Sunday, January 26, 2014

Outdoor Playpen

Three Parks where Nature Rules

Executive summary by darmansjah

Muir Woods, Giant Among Us

John Muir Called the Marin County woods “the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.” Located only 11 miles north of the golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument puts some of nature’s most colossal creation within reach of little feet, hands, and imaginations.

“Muir Woods is home to a grove of giant redwood trees that reach to the sky and surround you in a away that is best experienced in person,” says David Shaw of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. “Redwoods are among the tallest species in the world. The average age of the redwoods here ranges from 400 to 600 years old, and many ancient specimens have been around for more than a millennium.

Although the towering, ancient trees will make kids feel extra small, learning the story of who protected the woods can help children stand a little taller.

William Kent, the man who donated the 295 acres to create the Muir Woods monument on some of the most valued real estate in the world, grew up in Marin and played in similar redwood groves. That childhood experience inspired him to save the redwoods as an adult.

“Young people can learn about young William Kent when they visit here,” says interpretative ranger Timothy Jordan. “Kent’s early connection with nature fostered his love of the outdoors. As an adult, he witnessed the destruction of many Bay Area redwood forests. This, with the writings of John Muir, inspired Kent’s conservationism.” Walking (and playing) in, on, and around the redwoods will help kids understand why young Kent was so mesmerized by the trees.

 Ranger Jordan encourages children to lie down and look up at the treetops, hug a redwood tree, touch the bark, and start a nature journal as Muir did. “Have kids find a redwood spray the same age as them; count the rings in trees and learn how to measure a tree,” he advises.

After all the interaction, the kids just may be ready to rest – at least for a moment. Take this time to “be quiet and listen to the sounds of the forest,” says Shaw.

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