Grant supports ‘Children’s Forest’
A grant to the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit will help develop a “Children’s Forest” for exploration and education in the Pope-Baldwin Recreation Area, off Highway 89 North, near South Lake Tahoe.
A national initiative of the U.S. Forest Service, Children’s Forests are centered around developed outdoor spaces on national or state forests, in urban parks or at schools. The core mission of a children’s forest is to get young people to take a leadership role in forest management by giving them a voice in caring for the land, according to a press release from the USFS. The LTBMU will partner with the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, the Tahoe Heritage Foundation, and the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada to establish a place local youth can understand in depth, from cultural history to current land management.
The Tallac Historic Site and the Taylor Creek Visitor Center will serve as the centerpiece of the Pope-Baldwin Children’s Forest. One project funded by the grant will help expand the Washoe Tending and Gathering Garden, providing support for tribal youth and elders to plant locally collected seeds, cuttings and transplants of species of cultural significance. Once complete, the garden will provide an opportunity for students to learn about cultural history and native plant species, through a curriculum for third- and fifth-grade students developed in partnership with the Washoe Tribe.
The second project will expand existing conservation education programs targeting third- through fifth-grade students. For instance, among the old-growth trees and early settlement buildings of the Tallac Historic Site, fourth-grade students will learn about forest ecology and land management. Fifth-grade students will learn about watershed restoration, hazardous fuels reduction, and human impacts on the environment through hands-on participation in projects underway to manage the area.
“The Pope-Baldwin Recreation Area draws visitors from around the country and even the world, so we’re delighted that it will now provide the setting to teach our local students about the challenges and rewards of managing our public lands,” LTBMU forest supervisor Nancy Gibson said in the release. “We’re looking forward to working with the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, the Tahoe Heritage Foundation, and the Washoe Tribe to create a Children’s Forest that will spark a lifelong interest in America’s great outdoors.”
The Native Species Festival on June 3 will mark the kick-off for the Children’s Forest, with 800 visitors expected to attend. The LTBMU expects to serve about 1,700 additional students through school programs this spring and next fall, as well as through summer interpretive programs.
The LTBMU received about $40,000 for the project. The total project cost is about $90,000, which includes in-kind contributions from the LTBMU, STEEC and the Tahoe Heritage Foundation.