University of Texas at Austin students who are part of the Campus Environmental Center are helping to reforest the burnt lands of Bastrop by sending the city more than 40,000 loblolly pine tree seedlings.
Vlad Codrea, a graduate research assistant at UT, is overseeing the project at the tree nursery at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday, the Campus Environmental Center will extract the tree seedlings from their containers and package them to be sent to Bastrop.
Codrea said the project actually began in March 2011, before the Bastrop fires, when he first asked for funding for a tree nursery from UT's Green Fee Committee. The Committee reviews environmental projects pitched by UT students and awards grant money so the students can complete these projects. Codrea was awarded a $54,198 grant over four years.
Originally, Codrea said the plan was to send these seedlings all across Texas. But after the Bastrop fire, his plans changed.
“After the fires of 2011, the need became apparent to direct all of our efforts to reforesting Bastrop,” Codrea said.
The Bastrop fires were the most destructive wildfire in Texas history, destroying more than 1,500 homes and raging for days.
Though Bastrop stands to gain more than 40,000 trees because of this effort, some of these trees might not survive the first year, Codrea said.
“There is always a risk that the seedlings are damaged,” Codrea said. “And there is no guarantee it will be mild enough, cold enough and wet enough for the seedlings to put enough roots in the actual ground before the summer heat and drought arrives.”
Anyone is welcome to volunteer help for extracting the seeds, Codrea said.