Forester guides Oklahomans through Ancient Woodlands
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Published: 22-Oct-2014

Oklahoma Forestry Services invited avid hikers, casual walkers, nature lovers, families with strollers and seniors to take a walk in the beautiful Keystone Ancient Forest, near Sand Springs, last weekend. Foresters and natural resource professionals from multiple organizations greeted some 225 visitors to a densely forested area near Sand springs on Saturday, October 18. Foresters led the walk and shared information about the woods and trees, and how foresters work to keep woodlands healthy and thriving.

“It was a great day. We encourged people to bring your family and friends and join us in the forest,” said Erin Johnson, Staff Forester, Oklahoma Forestry Services and Chair, Oklahoma Division, Society of American Foresters. “Participants learned about forests and their importance to people for our health, the environment and the economy.”

Johnson, a graduate of Bishop John Carroll Elementary, McGuinness Catholic High and Oklahoma State University, was raised in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Oklahoma City as part of an active scouting and camping family. She was one of three primary authors for the 2010 assessment of the state's forest resources.

For the walk through the woods laced with cross-timber varieties, hikers were asked to dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy, comfortable shoes, and to bring along sunscreen and bug spray. The walk took about 90 minutes, including stops at each educational station. Each hiker received a free water bottle, water and snacks. A special station for kids offered fun, hands-on Project Learning Tree activities and giveaways.

Oklahoma has the nation's largest remaining tracts of the ancient “cross-timbers” which once covered much of what is now eastern Oklahoma, southern Missouri, western Arkansas and corners of Louisiana.

“The Walk in the Forest” program was part of a national campaign coordinated by the Society of American Foresters and the American Forest Foundation. It was hosted by the Oklahoma Division of the Ouachita Society of American Foresters, in partnership with Oklahoma Forestry Services; OSY – NREM; OSU Student SAF Chapter and the City of Sand Springs Parks and Recreation Department. Visit www.forestry.ok.gov for information on Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry – committed to conserving, enhancing and protecting Oklahoma’s forest resources for present and future generations.

The Society of American Foresters is the scientific and educational association representing nearly 17,000 professional foresters and natural resource professionals in the United States. 

The society’s primary objective is to advance the science, technology, education, and practice of professional forestry for the benefit of all. The state Division has about 75 members, but across Oklahoma there are more than 200 professional foresters. Many are employed by Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry; Oklahoma State University, the forest industry, the US Forest Service or are private consulting foresters. 

To find out more go to www.safnet.org.  

About the American Forest Foundation: AFF works to keep forests healthy and our children well-prepared for the future. AFF’s sustainable woodland system, the American Tree Farm System®, helps family forest owners manage more than 26 million acres of forest land. AFF’s Project Learning Tree® program works with tens of thousands of teachers each year, giving them a peer-reviewed, award-winning environmental education curriculum that opens a door to America’s outdoor heritage and has reached more than 75 million students. AFF works with international, national, state, and local partners. In Oklahoma, PLT is sponsored by Oklahoma Forestry Services and the Oklahoma Forestry Association. More information is available at www.forestfoundation.org.

NOTE: Pat McGuigan contributed to this report. He is Erin Johnson's father. 

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