A world-of-fun Earth Day event | Kitsap Week

Trillium in bloom at the Rhododendron Preserve.   - Katha Miller-Winder
Trillium in bloom at the Rhododendron Preserve.
— image credit: Katha Miller-Winder

Tree huggers may have a hard time wrapping their arms around “Big Tree” at the Earth Day celebration on Saturday.

With a circumference of  more than 33 feet, the aptly named tree is considered one of the world’s largest Douglas firs. Experts believe it is over 800 years old, dating back to the Magna Carta.

Along with Big Tree, Orion the Great Horned Owl from West Sound Wildlife Shelter will be on hand to celebrate our planet at The Mountaineers’ first Earth Day Celebration in Kitsap.

The event takes place at the 460-acre Rhododendron Preserve in Central Kitsap, one of Puget Sound’s last remaining parcels of lowland old-growth forest.

“With its mossy rain forest and humongous trees, the property itself is like stepping into an enchanted fairy tale,” said Sarah Krueger, conservation manager for The Mountaineers.

The celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is packed with activities for all ages. Day-long activites include nature crafts, educational exhibits, Leave No Trace games and an English ivy pulling project.

Scheduled activities include an introduction to hiking clinic at 10 a.m. and salmon smolt trap viewing with the Suquamish Tribe from 10 a.m. to noon. The traps will be installed on Lost and Wildcat creeks on the property, and are used to monitor the population of coho and cutthroat trout. Krueger said the number of those species returning to the creeks to spawn has increased in recent years.

For a nominal fee, a marshmallow and hotdog roast (or veggie dog, if you are so inclined) is from noon to 2 p.m.

Beginning at 1 p.m., and again at 3 p.m., Kitsap storyteller Jo Walter will inspire imaginations with captivating tales.

Throughout the day, participants can give the Rhododendron Preserve the gift of eradicating the invasive English ivy. The easy to pull ivy makes for a satisfying project, even for the youngest attendees.

Founded in 1906, The Mountaineers’ mission is to enrich the community by helping people explore and learn about the nature in the Pacific Northwest. This first celebration is a joint effort of the Mountaineers Program in Seattle, and the Kitsap branch as well as the Mountaineers Foundation.

With its diameter of 11 feet, it’s going to take multiple people to wrap their arms around Big Tree. But for a living thing that has stood for eight centuries, and has endured the elements, including a nasty lightening strike a few years back, Big Tree could use a hug or two.

Details: April 23 from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. at the Rhododendron Preserve, 3153 Seabeck Highway NW, Bremerton.

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