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Students respond enthusiastically to Potlatch's Classroom in the Forest.

"Wow! I've never gone to school in the woods!"

That was the response from one of the recent student visitors to Potlatch's Classroom in the Forest, located in Bradley County, south of Warren. The Classroom in the Forest is a 151-acre tract Potlatch has dedicated as a resource for educating Arkansas school children about the environment, conservation and forest management. The innovative outdoor classroom allows teachers, students, and interested community members to work with company employees and volunteers to understand the forest life cycle and study the value of forests to Arkansas' economy and environment.

Classroom in the Forest offers a unique combination of natural resources and human talent to benefit children and adults. The "classroom" offers examples of almost every kind of forest management used by Potlatch in Arkansas. There is an unharvested area with large old hardwoods, mature pines, and an under-story of small trees and shrubs. Next to the mature forest is an all-aged stand that foresters manage for a mixture of tree sizes. A small creek is protected by a streamside management zone to assure water quality. Another area in the forest has young pine trees regenerated from the larger trees left throughout the tract, also known by the technical term "shelterwood."

In 1997, a pine plantation was established to be managed as an "even-aged" stand, meaning the trees are about the same age and size. Some of the trees were planted with the help of first-graders at Warren Eastside Elementary School, forestry students from Southeast Arkansas Community Based Education Center, and members of the Warren Woman's Club.

Potlatch foresters and community volunteers have worked together to design and build a walking trail in these three areas. Signs have been placed showing the names of many trees and plants, and an amphitheater provides a place for discussions. The Classroom in the Forest continues to evolve. Beginning with a few signs in 1997, Potlatch foresters have worked with local teachers to design new classroom features.

Potlatch is a Chinook word, a dialect that is a combination of Indian and for trapper languages. It is derived from the Nootka word patshatl, which means giving. Loosely translated, potlatch has come to mean an exchange of gifts in the spirit of good fellowship. Plans are under way for 150 5th-grade students plan to hold a potlatch at the classroom where they will bring handmade gift, and learn more about Potlatch, the word and the company.

Potlatch is a diversified forest products company headquartered in Spokane Wash. In Arkansas, Potlatch manages approximately 479,000 acres certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 standards. The company operates pine lumber sawmills in Prescott and Warren, and a pulp and paperboard mill at Cypress Bend near McGehee. Cypress Bend was one of the first mills in the paperboard industry to receive ISO 9002 certification.
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Title Annotation:spreading environmental awareness among students
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 25, 2004
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