Wide open woods

Published 8:52 am Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mike Older of the Alabama Forestry Commission talks to students about prescribed burns.

Mike Older of the Alabama Forestry Commission talks to students about prescribed burns.

It is often said that kids these days don’t spend enough time outside. Wednesday, Red Level and W.S. Harlan students got their fair share of sunshine during the annual “Walk in the Forest” event at the Open Pond recreation area.

Sponsored by the Covington County Extension Office, Wednesday’s “walk” gave students a chance to learn about the outdoors, including the animals that live in local forests, as well as ways the forests are preserved for future generations.

County extension agent Chuck Simon said the walk is an annual event that was done a




bit differently this year.

“We moved it over to Open Pond this year,” Simon said. “We added things like the guys with the forestry commission talking to the kids about prescribed burns.”

Not only did members of the Alabama Forestry Commission talk to students about prescribed burns, they gave the kids a first-hand look at how they are created and controlled.

“It’s like cutting your lawn so


it looks fresh and clean,” Mike Older told the students. “That’s what these prescribed burns do for the forest. They allow new vegetation to grow.”

With his back to a thick layer of smoke, Older explained to students how new vegetation allows certain animals, such as the gopher tortoise, to eat more easily.

While Older taught kids how to protect the forests’ inhabitants, Jimmy Stiles and Dale Arrowood were on hand to show some of them off. Stiles gave kids a look, and feel, of reptiles and amphibians, while Arrowood taught kids about mammals and birds.

Simon said a second “Walk in the Forest” presentation will be held for local students today at Open Pond from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.