Travis County Floodplain Reforestation Program
The Travis County Floodplain Reforestation Program works to restore healthy forest buffers in eastern Travis County floodplains, also called riparian or streamside areas, while also addressing regional climate impacts by generating public and private land carbon offsets.
Riparian forests improve water quality, provide wildlife habitat, and contribute to our overall wellbeing. In addition to improving air quality, these streamside forests sequester enough carbon to counteract the effects of local fossil fuel consumption, primarily that of motorized vehicles.
Reforestation services are absolutely free of charge and include free trees, planting services, and consultations. If the land is eligible for generating carbon offsets, applicants that choose to participate in the Carbon+ Credit pilot project will be given higher priority.
All of the carbon offsets produced from tree planting will be given to Austin’s Office of Sustainability to help meet the City of Austin’s 2020 carbon neutrality goal. All proceeds generated from the sale of carbon credits to the City of Austin will be exclusively used by TreeFolks for program administration and future tree plantings in Central Texas.
The Travis County Floodplain Reforestation Program is a collaborative effort between TreeFolks, the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability and Watershed Protection Department, Travis County, and City Forest Credits.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I qualify?
To receive reforestation services, the applicant must own land that is (a) within eastern Travis County, (b) crosses a flowing stream, and (c) not be completely covered in a forest.
The Watershed Protection Department of the City of Austin contributed an analysis of potential areas to target for reforesting riparian greenbelts in eastern Travis County. Based on this analysis, TreeFolks will select high priority public and private land parcels eligible for reforestation services.
How much does the program cost?
The program is completely free for participating landowners. The program includes free trees, planting services, and consultations from our certified arborists.
What are Carbon+ Credits?
Carbon+ Credits are at their simplest a way to estimate how much one metric ton of carbon dioxide is worth once it has been removed from the atmosphere. One metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted by a car or an industrial plant may be ‘offset’ by doing something to capture carbon from the air.
In this case, the City of Austin would like to purchase credits to offset the carbon generated by daily activities (mostly driving vehicles). Carbon credits are quantified using a unique method developed by scientists at the nonprofit City Forest Credits 501(c)3.
This method accounts for the particular environmental variables of riparian plantings in our region and includes the additional benefits of quantified rainfall interception, energy savings, and air quality improvements.
Do I have to allow Carbon+ Credits to be generated from my land in order to participate?
No, you can receive reforestation services regardless. You will be prioritized higher on our list should you choose to participate in the Carbon+ Credit portion of the program.
If I participate in the Carbon+ Credits pilot project, what does that mean for me?
This program is novel in its goal of generating carbon credits from our free planting services on private Texas land. Should you choose to work with us to help us try this exciting new framework, we will work hand-in-hand with you as the process develops. The most important things to know are:
- Producing carbon credits requires a promise to not remove the trees for 25 years, so that they may sequester enough carbon to be meaningful
- Tree growth will be measured by satellite imagery, like Google Maps, and will require little to no access to the property over those 25 years
- Funds generated from the sale of the carbon credits will be used exclusively by TreeFolks, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, to fund future tree plantings in Central Texas and will not be used for personal gain
- The value of the carbon credits may be tax-deductible
- The landowner will need to sign an agreement to transfer credits to the nonprofit.
Other than that, we anticipate little effort on behalf of the landowner – all paperwork and fees will be handled by the nonprofit.
Assisting TreeFolks in piloting this program will allow you to protect your trees and give back to your community for future generations!
What size trees will be planted?
In our work reforesting the Lost Pines after the fires of 2011 and along the Blanco River after the floods of 2015, we found that large-scale reforestation through planting small saplings is the most cost-effective method of establishing forestland at scale.
The methodology, backed by peer-reviewed science, yields healthy forest density by overplanting low-cost native tree saplings at high density in order to offset mortality. Lack of irrigation and fencing needs (except in the case of active livestock grazing) or other interventions help keep the costs low.
Landowners are not expected to actively maintain the saplings once planted and are offered free educational consultations to increase understanding of the importance of healthy, riparian forests, with follow-up tree survival studies where applicable.
Planting is performed by volunteers, AmeriCorps youth crews, and private contractors.
Where can I get more information?
For questions, comments, or concerns, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org