The major disruptions to our normal routines have left many of us feeling a bit lost and uneasy. With no end in sight, our morale may be waning and our eyes weary from all the electronic “screen-ery.” The Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District suggests making the most of these unusual moments by finding some time to be among the trees!
As a season of growth and renewal, springtime in Northeast Ohio offers the perfect backdrop to button up, unplug, and head out on a tree treasure hunt! Whether you step out your back door or take a short drive to a nearby park, you don’t have to go far to find trees throughout our abundantly-forested landscapes. Mounting research has shown that spending time with trees significantly improves our mental health, boosts our immunity, adds physical activity, and overall soothes our social well-being. In this time of turmoil, trees can help us feel less stressed and more restored.
Whether a solo adventure or family expedition, a tree treasure hunt is both challenging and rewarding! The goal is to investigate, identifying, and inventory trees. Your own yard is an optimal location to start, but regardless of where your hunting begins, there are plenty of free resources that can assist you. Several tree identification mobile apps, such as Leafsnap and THE SEEK app by iNaturalist, can be downloaded to your phone for free. There are also free tree guides you can find online including Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Trees of Ohio guide, Ohio Division of Forestry’s Index of Ohio Tree, and The Arbor Day Foundation’s What Tree is That? Pocket Field Guide, to name a few. There are also numerous and plentiful classic tree identification field guides. If you are interested in expanding the educational experience, Project Learning Tree offers a free and fun curriculum, Teaching with i-Tree, which includes many hands-on middle and high school lessons. Using the guide and related activities, students investigate, identify, and calculate tree benefits with i-Tree Design software developed by the U.S. Forest Service and its partners.
While you are on your tree treasure hunt, you can also help Geauga SWCD locate Geauga County’s biggest Black Walnut Tree! The Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is the featured tree of the 2020 Geauga County BIG TREE Contest, which promotes the beauty and benefits provided by our county’s biggest and oldest trees. Known as one of America’s most treasured trees, Black Walnuts are prized for their valuable, rich wood and delicious nuts. Trees are nominated and receive a score based on trunk circumference, crown spread, and total height to determine the winner. For more information, rules of the contest, and instructions on how to nominate your tree, visit geaugaswcd.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 440-834-1122 and leave a message.
Though it’s hard to say what will come our way in May, let Geauga SWCD help you branch out and turn idle time into tree-mendous adventures!