Texas Conservation Corps – Still in Bastrop!

At the end of orientation, the final TxCC teams were decided. Our six field members and two crew leaders make up the Green Team field crew (or more lovingly referred to as ‘Gang Green’). After learning a bit more about each other, we discussed what our first project would be: habitat restoration in Bastrop, a city about 30 miles east of Austin. Bastrop was affected by a massive wildfire in 2011, which burned across 34,000 acres and destroyed about 1,700 homes. Our project involved replanting loblolly pines in the burned landscape. The species of loblolly pine we planted varies from the species located in the southeastern United States as they are more drought-resistant and are endemic to the Central Texas region, meaning that they occur only in this area. These pines are important to maintaining the biodiversity of the region and our efforts to replant will aid in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem in the future.

We partnered with TreeFolks, a nonprofit that helps plant trees in Austin and in surrounding areas. The pines were supplied by the Texas Forest Service, who provided the trees free of charge to plant on private properties in Bastrop. The first few days of planting, we received additional assistance from the Red Team, one of the TxCC Emergency Response Teams. We enjoyed working together and comparing our progress across different plots. Planting the trees was a fairly simple process that involved using rock bars to dig holes in the soil, placing the saplings into the ground, and ensuring they were covered with soil and secure in the ground. We certainly had our obstacles along the way, including rocky soil and thick brush, but with the help of TreeFolks and the Red Team, we were able to plant 15,000 trees! After doing chainsaw training last week, it was nice to be able to put some trees back in the ground this week. However, our next project involves more chainsaw work, which we’re all excited to do. We will also spend sometime this spring at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, sowing pine seeds for next fall. Stay tuned for the next task Gang Green tackles!

Alison Agresta, Crew Member, Field Crew Green

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