Saturday, November 6, 2010

Carkeek's Master Forester Program, by Lex Voorhoeve

On November 6th, 2010, thirty volunteers worked at the South entrance of Carkeek Park, fighting invasive, non-native blackberries and replacing them with new native plants.  Such an event would be impossible were it not for the experience of five lead graduates from the Carkeek Park Master Foresters classes.  (There would have been seven leads but two were directing another work party.) 

Three of such Master Forester classes were offered, in 2005, 2007 and 2009.  Each class stretched out over eleven Saturdays between June and February, so that all seasons were covered. Each class lasted from 8.30 - 12.00, with about 40% of the time indoors and 60% of the time out in the field - a real "hands on" curriculum.  

In addition, students were assigned a project area, for which they had to make an assessment: What vegetation is there, what native plants are there, what invasive plants are there?  What needs to be done with the vegetation? Is planting needed?  How many of which species need to be ordered?  All in all a rather involved project. 

Unique to these classes was that they often attract new people, without much volunteer experience.  And many, as said in the beginning, become leaders of work parties, sometimes for special days like today (November 6, 2010) or during the regular monthly STARS work parties. (STARS is an acronym for "Streams, Trails, and Restoration Stewards.")

And some start new activities, like the two Master Foresters that initiated a Golden Gardens volunteer group. Continuation of these once-every-two-years classes is vital for keeping volunteer input in Carkeek Park - and elsewhere - alive.

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