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Bastrop tree planting – new life in the new year

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© Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (Earl Nottingham photo) © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (Earl Nottingham photo)

The new year is bringing newlife to Bastrop State Park as volunteers gather to plant the first of 220,000 Loblolly pine seedlings this winter. The new trees will replacesome of those lost from the devastating Labor Day wildfires of 2011.

About 75 people gather earlyin December to put the next generation of Loblolly Pines back in Bastrop StatePark. Thedelicate saplings are adapted to less rainfall, sandier soil and will not growas tall or as thick as pine trees in East Texas. The seeds are donated from theTexas Forest Service and have been growing in nurseries across several statessince last Spring. It's a well thought out design for a tragedy that seemedunthinkable.

The wildfires that racedacross the drought stricken lands southeast of Austin scorched 95 percent ofthis popular state park.  The irreplaceable, historic cabins built by theCCC in the 1930s were saved and continue to bring visitors today. It willstill take many more years to heal, but most of the park is now open.

"We are pretty much fullyopen minus a couple of miles of hiking trails," says Katie Raney an interpreterat Bastrop State Park. "Got great group facilities and cabins, lots oftrails and of course, volunteer activities as well."

The goal is to plant2- trees over the next five years. To volunteer for a future treeplanting day or to make a donation to plant a tree, go to www.arborday.org/texas.

On the Web:

http://www.facebook.com/JohnDawsonFOX26

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/bastrop

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/bastrop/fire/

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