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Replant restores Bastrop

Students reforest park destroyed by 2010 wildfires

Published: Monday, February 25, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 00:02

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More than 700 volunteers descend on Bastrop State Park to help replant trees in an effort to reverse the effects of the massive forest fires from 2010.

Over a year after a fire engulfed nearly 96 percent of Bastrop State Park, destroying the current ecosystem and leaving the land prone to erosion, volunteers with Aggie Replant helped the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association take another step on the road to recovery.

More than 700 volunteers participated in the Lost Pines Campaign during the last two weekends. According to senior engineering technology major and Replant board of directors member Bradford Wettig, the summation of all the volunteers’ work amounts to around 12,000 to 15,000 newly planted saplings and trees.

“It was unprecendented,” Wettig said. “It’s not something we’ve ever done before, but I think it went great and we had lots of volunteers show up.”

Not only was a significant impact made on the environment, Wettig said, but students also generally held positive attitudes and a good work ethic throughout the weekends.

“When we had to be back to meet the deadline to get the buses back, we had to actually pull some people away from planting,” Wettig said.

Replant member and sophomore general studies major Austin Allen said students initially got into the spirit of the campaign after hearing the speakers talk to volunteers on the first day.

“I attended the first day of it and I think a lot of [volunteers] didn’t really know what they were getting into,” Allen said. “They really had no idea how big the ordeal was. Once they heard the background story and heard all of those people speak, I feel like they got really excited to do what they are doing and realized how much they were really representing our school.”

Allen said the work itself was not always easy, but the reward was well worth it.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Allen said. “I mean, the stuff that we do is sometimes really hard work, but it’s a really great organization to be a part of.”

Junior political science major Timothy Todd said he saw the project as something that will pay off in the long run, and hopes to help out in the future.

“It was just a really amazing experience getting to help in the replanting,” Todd said. “I can't wait to go back in a many years to see the huge difference that was started by just a few days’ worth of work by Aggies who saw a problem, and set their minds to fixing it.”

Wettig said representatives from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association were present to go over safety procedures at the beginning of each day and then stayed to act as a resource for volunteers, making the project a combined effort between Aggies and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association.

Despite the thousands of trees planted, Wetting said Bastrop will need greater repair, beyond the three sections that volunteers filled in the past two weekends. He asked for students to be on the lookout for a revival of the project next year.

“This is the first step in a long process,” Wettig said. “There is a huge, vast amount of land that needs to be reforested.”

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