BY LORI MURRAY

Many of us remember James Matz and his founding of Valley Proud in 1990. He and a small group of individuals wanted to motivate people to recycle and to conserve space in our rapidly filling landfills.

As the organization has grown over the years to become the Valley Proud Environmental Council, one of its major thrusts has been reforestation, a giving back to the land by planting native plants in areas that were originally cleared for farming, business, or residences.

Once replanted, these areas can provide habitat for local wildlife. So far, Rio Reforestation — a partnership of Valley Proud, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Friends of the Wildlife Corridor — has planted 670 acres with about 235,000 seedlings.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Rio Reforestation plans to plant 23 acres of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge at the Milagro Tract off Doffin Canal Road in Pharr on this Saturday, Oct. 15, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Afterwards, the organizations will host a Meet and Greet in Weslaco at the Chipotle Restaurant at 1919 West Expressway 83 from12:30 – 4:30 p.m.

As always, many are needed to plant the 14,000 native seedlings. Help can come from schools, universities, scout groups, local families, churches, environmental groups, and individuals.

The Valley Proud Environmental Council is dedicated to preserving the environment and natural beauty of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Its efforts have been recognized with 13 major state and national awards.

Volunteers are asked to bring their own shovel, work clothes, gloves, shoes, hat and sunscreen.

Food and refreshments will be provided, volunteers may register at any of the following: www.facebook.com/RioRegistration , www.valleyproud.org or by calling 956-784-7575.