The event was billed as “Free trees for Bastrop County” and area residents didn’t waste any time taking advantage of the offering at Mayfest Park on Feb. 15.
Slated for approximately four hours – from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – the free 14,000 trees being given away by TreeFolks and supporting groups were gone in less than an hour and a half.
“It was awesome, we gave away 2,000 hardwood trees and 12,000 loblolly pines – they’re all gone,” said Jason Alfaro, the city of Bastrop’s parks superintendent, as he stood next to the now-empty distribution area behind American Legion Post 533.
The event was to help in the recovery of the Bastrop area’s famed Lost Pines after the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire. But some area residents, who said they were fortunate not to have been hit by the wildfires, were also welcome to come help Mother Nature bounce back – and they did.
“This is a nice way to replenish the environment and have a proactive response” by people affected by the fires, said Dawn Dickerson-Sankofa as she loaded up her vehicle with some loblolly pines.
She added her husband had been busy clearing drought-ravaged trees from their property, which was not swept by the 2011 fire.
“He’s cutting down trees to create a fire barrier,” Dickerson-Sankofa said. Even the youngsters were getting in on the event.
“This is really cool to get free trees,” said Angel Benda, 9, a Red Rock Elementary School student who was helping her grandparents load up a few seedlings. “These trees will help build back our shade and help the forest animals to come back, so this whole place can come back to life!”
Carly Blankenship, acting executive director with TreeFolks, said a change in the distribution method for free trees this year likely helped speed the giveaway process.
“We allowed people to park their cars and walk up, versus last year’s drive-up process,” Blankenship said. “We had 50 volunteers, too. This is a five-year program … of reforestation efforts after the fire. Our goal is to distribute 2 million trees.”
TreeFolks also gave kudos to several organizations for helping support the event, including the Arbor Day Foundation, American Forests, Texas A&M Forest Service and the Alcoa Foundation.
Read the story at the Statesman here: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/bastrop-county-gone-in-no-time/ndTBx/