BASTROP, Texas -- The dead trees are a reminder of the wildfires that raged through Bastrop State Park on Labor Day weekend last year. Charred ground shows where the fires were the most destructive.
Now, there are signs of life in this park. Shrubs and grass are growing again, putting some color back in this gray forest. The wildfires burned 96 percent of the park wiping out tens of thousands of loblolly pine trees.
Two loblolly pine seedlings are an example of what will be planted this weekend and throughout the months of December and January here at Bastrop State Park.
These examples are naturally growing but since most of the pine trees were wiped out during the fire, the park is bringing in many more of these seedlings to help supplement the growth.
Park superintendent Jamie Hackett said the Texas Forest Service harvested pine seeds here 50 years ago. They stored those seeds and grew them in nurseries in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.
Now, 220,000 of these seedlings will be delivered beginning this weekend. Volunteers will then carefully plant each by hand, to give new life to Bastrop State Park.
"It feels amazing. Really, it's a rare opportunity in someone's career to be able to influence the landscape at this level," said Hackett.
To Hackett, it was heart-wrenching to see these trees burn.
"A lot of folks were tied to this place as am I and so it meant a lot to see it burn, but it means just as much to be able to bring it back and influence the future of this place," she said.
For Rosario Lovelace and her son, Dakota, who were visiting from San Antonio, the signs of life in the forest were a surprise.
"You can see color on the ground now where the dead trees are, so I was excited about that, but you know there's seedlings being planted is really exciting," Rosario said.
"I think that's really cool to know that they're trying to do something to fight back against what the fire destroyed, and bring back some new life into this place," said Dakota.
It's life that begins with a newly planted seedling, growing into a stately pine.
Bastrop State Park has enough volunteers for this weekend (December 1st and 2nd), but park rangers need help planting the seedlings throughout December and January.
To volunteer, click here