Conecuh festival set for April 24-25

Published 9:25 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fresh Air Family will be returning to the Conecuh National Forest April 24-25 for the annual Conecuh Longleaf Festival. This event brings together naturalists with expertise ranging from longleaf pines to the rare plants and animals living in this wonderland.

The U.S. Forest Service will guide families through an adventure discovering the Conecuh National Forest, the largest remaining stand of longleaf pine, once the world’s largest ecosystems. Roger Reid, producer of Alabama Public Television’s “Discovering Alabama” series will be on hand to discuss his novel, Longleaf.

The program will begin at 7 p.m. on Fri., April 24, at the Conecuh Campground. Camping will be provided Friday and Saturday night along with meals. Tents and equipment can be provided, but bring sleeping bags.

On Sat., April 25, from 9 a.m. until noon at Open Pond Pavilion, the U.S. Forest Service will be on hand to lead a five-part outdoor program educating participants about trees, wildlife, plants, the history of the Conecuh and fire in the Conecuh.

Reid will discuss his young adult novel, Longleaf. After lunch, the group will make its way to visit the pitcher plant bogs. The bogs are home to five of the eight species of these rare and endangered carnivorous plants that inhabit the southeastern United States. Saturday evening will be wrapped up with a night of storytelling under the stars.

The day program on Saturday is free, but a $50 fee per family is required for camping reservations. The fee includes tents and meals. Deposits can be mailed to Fresh Air Family, Inc., at P.O. Box 321038, Birmingham, AL 35232. The deposit is due by Wed., April 22. To register, please e-mail or call 205-401- 0245.

Fresh Air Family, Inc., is a grassroots, kid-driven organization dedicated to environmental and scientific education, youth leadership, outdoor exploration, healthful lifestyles and healthy families, and an appreciation of the beautiful and biologically diverse state of Alabama. It is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to teach that every living thing deserves respect; to connect with nature; to build families and future leaders; and to build pride in Alabama and our natural wealth.

Fresh Air Family was founded in 2006 by Verna Gates, long-time president of the Birmingham Wildflower Society. Fresh Air Family takes a diversity of families to explore nature all across the state. Membership and most of the adventures are free.

Fresh Air Family is wholly supported by the generous donations of sponsors, corporations and individuals.

For more information, contact Verna Gates, executive director of Fresh Air Family at 205-595-4346, or Misty Cuthbert, communications director of Fresh Air Family, at 205-243-6345.