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Volunteers gather in effort to preserve Valley thornforests

5 months 3 weeks 5 days ago Sunday, October 22 2023 Oct 22, 2023 October 22, 2023 2:44 PM October 22, 2023 in News - Local

Over 700 local volunteers geared up with shovels and gloves with the goal of helping restore local thornforests.

Tami Bhadai, a fifth-grade teacher at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, says she brought her 13 students to Rio Reforestation to teach them the importance of preserving our natural environment.

"It's an experience for them, they are never going to forget," Bhadai said. "They are going to hit over a hundred trees and native plants today, which makes us super happy, our hearts happy."

Rio Reforestation returned after taking three years off. The event was spearheaded by several nonprofits dedicated to replenishing the Valley's thornforests. 

"Thornforests were historically here throughout the early 1900s, 1910, 1920, really after that point we started becoming agriculturally developed here, and the urbanization took more of that land out of production," American Forests Director of Texas and Mexico Jon Dale said.

Dale says because of farming and more buildings popping up, the amount of thorn forest left in the Valley is decreasing.

He says the forest is home to over 1,200 plants, over 500 birds and 300 butterfly species.

American Forests says the volunteers helped plant over 30 different species of thornforests and in total, over 12,000 seedlings were planted over 12 acres at the Milagros Tract in Pharr. 

American Forests also announced their next project. A $10 million federal contract award will be used to restore over 800 acres of Valley thorn forest during the next four years. 

With the extra funding, more volunteers can make a difference one tree at a time.

Watch the video above for the full story.

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