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Pine Mountain Chapter Inventories Trees for CSU's Environmental Learning Center at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Park

On April 16, 2009, five members of the Pine Mountain Chapter, SAF, met at the Environmental Learning Center at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Park in south Columbus, GA. The Center is planning new public programs on the plants and animals found in the bottomlands along the Chattahoochee River at the "fall line" (where the piedmont meets the coastal plain). They plan to continue with their popular school programs.

The new director, Heidi Hughes, asked the Chapter for help with identifying and measuring the trees in front of the Center. CSU staff will use the data when they design their new native species arboretum.

Five members of the Pine Mountain Chapter members offered to help and donated their time and services. Steve Smith (Georgia Forestry Commission) identified the trees. Chapter Chair John Merrill (Georgia Forestry Commission) helped measure and record heights with Glynn Chesser ( MeadWestvaco - retired), who operated the altimeter. Gordon Moss (Plum Creek Timber Company) took GPS points. Chapter Secretary Bill Consoletti ( MeadWestvaco) took the dbh and recorded information along with James Tucker, the CSU ornithologist who measured dbh and placed flagging with inventory numbers on the trees. We identified 92 trees of 15 species.

CSU plans to use the inventory data and digital images of each tree in a "know your trees" computer application for the iPod. Visitors will be able to download the application from the Center's website or rent an iPod already loaded with the software. Here's how it works: as they approach a tree, the GPS data will pop open a photo file and text as well as audio with information about the tree and how to identify it - using the information collected by the Pine Mountain Chapter.

This is an exciting idea that should connect with computer savvy visitors. The Pine Mountain Chapter expects this partnership with Columbus State University will lead to additional forestry-related projects in the future.

Following the tree inventory, CSU staff took Chapter members on a tour of the nature trail behind the Center. After dinner, Hughes presented a program explaining the new direction CSU is taking with the Environmental Learning Center — using the charisma of birds to inspire a new generation of citizen scientists.

The Society of American Foresters (SAF) is the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. Founded in 1900 by Gifford Pinchot, it is the largest professional society for foresters in the world. The mission of the Society of American Foresters is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and, to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.