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Long Hunter State Park sets Earth Day Festival

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Make plans now to visit Long Hunter State Park for a weekend of nature programs, guided hikes, guest speakers, exhibits, crafts for kids, live music and the grand opening of the Couchville Lake Arboretum during the Earth Day Festival to be held Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26.

All programs are free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary. Booths open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. The event is sponsored by The Friends of Long Hunter State Park.

Program schedule for Saturday, April 25 (times & programs subject to change):

7:30 a.m. - Bird Walk - Does the early bird always get the worm? Find out while taking a walk with Richard Connors, president of the Tennessee Ornithological Society, to look/listen for spring migrants and resident birds. Bring binoculars if you have them; good binoculars are essential for getting the most from bird watching. Meet outside Visitor Center.

8 a.m. - Morning Pooch Hike with Team Green - Join Team Green for a casual early morning hike on the Volunteer Trail with your favorite furry four-legged family member. Everyone will hike approximately 5 miles. A reminder: All dogs must be on a leash. Meet at Volunteer Trail parking lot.

9 a.m. - Feeding Wild Birds - What do birds like to eat? And what kind of feeders do they prefer? Learn all this and more as Long Hunter Seasonal Interpretive Ranger Tyler Blystone explains how to attract a wide variety of birds to your yard. Meet in audio/visual room at Visitor Center.

10 a.m. - Wild Edible Plants - Mmm, prickly pear jelly. Yum, persimmon cake. Is your mouth watering yet? Sample some foods from the forest and learn about edible plants with naturalist/author/wild foods expert Sharen Bracy. Meet at boathouse in Area 2.

10 a.m. - noon (ongoing) - The Nature Circle: Kids Craft Canoe - Paddle up to the big blue canoe and make your very own nature craft to take home with you! All ages are welcome and participation is free. Presented by Miss Liana and the Friends of Long Hunter. Located next to the Friends of Long Hunter booth in Area 2.

10 a.m. - Hit The Trail With Nashville Hiking Meetup - Learn about the Nashville Hiking Meetup group, a local hiking and eco-volunteer club, and then take a hike with them on the Bryant Grove Trail, which winds along the shoreline of Percy Priest Lake. Keep an eye out for shorebirds, deer and spring wildflowers. Meet at Bryant Grove Trail trailhead in Area 2.

11 a.m. - Wings & Wonder: The Butterflies of Couchville Glade - Meet up with naturalist Rita Venable and mosey along the 1-mile, flat 'n’ easy Tyler Alley Sykes Trail through the cedar glade, where you will be observing and identifying butterflies along the way. Bring water and wear comfortable walking shoes. Also bring a binocular and field guide (Glassberg or Brock/Kaufman are good) if you have one. Please, no nets. Meet at Couchville Cedar Glade parking lot.

1 p.m. - Couchville Lake Arboretum Ribbon Cutting - Join the Friends of Long Hunter State Park & some very special guests to help celebrate the grand opening of the first state-certified arboretum in Tennessee State Parks: the Couchville Lake Arboretum. Arboretum brochures will be available on site and at the Visitor Center. Meet in front of Couchville Lake in Area 2.

1:30 p.m. - Couchville Lake Arboretum Tree Tour - Be among the first to experience the new Couchville Lake Arboretum as we take a leisurely stroll around the lake trail with Blystone and naturalist Jason Allen. Discover what trees are found at Long Hunter and learn about their many uses & benefits, as well as how to identify them. Meet in front of Couchville Lake in Area 2.

2 p.m. - Clear and Present Dangers To Tennessee's Forests - Join Clint Strohmeier, forest health specialist with the Tennessee Department of Forestry, for this special program about the major health challenges facing our forests and how they are being met. The presentation will conclude with a brief foray outside to search for some of the invasive species that are threatening the state. Meet in audio/visual room at Visitor Center.

2 - 4 p.m. (ongoing) - The Nature Circle: Kids Craft Canoe - Paddle up to the big blue canoe and make your very own nature craft to take home with you! All ages are welcome and participation is free. Presented by Miss Liana and the Friends of Long Hunter. Located next to the Friends of Long Hunter booth in Area 2.

3 p.m. - Spring Wildflower Hike - Join State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath on the Tyler Alley Sykes Trail for a walk through one of the most unique and interesting natural habitats in Tennessee: the cedar glade. Long Hunter's Couchville Cedar Glade area is home to the federally protected Tennessee Coneflower. Meet at Couchville Cedar Glade parking lot.

4 p.m. - I Love Snakes!!! - Come meet herpetologist Lisa Powers and some of the reptilian inhabitants of Froghaven Farm. Powers will talk about the many ways in which reptiles are beneficial and why you shouldn't harm them. Maybe you will discover that you love snakes, too! Meet in audio/visual room at Visitor Center.

