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american forests

climate challenge: Less Water, Worse Droughts

grant award: $249,69; Year awarded: 2018

The Lower Rio Grande Valley, a fertile delta for the Rio Grande River in South Texas, is home to a native Texas thornscrub forest that serves as a habitat for more than 500 species of songbirds, 300 species of butterflies, and 11 threatened and endangered species, including the ocelot. Unfortunately, land use decisions have reduced the
forested area to 10% of its original span, with much of it fragmented. Climate models predict that this area will be further affected by drought due to increased temperatures and decreased rainfall. Using a joint climate mitigation and adaptation (JMA) solution, this project will restore 270 acres of degraded ranch lands to functioning thornscrub forest and promote drought resilience by planting drought-tolerant species, using tree shelters to retain soil moisture, and planting in locations that will serve as migration corridors for wildlife. As a result, 270,000 seedlings will be planted, resulting in nearly 100,000 tons of carbon stored over 50 years with 80% of carbon gains occurring as soil organic matter to mitigate climate change.