While hiking, hunting or enjoying an evergreen view in Douglas County, outdoor enthusiasts can appreciate the trees of Southwest Oregon by being able to identify them.

Oregon State University Extension Service of Douglas County plans to host the Native Tree Walk, a tree identification class, this month in Elkton.

“The Native Tree Walk is definitely applicable to anybody that likes to be outdoors or is curious about the place we live here in Douglas County,” said Alicia Jones, Native Tree Walk instructor and Forestry & Natural Resources Extension agent. She added the class is fun because participants have great questions about trees, their uses, where they’re found and what makes them well suited to certain places.

The class will cover 20 to 25 conifers and hardwoods primarily native to Western Oregon. The class members will meet at 10 a.m. Sept. 22 at the Elkton Community Education Center, 15850 State Highway 38 W. Elkton, before walking along a trail to learn about trees and look at samples of cones, fruit, bark and needles to be able to identify each tree. The Native Tree Walk is expected to end around 1 p.m.

Everyone who registers for the walk will get a copy of the book, “Trees to Know in Oregon.”

“It lays out tree identification and tree facts really well and provides nice photos,” Jones said of the book. “We’re working with the Elkton Community Education Center, and they are so much fun to work with, and they have the perfect facility for this type of class, so I’m excited to go back there again.” The class was also offered last year, which Jones said was a huge success.

The ECEC’s 4.5-acre botanical garden exemplifies seven climate zones of Oregon and trees that are usually found in the region.

OSU Extension is also planning to host an eight-part series to help residents protect their homes from wildfire.

The Citizen Fire Academy will run from Sept. 28 to Nov. 9, and the deadline to register is this Friday, Sept. 15.

“That class is really cool and totally applicable to residents in Douglas County and Southwest Oregon in general, covering topics in fire science, how to live within a fire-prone environment and fire protection strategies for homes and properties,” Jones said.

Half of the class is online and half will be in person.

During the first field trip Oct. 21, the class will visit the old burn site of the 2014 Douglas Complex fires and will learn how the fire progressed, what impacts it had and how the area recovered.

“Unfortunately the Horse Prairie Fire will be visible from that same area, so we may end up stopping and talking about that one. It’s very relevant to everyone’s minds right now,” Jones said.

The other field trip, on Nov. 4, will focus on how to develop a fire-wise community, how neighborhoods can work together and how to receive funding for fuel-reduction projects for communities. Participants will get a chance to hear from residents who evacuated their homes during the Stouts Creek Fire in 2015.

“It’s a great time of year to take this class as we’re going into the fall,” Jones said. As people prune and thin vegetation, clear brush and clean their gutters in preparation for the winter, they’re simultaneously preparing their home for the following year’s fire season.

The cost of the Native Tree Walk class is $25 per household and the cost of the Citizen Fire Academy is $50 per person or $75 per couple sharing materials. Registration is required for the Citizen Fire Academy.

Participants can register for both classes at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/douglas/classes-events, or by emailing douglas.extension@oregonstate.edu or calling 541-672-4461.

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Outdoors and Natural Resources Reporter

Emily Hoard is the business, outdoors and natural resources reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4217 or by email at ehoard@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoard_emily.

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