Shawnee News Star Sunday     May 7th 2017 Becky Emerson Carlberg Oklahoma Master Naturalists (OMN) host workshops through the year. The end of April our Urban Workshop about city trees and wildlife was held at Arcadia Lake.   Located in northeast Oklahoma County, Arcadia Lake is a manmade 1800 acre body of water that started life as [...]

Shawnee News Star Sunday     May 7th 2017

Moon rise over winter woods

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Oklahoma Master Naturalists (OMN) host workshops through the year. The end of April our Urban Workshop about city trees and wildlife was held at Arcadia Lake.   Located in northeast Oklahoma County, Arcadia Lake is a manmade 1800 acre body of water that started life as an earthen dam on the Deep Fork River in 1980.   The city of Edmond and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the lake in 1984 to combat flooding, provide a water source for Edmond and offer recreational opportunities.

The 720 acre Conservation Education Area is managed by the OK Dept. of Wildlife Conservation.   From mid-January to the end of September, one can take a self-guided walk along the three quarters mile trail.   The 7,000 square foot Outdoor Education and Training Center overlooks Arcadia Lake from the south and offers the perfect venue for wildlife classes.   Large windows surround three sides.   The concrete floor has a map of Oklahoma with its ecological regions stained in different colors.   The walls have taxidermy specimens of antelope and deer heads, one bison noggin, and the three subspecies of wild Oklahoma turkeys:   (Merriams' are found in the OK Panhandle, the long-legged Rio Grande prefer the Central OK, and the Eastern with white edged tail feathers   lives guess where?   A vivid blue headed turkey was trying to fit in.   A former resident of Central America, this beautiful bird was much smaller. It is known as an ocellated turkey.   The tail feathers seem to have eyes. Various stuffed birds and waterfowl were flying or perched on window ledges, preserved raccoons peeked around corners and a ten foot alligator was on the floor. It looked so lifelike. Nature inside and out.

Our morning presenter was Mark Bays.   The coordinator for Urban and Community Forestry Services in Oklahoma discussed how our earth developed, what may happen to the continents in the future, and how the trees came to be.   Thank lignin, a rigid and rot resistant component in plant cells. As trees were coming on the scene, the decay organisms were not as plentiful.   Plants collapsed, accumulated, piled up, became compacted and, voila, the gas, oil and coal companies rolled into Oklahoma.   Okay, it took millions of years before the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 commercial well was dug in Bartlesville, Oklahoma April 15th 1897.   Let's consider trees currently alive.

We are being watched

There are communities that actively protect their trees.   The city planners know how long it takes for trees to grow to size and place great value on their existing trees.   This certainly was not apparent to the planners who destroyed the plot across the street from the Pottawatomie County OSU Extension.   The stand of trees was wiped out in a few days and the land surveyed for future development.  The last tree cut was the one all the workers parked their trucks under during the heat of the day.   It had a magnificent spreading canopy and was probably over 100 years old.   Did whoever that chain-sawed the life-giving plant even give it a moment's thought they were doing something terribly wrong, or at least question why that tree was not saved?  Those guys will be long dead before another tree planted now anywhere in the general vicinity will become that age and size.

When you think of live oaks, does your mind take you to a southern plantation with large old oak trees covered in Spanish moss?   Mine does. There are, though, two species of live oaks: the Southern live oak at the plantation, Quercus virginiana, and the Texas live oak, Q. fusiformis.  The Southern live oak is strictly a coastal species that hugs the Atlantic Ocean from VA to TX.   The tree may reach 40 to 80 feet in height.

My great aunt Inez lived in Rockport, TX, home of one of the largest Southern live oaks   in the US.   Yes, of course it is in Texas.   Its age is estimated to be between 1,000 to 2,000 years old!     The other live oak species, the Texas live oak,   is much tougher and can be found all over Fort Worth and Dallas area.   This scrub live oak only gets 20 to 40 feet tall. The native range extends from the Quartz and Wichita Mts. in SW OK through TX into MX.   I love abbreviations. and oaks.

Twenty-six species of oaks live in Oklahoma.   The 'Creek Council Tree' grows on a hill overlooking the Arkansas River in Tulsa.   This was a mature oak tree in 1836 when the Creek Lochapoka clan arrived and chose the site for their council ground.   Opinions vary whether it is a post oak or bur oak; oaks are notorious for hybridizing.   The 'Creek Hanging Tree' in downtown Tulsa is a bur oak and is estimated to be over 200 years old.

Pine (Loblolly prefer damp soils), hickory, pecan, and Eastern red cedar are other familiar trees.   The demonized red cedar (a true Juniper), is native to all counties except the Panhandle.   The oldest red cedar in OK is over 620 years old. In a vintage picture of the 1889 Land Run, there stands the lone capitol building by itself surrounded by deep mud.   To the left of the capitol stands the one and only tree a red cedar.   True.

Lake Arcadia Education Center

The Story of TREES. Pick out one tree in your yard.   Your tree is a word.   Combined with your neighbor's trees you have a sentence.   Include the streets in your group, you have a paragraph.   Bring in your entire city with all its trees and you have a novel or story.   There are 19,637 park trees in OKC.   Trees add value.   The annual ecological benefit (water, energy, air, temperature) of OKC parks amounts to $808,728.71.   Trees are investments that grow through time.   If building a house or structure, the value increases 18% if the mature trees have not been cut down, lots that border woods increase 35%, and wooded lots 37% higher.   Check:   www.naturewithin.info.

TREES ARE NECESSITIES NOT NICETIES

Trees improve air quality.   Leaves provide more surface area to catch dust, reduce surface level ozone in parking lots and improve health.   After Emerald Ash Borer beetles decimated the ash tree lined street, the next few years cardio and respiratory diseases increased.Trees reduce storm water runoff.   Tree canopies temporarily detain rainfall before the water flows down the stems and branches and goes into through fall to the ground.Trees stabilize soils.   They increase infiltration and percolation of water.   The trees add humidity through transpiration (moisture travels from the roots to the leaves and vaporizes); a self-contained hydrologic cyclic.   Severe erosion can be limited by the presence of plant roots; steeply eroded river banks can be sloped and held in place by rocks and native plants.Trees reduce energy.   The urban heat island effect raises temps 7 to 15 degrees.   Shade is good.   Parking lots need to be designed with porous permeable paving surfaces, green spaces and Bioswales (areas of plants that filter runoff water.) Green roofs insulate, slow down runoff and mitigate the heat island effect.Trees add quality to living.   Can't spell street without tree.   Kathleen Wolf PhD intricately links nature with the workplace. 'Human communities need nature in and around them to thrive.'   She calls it A.R.T. or Attention Restoration Theory.   Even having a view of nature from a work cubicle is effective..   Shinrin-Yoku is Japanese for 'Forest Bathing.'   Being in a forest provides a multitude of health benefits.   If in OKC, visit Myriad Gardens with its 'Great Lawn.'

Want to be healthier.   Think trees.   Look at www.nature-rx.org.