A crowd of 200 volunteers, dignitaries, VIPs, and students welcomed Former First Lady Laura Bush to Wolf Creek Park on September 13 for the planting of 1,900 American Water-willows. Mrs. Bush was on hand to welcome LLFoR as a Conservation Wrangler for Texan by Nature, a conservancy program she founded to shine a light on the very best Texan-led conservation projects.
In her remarks, Mrs. Bush said the project shows a community working together, another example of Texans pooling their resources for the greater good, a spirit that was on display for the world during Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.
"These fisheries are dependent on good habitat for sustainability. As reservoirs age, water quality can decline, and fishing and water-based recreation can suffer as a result," said Craig Bonds, director of the Inland Fisheries Division for the Texas Parks and Wildlife. "One shining example of a community-driven grassroots partnership is the Lake Livingston Friends of Reservoirs chapter. This chapter is forming partnerships to leverage national, state, and local support with the goal of propagating and planting native aquatic plants throughout the shoreline of Lake Livingston."
The planting event was supported and underwritten by the Trinity River Authority. TRA Board President David Leonard said, "TRA couldn't be more proud of the young people who are investing in their community, learning skills and going beyond the benefit that they provide to Lake Livingston in planting the American water willows. This plant is a key to maintaining the ecosystem of the lake and making it a place where communities and families will continue to enjoy for years to come."
The students active in the planting, representing Big Sandy, Coldspring-Oakhurst, Corrigan-Camden, Livingston, Onalaska, and Shepherd high schools, are also involved in growing and propagating the plants used in the project, along with inmate horticulturalists at the TDC Ellis Unit in Huntsville. Mrs. Bush spent time learning about the Ellis horticulture program with James "Scooter" Langley of Lee College and program instructor, with Texan by Nature Board President Tina Buford looking on
After the planting, photos with Mrs. Bush, and presentations, Onalaska High School’s cooking team served up dogs and burgers. It was a great day in the park, even with the swarming love bugs.