 750,000 trees on approximately 1,500 acres, she said.
So how does TreeFolks decide which landowners get reforestation services? By the applications, which the organization fills on a first-come, first-served basis, she said. Those who filled out applications already but who have not had trees planted yet due to limited numbers last winter will be receiving trees this year, she said.
The first-come, first-served service is also completely free, Blankenship said. TreeFolks is a nonprofit which operates on grants and donations.
For more information on TreeFolks or to download the application for reforestation services, log onto treefolks.org/reforestation or call 512-443-LEAF (5323).