TRENTON –Outdoor enthusiasts, crafting devotees, and fans of all things arboreal will gather again on Saturday October 7 at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson Township, Ocean County for the 23rd Annual Fall Forestry Festival. The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine. Admission and parking are free.
“We invite all New Jerseyans to visit our Fall Forestry Festival to learn about trees and enjoy the outdoors,” said DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources Richard Boornazian. “The festival’s nature-themed activities and programs are sure to entertain and delight children and parents alike.”
“This festival is also a great time for birders, scouts, hikers, and anyone who appreciates forests and woods,” added State Forester John Sacco. “This event is here for people to gain a better understanding of New Jersey’s vast forest resource.”
Visitors will get the chance to meet beloved outdoor mascots Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, take a hayride, visit the New Jersey Tree Nursery, or join one of the many guided hikes scheduled throughout the day. Professionals in the natural resource field will also be on hand to give tips on water and soil conservation, composting, invasive insects and diseases, maple sugaring, managing your backyard forest, and more.
Children, teens, and parents alike can plant acorns, build a wooden craft, make music in “Sounds of the Forest,” and even put on a harness and climb the old white oak tree. Plans are in place for demonstrations of the center’s sawmill and the utilization of logs from storm and/or insect damaged trees from around the state to be milled into useable lumber.
On the forest safety side, fire wardens will be on hand showcasing firefighting tools and equipment, as well as demonstrating how homeowners in our wooded areas and forests can help make their property “firewise.”
“Living in our forested areas means living with the potential for wildfires impacting their homes and property,” said State Fire Warden Steve Holmes. “We will be providing information on firewise gardens, which is the practice of making smarter landscaping choices to best protect our homes from wildfires.”
In 1994, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Resource Education Center in Jackson hosted the first Fall Forestry Festival, drawing attention to the work the center does in educating the public about forest stewardship — managing New Jersey's forest resources so that we have healthy trees and forests, clean air and water, and places to learn about and enjoy the outdoors. Food and beverage will be available for purchase at the Festival. Sturdy hiking shoes and insect repellant are encouraged.
Parking is available for the festival at 370 E. Veterans Highway, Jackson. For driving directions to the Forestry Festival, call the Forest Resource Education Center (FREC) at 732-928-2360 or visit www.forestrycenter.nj.gov .
The Forest Resource Education Center (FREC), operated by the DEP's NJ Forest Service, is committed to providing exceptional conservation education programs that promote benefits of trees and forest stewardship to all age groups at no cost. It is the sole public facility in NJ focused on forestry education. Located on 875 acres, the FREC also offers miles of trails for hiking, biking, and nature watching.
The Toms River, which runs through the FREC, is regularly stocked with trout to provide an exciting fishing experience for anglers. For more information, please visit the FREC’s website at: www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/njfs_frep.html. Many programs may fulfill requirements for scouting badges. To be added to the scout mailing list, email FREC@dep.nj.gov
The New Jersey Forest Tree Nursery, co-located on the same property, grows 300,000 seedlings yearly for reforestation efforts across the state. The Nursery has grown and distributed more than 220,000 tree seedlings for the Tree Recovery Program, providing them to New Jersey residents to replace trees lost in Superstorm Sandy. It also provides trees and seedlings for Arbor Day events and also boasts seedlings that flew in space on the Shuttle Columbia in 1997.
To learn more about the New Jersey Forest Tree Nursery, please visit their website at: www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/nj_forest_nursery.htm