September 24th – 30th is Take a Child Outside Week and the N.C. Forest Service is encouraging adults and children to get outside and visit one of the agency’s Educational State Forests.
“Fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the cooler days and crisp air while learning about nature,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Each forest features a series of easily accessible, well-marked trails with exhibits and displays depicting the ecology of a managed forest. All the forests have a large picnic shelter that can be reserved by groups.”
The ESFs are intended for use by both organized groups and the public. Education rangers can present programs on a variety of topics to groups, including scouts, home schools, public and private schools. There is minimum of 10 students required to schedule a program.
Education rangers will strive to provide programs that meet the needs of any group. Groups with 100 or more participants are asked to spread the visit over two days to provide a better contact ratio with students. A list of programs can be found in the Teachers Guide at www.ncesf.org. There is no cost for admission or programs. Call the ranger’s office for more information.
The ESFs are open from March to November; contact individual forests for specific dates and times of operation.
- Clemmons ESF: 919-553-5651 – The first of N.C.’s Educational State Forests, Clemmons opened in 1976. Located in Johnston County between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain, Clemmons’ pine stands and hardwoods are set on a rolling terrain highlighted by streams and rock formations.
- Holmes ESF: 828-692-0100 – Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Henderson County, Holmes has rugged terrain, numerous rock outcroppings and scenic vistas. It also offers a mixture of mountain hardwoods, rhododendron, flame azaleas and a variety of wildflowers.
- Jordan Lake ESF: 919-542-1154 –Jordan Lake, in Chatham County, showcases a wide variety of pines and hardwoods found in a wetland ecosystem. Wildlife includes birds of prey, deer, songbirds, flying squirrels and beavers.
- Rendezvous ESF: 336-667-5072 – Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this forest in Wilkes County showcases magnificent mountain hardwoods in one of North Carolina’s most scenic settings. Several mountains can be seen from the forest, including Grandfather, Table Rock and Hawksbill. A natural amphitheater is available for special sessions or groups.
- Turnbull Creek ESF: 910-588-4161 – The forest is located among Bladen County’s numerous Carolina Bays, mysterious land formations unique to this area of the Coastal Plain.
- Tuttle ESF: 828-757-5608 – Located in Caldwell County, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Tuttle boasts a wide variety of pines and hardwoods, plus rolling terrain, clear streams and scenic vistas.
Take a Child Outside is a program designed to encourage children and adults to spend time together outdoors. The goal is to help children develop a better understanding and appreciation of the environment and an enthusiasm for exploring the natural world.