Restoring The State’s Mysterious Lost Pines

This weekend marks one year since a wildfire destroyed Bastrop State Park and burned thousands of acres. The fire tore through a unique eco-system called the lost pines forest. Now a fundraising effort is underway to restore the decimated area.


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Last year, on Labor Day weekend, during the state’s worst drought on record, when the land was bone dry, a wildfire tore through the Bastrop area at an alarming pace.

Pete Smith with the Texas Forest Service says it was the most destructive wildfire in Texas history.

“It burned about 32,400 acres of the Lost Pines ecosystem here that we have in central Texas. It’s a very unique forest treasure for central Texas. The damage is just extraordinary, not only forest damage, but more 1,600 homes lost, habitat for the Houston Toad, two people lost their lives.”

One year later, the Texas Forest Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Arbor Day Foundation are launching a campaign to reforest Bastrop State Park.

Smith says they hope to plant 4-6 million native loblolly pine seedlings over the next five years in an effort to restore the habitat.

“These areas sort of need the hand of man to help bring them back. It’s just not going to happen by letting nature take its course.”

The fundraising effort is simple, for every dollar donated to the campaign, one tree will be planted. Still, it’ll take about 500 trees or $500 to reforest just one acre. For more information, visit the Lost Pines and Bastrop State Park websites.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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