Planting 1,000 Pine Trees

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The Office of University Communications
(210) 999-8406
Jan. 28, 2013

Planting 1,000 Pine Trees

Trinity University students join reforestation effort to benefit Bastrop State Park

By Mitch Hagney '13

SAN ANTONIO - In late January, students from Trinity University's Outdoor Recreation Program (O-Rec) went on our first service trip.  O-Rec is run entirely by students, and offers trips at least once every two weekends.  Annual trips include tubing, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, biking, and caving.  Trips span all across Texas and venture into other states on long breaks.  For this trip, we partnered with another student group, Students Organized for Sustainability, as volunteers.   

A year ago, a forest fire swept through the Lost Pines Forest of east central Texas.  The Bastrop County Complex fire was so severe that it burned 32,000 acres and scorched every seed on the ground for miles.  Burning 1,691 homes, the blaze is on record as the most destructive single wildfire in Texas history. 

Bastrop seedling Our groups went to Bastrop State Park, near the epicenter of the charred forest, and helped the park rangers plant loblolly pine trees to help the forest come back a little quicker and with fewer invasive species than it would do naturally.  We left on a Friday and slept under the open sky after relaxing around our campfire (very carefully, I might add!)  The next morning, we woke up early (perhaps the hardest part of the day), donned our state park helmets, grabbed our tree seedlings and shovels, and got to work.  In just two days, the 10 Trinity students who participated planted 1,000 pine trees. 

Walking through the decimated forest felt apocalyptic. One student mentioned that it reminded her of photographs of Dresden after it was bombed in World War II.  Still, the underbrush is already beginning to return, and the soil smells like a garden. It is a tremendous feeling to be amid the charred giants of such a large forest, planting the fragile seedlings that will recreate a vibrant place.  Especially among friends, planting the trees was a great experience.  Trips like these become a funny and unique set of distinct memories that contrasts nicely with a busy and urban experience Trinity.  It's a great organization to be a part of!

Mitchell Hagney, a senior from Nashua, N.H., is a double major in international environmental studies and human communication with a minor in geosciences.