BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — A group of volunteers will plant seedlings at Bastrop State Park Wednesday and Thursday, the latest step in the long-term efforts to regrow the pine forest destroyed in the wildfire that swept through the area in 2011.
About 96 percent of the park burned to varying degrees during the fire, and since then regrowth has come in stages. Dead trees still litter the ground, natural growth has sprung up in places where trees survived, and volunteers and park staff have planted seedlings in places without natural growth.
This week, 50 employees of Philadelphia Insurance Companies will plant thousands of seedlings grown from the park’s native seed. The company plants trees all over the country in areas hurt by wildfires. This will be its third time at Bastrop State Park.
In the last two years, the company said in a news release, their employees have personally planted 20,000 trees around Bastrop, and funded the planting of 100,000 more.
A year after they planted seedlings along a stretch of road in the park, the plants are still hard to find — these pines grow only about a foot a year. But the small growth is all part of the greater effort to bring the forest back in places that burned in 2011 and again in 2015.
“The trees that were here pre-wildfire were about 80 years of age,” park superintendent Jamie Creacy said, “so in terms of a long-term regeneration process, we’re looking at, you know, 80 years to look like maybe what people knew the park prior to the wildfire.”
By the end of the year, Creacy said, volunteers and park staff will have planted about 2 million trees since the fire.