A central Texas forestry organization is looking for more land-owning participants in eastern Travis County for a new program to replant trees along streams and floodplains.
TreeFolks, the organization behind the Bastrop County Community Reforestation Program, is now working on a new project: the Travis County Floodplain Reforestation Program. The program is funded through a national grant from the Nature Conservancy called the Natural Climate Solution Accelerator program, which looks for natural solutions for reversing carbon pollution. The program would plant trees on riparian, or streamside, areas in eastern Travis County.
“People get free trees, free planting and free consultations, and the option of generating carbon credits is there if they want it,” said Andreina Alexatos, TreeFolks director of reforestation. “Right now, we’re taking applications from anyone in eastern Travis County that has a stream, a creek or a floodplain on their property.”
Part of the program involves generating carbon credits for the city of Austin by replanting in these riparian areas. Austin’s goal is to become carbon-neutral by the year 2020, and planting trees can help offset carbon dioxide emitted by the city.
Although the carbon credit aspect is optional for those wanting to participate in the program, TreeFolks encourages people to opt in.
“This is unique in the sense that we’re going to try to generate the carbon credits to offset pollution and see if reforestation can pay for itself, at least in part,” Alexatos said. “This has never been done before.”
Additionally, planting trees in floodplains and along streams helps hold the soil in place with a combination of their roots and the grasses that grow in these areas. Trees near streams also help keep the water cooler and cleaner, Alexatos said.
“For people who like to fish, it helps keep the water cooler and it helps fish spawn when the water is cooler, and when (the water is) actually there,” she said. “As a river is eroded, there’s less water and less wildlife.”
Right now, TreeFolks is focusing on the area of Travis County east of Highway 183. The 18-month pilot program will take place in Travis County because the county has been a partner in the project from the beginning, but Alexatos said if there is enough interest from landowners and if enough carbon credits are generated to get the program to pay for itself, there is a possibility of expanding the program into Bastrop County.
The application for the program has been open since the beginning of the year and can be found at https://treefolkstest.wpengine.com/travis-county-floodplain/. TreeFolks’ goal is to get 50 participants, five of which will be public parks, and they want to receive 100 applications by April; so far, about 50 applicants have signed up for the program. The plan is to plant 50,000 saplings, which translates to about 80 to 100 acres of trees, Alexatos said.
The trees were recently ordered, and TreeFolks will be ready to plant them in December, January and February. They will begin reaching out to the landowners who applied and begin visiting sites and giving consultations in May.
Written by: Julianne Hodges