Description of Natural Components: The ecosystem and activity stations are being designed to support academic concepts required by students in the classroom. The two areas of focus within the E-Systems are:
1.) Ecological Knowledge
2.) Wildlife Resources
This outdoor classroom provides opportunities for exciting, hands-on, real-world learning activities with students and teachers. Being able to see and work in environmental training zones and nature areas will increase students' enthusiasm for learning and impact self-esteem.
Flora/Fauna: Situated in the piney woods of East Texas, including steep dissected hillsides and their associated vegetation, these ecosystems provide considerable habitat variety. Wildlife species that are characteristic of East Texas include: deer, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, bobcats, and cougars, as well as numerous species of birds. The recent migration of reintroduced black bears adds to the project's resources. These bears were once indigenous to the area, and through a recovery program in Louisiana, sightings are starting to occur within this area. These animals are working their way into East Texas along the Sabine River, which runs just 7 miles north of the site.
The E-System is divided into two main areas that are comprised of a woodlot system of mixed hardwoods and softwoods. There is a natural wetland system created by steep embankments and springs that feed a creek that runs throughout the system. This natural landscape is situated in the northern section of the wildlife refuge and is bordered by farmlands to the north and wetland areas that further lead into woodlands located at the southeastern side of the park.
Elevation (Highest Point): 570 ft. above sea level, one of the highest points in Smith County.
Weather: July average high is 97 degrees with a SW breeze; January average low is 32 degrees; first/last freeze: Nov. 25/April 3.
Activities: Activities include nature study through E-Trails with structured activities at E-Stations along the woodlot and wetland systems. The structured activities originate from the curriculum of Project WILD/ Aquatic and Project Learning Tree. Each station will be clearly labeled and cross-referenced to these activity guides. Additional structuring allows for electronic monitoring of captive felines who represent three continents. This monitoring is to be correlated directly to a WeatherNet Station, allowing for correlations to be observed, drawn, and recorded for long-term behavioral studies.
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