Rio Reforestation 25th Anniversary
Saturday, October 15, 2016

By Christine Donald, Outdoor Recreation Planner Santa Ana NWR
published October 2016

Fall is right around the corner, and for me, this signifies that it is time again for the Annual Rio Reforestation event. This year, 2016, marks the 25th year that the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge has hosted this annual event.

Even though it takes a lot of hard work and planning, this is one of my favorite events and I look forward to it every year. I know that what comes as a result of this event is priceless and makes it worth every bit of effort put forth. Every year hundreds of volunteers come out to participate in this event. They come in groups from schools, universities, scout troops, local families, churches, environmental organizations and many others from neighboring communities. By planting native plants into areas that often were originally cleared for farming, business, or residences; these volunteers are giving back to the land by restoring a natural habitat for area wildlife.

It is a wonderful event and fun for me to watch. I enjoy seeing everybody, young and young at heart, out planting and knowing that all of their hard work will benefit our local wildlife. This event can have a healing effect, especially for the youth who too often seem disconnected from nature.

So here's your chance to get out there and get your hands dirty, feel the earth between your fingers and enjoy the outdoors with lots of other folks. There is no better way to get our young people involved than by giving them a purpose and a chance to make a difference in the future of our Valley. We need 1,000 volunteers to help plant 23 acres with trees and shrubs. If you want to help us in restoring wildlife habitat; bring a shovel, old clothes and shoes, sunscreen, a hat and a willingness to donate some time.

The event is Saturday, October 15th. From 8 am to 11 am we will be planting in the fields. Environmental tables are open beginning at 10:30 am. Hotdogs, chips, drinks, and cake will be served for lunch starting at 11 am. For those that come out and help out on our 25th Anniversary there will also be some extra goodies for you (While supplies last). You can fill out an online application to participate by going to: Click on the link for Rio Reforestation which is found on the main web page. Scroll down the page to get registration forms. You can also register on the day of the event as well or I can email registration forms to you. Just send me a request at:

See the directional map to the planting site shown here. There will be U.S. Fish & Wildlife Staff to guide you directly to the site. I hope to see you there!