Our class began at the training center where we watched a short film, Ora E. Anerson's A Forest Returns. It is an incredible and eye-opening film. A lot of southeast Ohioans do not realize that this gorgeous forest that surrounds us was not here prior to The Great Depression. Farming and agriculture completely wiped out the great forests that were home to the Native Americans. Restoration efforts did not begin until the farmers had exhausted the soil and tough economics forced citizens deep into poverty and debt. As part of a relief effort, our government began buying these troubled farms with the agreement that the former owner could continue living in the house (which was usually some type of cabin or shack) as long as all surrounding acres were allowed to grow and return to forest. Once the owners left the property, the abandoned house would be demolished and the forest would be allowed to reclaim the land.
After the indoor classroom portion of the evening, we ventured out to see the Experimental Forest first hand! I had only made it about three steps out of the building before discovering this Eastern Fence Lizard. I only had time to snap one decent shot and off he went! A great "introduction" to the forest indeed!
|eastern fence lizard (we have five species here in Ohio)|
Dave Apsley, an expert in forest management and a natural resource specialist for The Ohio State University Extension Office, was our instructor for the evening.
|Dave, showing us a rare five-sectioned sassafras leaf! He was excited to find this and we were excited to see it!|
|discussing tree species|
|next we boarded a wagon, sat down on a hay bail and headed deep into the forest|
|notice the difference in this section of forest? it has been through three prescribed fires. under the care of experts, prescribed fires can renew the forest|
|musclewood...so neat! I love how it looks like muscles, hence the name!|
|one of the highlights of the evening was getting to see this gorgeous specimen of an American Chestnut Tree!! It was the first time many of us had ever seen one!|
|Tree of Heaven is NOT a nice species! It is invasive and it stinks BAD! eew! I couldn't believe how bad it smelled!|
|our feelings toward Tree of Heaven are not heavenly!|