5 p.m. - Woodland Hike - Join Blystone and Allen for a leisurely nature hike on the one-mile Inland Trail to discover the impressive variety of flora and fauna that Long Hunter has to offer. Meet at Area 4 parking lot.

7 p.m. - Frogs of Tennessee - Come find out about the fabulous frogs that call Tennessee home with Powers from Froghaven Farm. Can you name all 21 species? Have fun trying to imitate their calls, and then join Powers and Ranger Blystone for a frog walk down by the lake. Meet in audio/visual room at Visitor Center. Program schedule for Sunday,

April 26 (times and programs subject to change):

7 a.m. - Early Bird Canoe Float - Enjoy the serenity of Couchville Lake in the morning hours when wildlife and birds are most active. You will be on the water for approximately one hour. Equipment will be provided. Space is limited and sign-ups begin at 7 a.m. Meet at boathouse in Area 2.

9 a.m. - Mammals of Tennessee - Did you know that Tennessee is home to more htan 70 species of mammals? Join Blystone to learn about the mammals found at Long Hunter and how they all play an important role in the ecosystem. Meet in audio/visual room at Visitor Center.

10 a.m. - Rock and Ride with Team Green - Hit the trails with the Team Green gang at Long Hunter's new Jones Mill Mountain Bike Trail. This beginner/intermediate ride will last approximately two hours. Bring your own bike. Meet at Jones Mill Trail parking lot. 10 a.m. - noon (ongoing) - The Nature Circle: Kids Craft Canoe - Paddle up to the big blue canoe and make your very own nature craft to take home with you! All ages are welcome and participation is free. Presented by Miss Liana and the Friends of Long Hunter. Located next to the Friends of Long Hunter booth in Area 2.

11 a.m. - Dragonflies & Damselflies - Join Tennessee State Parks Assistant Biologist Richard Connors for a brief introduction to Tennessee dragonflies and damselflies, and then carpool to Couchville Lake for a dragonfly/damselfly walk. Bring binoculars (close-focus type if you have them). Meet in audio/visual room at Visitor Center.

1 p.m. - Volunteer Trail Nature Hike - Let's go for a hike with Hedgepath along the Volunteer Trail and Day Loop, where you will be treated to scenic overlooks, interesting forest and colorful wildflowers. This will be a 4-mile walk done at a leisurely pace. Meet at Volunteer Trail parking lot.

2 - 4 p.m. (ongoing) - The Nature Circle: Kids Craft Canoe - Paddle up to the big blue canoe and make your very own nature craft to take home with you! All ages are welcome and participation is free. Presented by Miss Liana and the Friends of Long Hunter. Located next to the Friends of Long Hunter booth in Area 2.

2 p.m. - Moths & Butterflies of Middle Tennessee - Join Middle Tennessee Regional Naturalist John Froeschauer for an easy walk around the Visitor Center to find and identify moths, butterflies and other insects. In the event of inclement weather, a slide show on lepidoptera ecology and gardens will be presented. Meet outside Visitor Center.

3 p.m. - SoundForest.org Tree Planting - Learn about the importance of planting trees in your community in this special presentation by Sound-Forest Executive Director Thomas Solinsky. This program will feature a demonstration on how to plant a tree. Meet at Area 2 picnic shelter.

4 p.m. - Edible Plants Hike - Believe it or not, the woods of Long Hunter -- and perhaps even your own back yard -- are full of many tasty treats! Join Bracy as she takes you for a walk to look for edible plants in the Couchville Lake area. Meet at boathouse in Area 2.

5 p.m. - Geology & Ecology of the Cedar Glades - Meet up with Blystone for this 1-mile walk and discuss the geology and ecology of one of North America's most unique ecosystems. Meet at Couchville Cedar Glade parking lot.

7 p.m. - Whippoorwill Night Hike at Couchville Glade - Cap off the festival with a relaxing sunset stroll in the cedar glade. Blystone and Allen will lead you on a short hike to listen for whippoorwills, frogs, nighthawks, and other elusive residents of the cedar glade. Meet at Couchville Cedar Glade parking lot.

Organizations scheduled to participate and/or set up booths during the festival include Friends of Long Hunter State Park, The Nature Circle, Froghaven Farm, Nashville Hiking Meetup, SoundForest, Mt. Juliet Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Tennessee Ornithological Society, Team Green, Sharen Bracy’s Wild Edibles, North American Butterfly Association, Hands On Nashville, Stones River Watershed Association, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Tennessee State Parks.

For directions to program sites, or for more information, call the park office at 885-2422. Long Hunter State Park is at 2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, just across the Wilson County line.

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