Everyone is telling us to “get some fresh air.” But how do you do that when you’re also being told to socially distance?
The Pinellas County Extension Service recommends a walk in the park to learn the “value” of trees. They set up a scavenger hunt-style Traveling Tree Walk in Brooker Creek Preserve.
“We so often just go about our day walking right by trees without realizing, recognizing or appreciating all that trees do for us,” Lara Milligan, natural resources agent for the extension service, said.
The walk translates the environmental benefits of a tree into dollar amounts. To start the walk, pick up a brochure of scavenger hunt questions, located outside the Environmental Education Center at the Tarpon Springs park, or download it from the preserve’s Facebook page. Then, look for trees marked with price tag signs.
“We can relate to the concept of money much better than we can to the concept of ecosystem services,” Milligan said.
One example: A live oak tree prevents soil erosion ($108.62), reduces energy cost ($38.18), improves air quality ($5.13), increases property value ($63.34) and reduces carbon dioxide ($7.57). That’s a total of $222.84 per year, and an estimated total ecological value of $55,710 over the tree’s lifetime. One tree of each variety is marked with a tag. Information from these tags answers questions on the scavenger hunt.
"This is an opportunity to connect to nature and get outside as a family,” Milligan said.
She hopes it will teach people not to take trees for granted and that families will learn to appreciate all that trees do for us.
The Traveling Tree Walk has been set up at various parks and preserves throughout Pinellas County since 2015 (hence the “traveling” in the title). Milligan said this is the first time it has been set up as a scavenger hunt for the public.
If you go
Brooker Creek Preserve is at 3940 Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. You can also find the scavenger hunt questions at facebook.com/BrookerCreekPreserve. The park is open and admission is free. (727) 453-6800.