Tucked away in a corner of Huntington Beach Central Park is a little known area referred to as The Urban Forest. If you are lucky enough to find the small driveway, you will discover a tiny dirt parking lot that holds maybe four cars. Apparently, there are many urban forests that have been planted throughout the world.
There are many urban forests throughout the world, in which green areas are located in the cities, towns, or suburbs. In the US, there are over 141 million acres of forests located in designated urban areas. Each urban forest is different in appearance and in what it has to offer. The HB urban forest provides trails to the public for hikers, mountain bicyclists, and horseback riders. California native and drought tolerant plants, trees, and flora fill the area.
For me, the urban forest represents an escape from the city, a place to wander and roam among all the trees. It also reminds me to slow down and take a moment to appreciate the world around me, especially the natural world. I also use the urban forest to connect to the environment and to release any stress or frustration that I have.
Once I am there, I am immediately transported away from the hustle and bustle of the city and instead into a place in which I not only want to be a part of but I want to explore. I pay attention to the different kinds of flowers, shrubs, trees, birds and whatever else crosses my path. As the season changes, so do the birds and butterflies that use the forest as a stop along their migratory path.
To me, the urban forest also represents community. It was originally created and is currently maintained by volunteers. Before the first tree was planted in 2001, the area was only barren hills. Now, with the help of volunteers, over 7000 native plants and trees have been planted to form the forest. It shows the dedication and commitment that the community has in developing this precious environment. Looking at the forest, I am amazed at what has grown in the last twenty years.
Inspiring to think that the forest was created by a group of dedicated volunteers, and I now get to reap the benefits, which I am so thankful for. I have a forest to visit whenever I want even though I live in the suburbs. There are so many places to explore in your own backyard, I am just lucky that I have a forest in mine.