Lost Pines Recovery
From 2011 to 2017, the Wildflower Center grew more than 250,000 loblolly pines (Pinus taeda) to help replenish the Lost Pines area of Bastrop County, which was devastated by wildfires in 2011.
The fires burned well over 30,000 acres, destroying homes and more than a million of the area’s distinct loblolly pines. One of the meanings of the word “loblolly” is “mud puddle,” and these pines are thought to thrive in the Bastrop area east of Austin due to a clay layer that settled beneath sand that may have initially drifted to the area from the Colorado River.
Vlad Codrea, a self-proclaimed tree enthusiast and biology grad student at The University of Texas at Austin, was inspired to help residents restore their native landscapes after the fire and knew they’d need trees to do it. Thanks to a $54,000 grant from the university’s Green Fee program (which rewards students for environmental service-related projects) and a little help from the Wildflower Center, he began a project that grew more than 70,000 native tree saplings. In addition to thousands of loblollies, the sapling supply included bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), cedar elm (Ulmus crassifolia), Montezuma bald cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) and American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). Codrea’s trees were distributed to residents through community events and distribution facilitated with the help of local nonprofit TreeFolks.
By 2013, the Center was involved in growing thousands more loblollies as a contractor for the Texas A&M Forest Service. Along with two other contractors, the Center helped regenerate public and private lands in the Lost Pines area as a participant in the Bastrop County Community Reforestation Program, a five-year effort funded by the Arbor Day Foundation.