By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
This month professional foresters from around Oklahoma will host the “Walk in the Forest” event at Ardmore Regional Park. On Saturday, October 17 from 8 a.m. to noon, walkers and hikers of all ages and fitness levels are invited to enjoy trails and information stations that will be located along the way.
Foresters will be available at the seven information stations to educate attendees about everything from the practical benefits of the forest to the artistic and inspirational aspects of trees.
Each participant will be given a trail book and have the opportunity to participate in special “kid-friendly” activities at each station. Prizes will be given to those who complete the trail book exercises.
“Foresters and natural resource professionals from across the state will come together to provide a unique, fun and enlightening experience for all attendees,” said State Forester George Geissler.
“It’s really a rare opportunity to spend time enjoying our state’s forests and woodlands while getting your forest and tree questions answered.”
Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for varying weather conditions (rain or shine) and comfortable, sturdy shoes are recommended. Water will be provided, but attendees will need to bring their own containers. The event is provided at no charge.
Oklahoma’s “Walk in the Forest” is co-hosted by the Society of American Foresters, Oklahoma Division of the Ouachita Chapter; Oklahoma Forestry Services; Oklahoma State University, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management and the City of Ardmore.
Event sponsors include Weyerhaeuser Company, Herron Industries and Oklahoma Forestry Association.
Oklahoma Forestry Services is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. It is committed to conserving, enhancing and protecting Oklahoma’s 12.5 million acres of forests and woodlands.
More than twelve million acres, approximately 28 percent of Oklahoma’s land is forested and the forest industry contributes over $2.8 billion to the state’s economy annually.
Forests provide numerous ecological benefits such as clean air and water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and scenic beauty.
Oklahoma’s forest and woodlands are among the most diverse in the nation; ranging from the dense pine and hardwood stands of eastern Oklahoma, through the unique Cross Timbers of the central counties, to the riparian forests of our western rivers.
“Trees help improve everything from personal health and quality of living, to boosting economic growth opportunities for private homes, local business and business districts,” said Mark Bays, Urban Forestry Coordinator for Oklahoma Forestry Services.
“They help solve tough environmental problems commonly found in communities. The bottom line is healthy trees translate into healthy communities,” Bays continued. “It is important to remember that we need to continue to replace those trees that we’ve lost due to the heat, drought and fires, because of all the values and benefits that they provide for us.”
Since 1925, Oklahoma Forestry Services has worked with individuals and communities throughout the state to create resilient landscapes, fire-adaptive communities and to provide wildfire response.
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the division has regional offices in Goldsby, Broken Bow, Wilburton and Tahlequah. For more information, visit www.forestry.ok.gov or call 405-522-6158.