Thu, June 29th, 2017

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Princeton School Forest…WAY more than just trees! 

  

The theme for this year's High School Conference on the Environment, held at UW- Stevens Point, was "Our Changing Forests".  Schools from around Wisconsin were asked to present examples of the opportunities that their forest offered them.  Six students in Mr. Waters' Environmental Science course showed other Wisconsin schools what their school forest has to offer the Princeton community.  The students, led by their teacher, Joe Waters, collaborated and constructed a display presenting all of the educational opportunities their school forest has given them in a format that showed past, present, and future opportunities of the historical school property.  In its 50+ year history, the school forest, originally a local farm with over 240 acres of land, was deeded to the school explicitly for educational and recreational purposes.  Many Princeton residents remember venturing out to the property during school days to improve the environment by planting various red and white pines in many areas during the 1950's and 60's.  That was the start of what the school forest had to offer.  Since then, many improvements and activities have taken place.  From the late 1990's through present day the forest has and is still changing in many quality educational and recreational ways.  In 1996 students built a cabin from the logs of trees planted by the very same youngsters who ventured out there in the sixties to plant trees!  The improvements did not stop there.  Many students have improved the property year after year during science classes and various service learning projects.  Projects included construction of a large group fire pit, dredging and expansion of the pond, erection of a windmill for pond aeration, fish stocking, expansion and updating of trails, and many other activities that are listed below!  We are currently undertaking the thinning and selective cutting of fifty year old pines and many old or stunted white and red oak trees as well.  These improvements to our forest will only result in better habitats for animals, more food base, and definitely more biodiversity in our forest of the future.  Besides educational opportunities, the school forest has been a quality hunting area open to any school district resident who purchased one of the limited hunting permits allowed yearly.  The forest we have is so much more than simply trees and we celebrate all it has to offer us!  Students were very excited to present their forest and look forward to next year's conference! See a list of all of the past, present, and future activities that our school district forests have below: 

 

Past and Present items:

Cabin Built(1996)

School Forest Education Plan(certified in 2006)

School Forest Management Plan(2008)

Selective Tree Harvests and Managed plots for future growth(1997-98 and 2009-10)

Pond Dredged, Aerated w/Windmill, stocked with fish, catch and release fishing

Creating dens for animals with cut brush from selective cuttings

Lumber Harvested for Tech. Ed. Classes for projects(2008-present)

Shelter for drying wood at forest, solar kiln for final drying at school

Forestry Education Classes

DNR Specialist visits(Foresters, Wildlife Biologists)

Trails marked, mapped, signage put up

Large Class sized fire pit/discussion area

Map of Forest developed

Cabin updating(staining, improvements)

Environmental Science courses visit

6-8 grade classes Field Day

Hunting Permits

Hunting Seasons

Haunted Walk(2007-present)

Possible Future Items:

Cabin transformed into a year round classroom

Improved hunting habitat

Soil/Water/Air testing activities

Ropes course/challenge course

GIS Plant-Animal monitoring, Landscape data collection

Invasive species protection/education

Fitness Trail

Physical Education classes use w/ snowshoes, cross-country skis

Increased community usage