Tree planting helps restore 100 acres of bottomland hardwood forest
Entergy Texas, Inc., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and The Conservation Fund have teamed up to plant more than 45,000 trees at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, located 45 miles northeast of Houston, as part of a two-year initiative to restore 100 acres of bottomland hardwood forest. Over their lifetime, the trees will clean the air, provide habitat for wildlife, and filter and hold water for communities along the Trinity River as it flows into the bays, estuaries and waterways of the Gulf of Mexico.
Entergy Corporation shareholders are providing funding for the restoration activities through the company’s Environmental Initiatives Fund. The fund directs $1 million annually to environmental improvement projects ranging from wetlands restoration and reforestation to carbon credit methodology and more.
The company’s support of the Trinity River project also includes funding of internship opportunities at the refuge for aspiring natural resource conservation professionals who will help enhance the survival of the newly planted trees, control invasive species at the refuge and educate the public on wildlife, forests and climate, giving the next generation of conservation champions hands-on experience in a real-world environment.
“Entergy aspires to be an industry leader in protecting our environment. We are committed to being a good steward of the land that we own and the wildlife and natural resources that are in our care,” said Sallie Rainer, president and CEO of Entergy Texas, Inc. “This grant directly impacts vital lands in our service area, and the improvements it will bring will have lasting benefits on the communities we serve.”
For a century, the wildlife habitat in this Trinity River region has been fragmented by development, agriculture and deforestation. Restoring these lands has been a top priority for the refuge. Bottomland hardwood forests support abundant populations of bald eagles, white-tailed deer, alligators, freshwater turtles, river otters and a variety of waterfowl species. This type of habitat is used during migration or nesting by nearly 50 percent of the neotropical migratory bird species listed by USFWS.
“It is exciting to get to work with a company like Entergy, Texas, Inc.,” said Stuart Marcus, refuge manager of the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge. “Without their commitment, a restoration project of this size would never get off the ground.”
The Trinity River flows near two of the nation’s most populous cities: Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston. Protection and restoration of forested wetlands along the Trinity River creates a life-saving buffer for these urban areas during hurricanes and intense storms. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an acre of wetlands can typically absorb and store 1-1.5 million gallons of floodwater.
“We are grateful for Entergy’s forward-thinking approach to sustainability, for seeking opportunities to make a positive impact locally in the communities it serves,” said Jena Thompson Meredith, vice-president of business partnerships for The Conservation Fund. “The Trinity River and its watershed make up an important landscape and this support provides an opportunity to foster innovation in forest restoration, environmental education, water quality improvement, flood control, job training and climate change.”
For the last decade, The Conservation Fund has been a lead conservation and restoration partner at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, adding nearly 8,000 acres of essential bottomland hardwood forest, bayous and cypress ponds to the now 30,000-acre refuge.