Hundreds Come Together for Annual Reforestation

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EDINBURG – It used to be Rio Grande Valley farmland, but over 300 people showed up on a Saturday morning determined to return the land back to how it was.

The people arrived armed with gloves, shovels and thousands of native plants. By one count, over 350 students, teachers and volunteers came for the annual reforestation of land next to the Sal del Rey Refuge northeast of Edinburg.

“This is the opportunity annually the public has to come and plant native plants side by side with the refuge. And this is part of our habitat restoration program,” La Sal del Rey Refuge manager Brian Witten said.

“Most of the feedback I’ve gotten from them today is that it’s cold out this morning,” Kim Wahl, a plant specialist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, said. “We have about 30 different species that are going into the site today. Just a mixture of different trees and shrubs that are important to wildlife habitat species that provide shelter, as well as provide food.”

There’s 17 acres that are being replanted this time. But it’s important because it brings together a small wetland and an area that was replanted recently.

“And so this field is connecting all those blocks together to create one larger area of habitat,” she said.

Jaclyn, a Progreso student, said the project is a learning experience for her.

Valerie Huerta from PSJA Reed and Mock Elementary said she enjoyed it. “A great experience like you have now-a-days to get out there and get their hands dirty and do something outside,” she said.

“It’s awesome. We bring our kids every year,” Dina Martinez from South Texas Mid-High ISD said.

In all, they estimate they’ve planted 10,800 seedlings.

“Events like this are very important where the public comes out and contributes their part of the restoration effort,” Witten said.

“I can go back to the fields we did five years ago and see trees that are taller than I am,” Wahl said.

It’s the annual reforestation. The goal is to help the Valley’s wildlife reclaim part of their habitat.

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