Members of the Rotary Club of New Braunfels and Rotary Club of Zacoalco de Torres, Mexico recently completed a five-day environmental project where they planted 6,500 trees and helped landscape Zacoalco’s new Rotary Park.
Led by club member Alex Ozuna, the Rotary Club of New Braunfels delegation journeyed to the Guadalajara region of Mexico to assist the Zacoalco club in reforestation efforts to help prevent soil erosion due to the town’s lack of a proper drainage system. Prior to the arrival of the group from New Braunfels, the Zacoalco club had already distributed fruit, shade, and forest trees during the previous several weeks to households, schools, and parks.
Ozuna explained that because Rotary has been very involved over the past two years in protecting the environment, he felt this reforestation project was particularly important to participate in. This was the sixth project that the Rotary Club of New Braunfels has done with Zacoalco de Torres. Others have included wheelchair distribution and clean drinking water initiatives, but this is a first for an environmental cause.
Prior to becoming a member of the Rotary Club of New Braunfels, Ozuna was a member of the Concord Rotary Club in Northern California, where he established his relationship with the Zacoalco de Torres club. After retiring and moving to New Braunfels six years ago, he transferred to the Rotary Club of New Braunfels and brought this unique 15-year relationship with him. The club overwhelmingly agreed that the sisterhood with Zacoalco should continue and they planned their first project together.
Typically, the international trips to Zacoalco take place in the fall, but it was decided the reforestation project needed to take advantage of the region’s rainy season to allow the new plantings to establish themselves without constant hand watering – so instead it took place June 4th through 8th.
Participating from the Rotary Club of New Braunfels were Usi Aimiuwu, Norma Blackwell, Marcie Griffin, Lisa Hood, Kim Kiesling, Rick Kiesling, David Maltby, Gabriela Neira, Javier Neira, Alex Ozuna, Eric Pipkin, Julie Rivas, and Joyce Yannuzzi. They were joined by a team of ten from Zacoalco that included Rene Arenas, Beto Barragan, Chava Beas, Alicia Fajard, Socorro Flores, Sandra Frias, Pedro Gomez, Mireya Hernandez, Ruben Islas, and Melina Jimenez.
Over a period of three work days, the two teams, along with local school children and volunteers from the town, successfully planted thousands of trees of many different species including pine, rose wood, primavera, pomegranate, lime, mango, guava, almond, black olive, pistachio, loquat, neem, moringa, and tabachin. And, although their main task was planting trees, they also worked to help complete a new public open space, Rotary Park, which is designed in the shape of the Rotary wheel. The teams completed some of the first steps of the new space by planting sod and trees around the park’s recreation center.
Ozuna concluded by stating that although the newly planted trees won’t provide any sort of immediate benefit to the region, over the long-term, they will help with the erosion issues and eventually the town will be able to selectively harvest the trees for use in their primary industry, furniture making.
The two clubs look forward to their next project together sometime in 2023.