Students at Bethany College are mapping trees across the school's historic campus in advance of the arrival of one of the nation's foremost experts on old-growth forests.
So far, members of the school's Tri-Beta Club have identified about 60 noteworthy trees based on qualities such as size and species, according to Ian Nelson, an environmental science major.
"We were inspired to do something especially with the diversity of trees on campus," Nelson said.
Landmark trees will be labeled with markers that will detail the common name and scientific name for each and will include a QR code link to a website that provides more information. Other campus trees will include smaller labels, Nelson said.
The students envision a tree walk that will tie into the Bethany Trail System, which features five interconnected paths that wander over four miles into the school's Parkinson Forest, the first old-growth forest designated in the northern panhandle.
On April 20, Bethany welcomes Dr. Joan Maloof, founder of the Old-Growth Forest Network, which she designed to help preserve, protect, and promote the nation's remaining old-growth forests.
A renowned ecologist who has written four books, including “Nature’s Temples: The Complex World of Old-Growth Forests.”
In October, Bethany 's Parkinson Forest became the first site in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle to be included in the network, which now includes more than 100 forests.
Maloof will speak at 12:30 p.m. at the school's Outdoor Amphitheatre off Campus Drive near Old Main.
In September, about 170 people volunteered to clean up the Bethany Trail System that leads into the forest.
The estimated cost of the tree-mapping project is $500, and Tri-Beta is asking for help in covering the costs. Use this form to donate to the project, or mail a check to Bethany College, 31 E. Campus Drive, Bethany, WV 26032. Include "Bethany College Trails" in the memo line, or text BCTRAILS to 41444.
Founded in 1840, Bethany, at Bethany, West Virginia, is the oldest private college in West Virginia.
The Parkinson Forest at Bethany College has been added to the national Old-Growth Forest Network—the eleventh site in West Virginia to be included and the first in the state's northern panhandle. Joan Maloof, Ph.D., founder of the Old-Growth Forest Network, said the forest was ideally suited to the network. “In each county, we look for the oldest forest [that is] open to the public, is relatively accessible, and protected from logging,” Maloof said of the site. Read the full story here.