Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Trees for Life" event on March 31 in Blacksburg

via Citizens First


Trees for Life!

Looking for a Community Service Project?

Want to Help Restore the Ecology of the Toms Creek Corridor?

Interested in Teaching Your Children How to Plant and Care for Trees, and to Appreciate Nature’s Power to Nurture both Land and People?

Join Us for the Fifth Annual “Trees for Life” Program

Heritage Park and Natural Area

Blacksburg , Virginia

Saturday, March 31, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

A Collaborative Community-Building Program to Promote Ecological Awareness and Restoration Starting at the Heritage Park and Natural Area in Blacksburg , VA

Coordinated by John Browder and Britt Boucher.
Sponsored by the Blacksburg Natural Heritage Foundation,
The Town of Blacksburg Department of Parks and Recreation,
And, the Virginia State Department of Forestry

Our basic values toward the natural world are usually forged when we are children. Children are innately inquisitive about the natural world, yet apart from the occasional field trip to a “nature preserve” or a zoo, most formal environmental education comes from textbooks and videos. We know that many parents desire to take an active role in their children’s environmental education. The 170-acre Heritage Park and Natural Area (former Brown Farm) in the Toms Creek Watershed was designated as a community park and natural area by Blacksburg Town Council in December 2002, and provides a splendid location for practical and hands-on environmental education for everyone.

Here is the basic idea of “Trees for Life”: Everyone is invited, especially children (youth) and their parents and teachers, but seniors and singles have an important role to play as well. We will plant native tree saplings donated by the Virginia Department of Forestry in designated reforestation areas of Heritage Park and Natural Area. Participants who care for their sapling (i.e. follow a basic maintenance plan) for two years will receive a certificate and have their tree designated in their name on a register -- a living monument to their life in Blacksburg . Participants will receive training in basic tree planting/maintenance and forest ecology from a professional forester, Mr. Britt Boucher, and will plant the seedlings under supervision of the Town Parks & Recreation Department.

Care for Saplings: Caring for their saplings may entail 3-4 visits to the park every year to weed, water, and repair protective shelters or meshing, and to inspect each planted sapling for insects, fungus, and animal depredations. By caring for their saplings, children and adults learn not only the ecology of tree life, but develop a life-long sense of place in Blacksburg , hence “Trees for Life” . Years later, these young people may return to Blacksburg and take a pilgrimage to Heritage Park to visit “their” growing trees that are also a part of their personal heritage.

The Trees for Life Program promotes:

• “Hands-on” environmental education at a basic level: focusing on the importance of trees for the ecosystem vitality and for the well-being of society;
• A personal affinity for nature: building a “sense of place” in Blacksburg (among children and adults alike);
• Community-building: engaging children, grandchildren, their parents, grandparents, and other adults parents in a community-based participatory ecological restoration activity;
• Restoration of degraded ecosystems at the Heritage Park and Natural Area, thus contributing to the realization of this public park as a more diverse natural area;
• Pro-active and committed public use of the Heritage Park and Natural Area.

While this initiative looks a lot like a conventional Johnny Appleseed/Arbor Day/Earth Day program, it is innovative in its participant commitment to caring for trees over time. As such, it becomes a tutorial in our stewardship of nature. Imagine the connections to the classroom and beyond: the planting sites serve as living laboratories for learning the basics of woodland ecology, biometrics, plant pathology, nutrient recycling, while potentially cultivating a long-term ecological and spiritual sensitivity toward the non-human world.

Four years ago we launched TFL as a pilot (test), and eight families came out on April 12 and planted 23 saplings by the pond at Heritage Park and Natural Area. The next year 14 families and individuals joined the program, and planted 50 seedlings around the Meadowbrook Road parking lot. In 2005 participants planted over 600 seedlings, as part of a combined Trees for Life and Riparian Corridor Restoration project. This is all incredibly exciting. Thus far, the pilot has been very successful – and over 80% of the saplings have survived and look quite healthy!

In March 2007 the “Trees for Life” effort will continue its mission to stabilize the areas surrounding the wetlands at Heritage Park and Natural Area. Come out and contribute!
Each participant will be provided between 1-5 saplings to plant following the planting methods specified by our professional forester.