Above, City Councilmember Chris Sheffield (place 3) addresses the crowd at Blue Hole. Photo by Joe Smith/ The Wimberley View.
Local volunteers reforest Blue Hole Regional Park
Take a hike at Blue Hole Regional Park down toward Cypress Creek, staying to the right, past the stone tables. Working your way out, toward the chains on the right, you will see hundreds of small orange flags. Each of the flags represent a sapling planted in the area this weekend.
Plant Your Park on Saturday, Jan. 21, was sponsored by the Wimberley Parks and Recreation Department in cooperation with TreeFolks of Austin. The event saw over 80 registered volunteers making their own contribution to the riparian areas on the banks and near Cypress Creek. TreeFolks provided 15 volunteer supervisors along with a few staff to oversee preparation, training, and safety presentations prior to planting.
Gillian Hodler serves as a volunteer coordinator with the organization, a position she assumed last year.
“My background includes being an avid volunteer and wanting to protect the environment and give back in tangible ways,” she said. “Planting trees is a great way to do both. We perform container plantings at schools, parks, and natural areas while our Central Texas Floodplain Reforestation Program provides native species saplings in Austin and the seven counties we cover.”
The trees provided for the TreeFolks projects — which include around 20 plantings during the October through March season — are purchased from various nurseries through grants and individual contributions. All reforestation plants are native species while some of the container trees planted include natives as well as fruit trees. Trees are also obtained from the Texas Forestry Service and in concert with the Native Plant Society of Texas.
Community Tree Planting and GIS Manager Max Gonzalez addressed the large group of volunteers regarding the purpose behind the event.
“Our Central Texas Reforestation program looks for degraded areas as a chance to introduce a new diversity of trees to the area,” he explained. “Not all of the native species planted by these volunteers will survive, but the more that are planted, the more likely some will grow to maturity. Those will provide seeds and offspring to continue the efforts we start today.”
Participants used tools provided by Tree Folks to open holes in the park to plant the saplings. Rock bars, dibbles (pointed spades used to open space for planting) and sharp-shooter shovels were used by the volunteers, which varied in age from pre-kindergartners to those in their 80s.
Wimberley Place Three City Councilmember Chris Sheffield, a state parks trail coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, thanked the crowd for their donation of time and effort to serve the community at the event. Sheffield and his family also planted trees in a marshy area next to the creek.
Also in attendance at the event were Zack and Karina Rash, a couple of new residents who moved to Wimberley from southeast Austin just a few months ago. They saw the planting project as an opportunity to get involved, according to Zack.
“We love the outdoors and being close to nature,” he explained. “It’s one of the reasons we moved to Wimberley. We saw this on a community forum and felt it would be a great investment in our new home town.”
Hodler brought perspective to the effort.
“Planting these trees shows a concern for a future we’ll never see,” she said. “We all have an opportunity now to impact the future, to help the environment and provide clean water and air through natural resources for generations to come.”
TreeFolks is in the early planning stages to develop their own nursery, according to Hodler.
“We’ve had difficulty getting some of the species, like cottonwood, that we use for our reforestation program,” she said. “Developing our own nursery could assure that these projects continue without limiting the species or number of trees we can plant.”
Opportunities to donate or volunteer with TreeFolks can be found on the top banner of their website at treefolks.org.