Summary by Michael Schwartz
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Franklin Canyon Park - You're lost in the woods. You're cold, frightened and most of all hungry. What are you going to do? What are you going to eat? Well if you had accompanied Peter Rice on one of the many nature walks he conducts at Franklin Canyon Park, you'd know exactly what kind of plants you could eat, what kind of plants you could make into clothing, and what kind of plants you should stay as far away from as possible. (Of course - unless you are a fully trained specialist do NOT try eating or touching anything you find in the wild.)
"Everything is either, protection, food ,or shelter for the creatures who live here, and 275 years ago, the Indians survived on natural resources to feed themselves. This was the native American's supermarket; shrubs and trees were used for food, medicine, clothes, tools, dyes, houses, and tools -- everything they needed, they got out here."
-- Peter Rice
Peter routinely takes around groups of 20 or so and shows them all about the natural foods, tools, and history of the land. There's also a few things to avoid: this is poison oak. As the name suggests, you want to stay as far away from it as possible.
A tasteful and useful plant, the Stingy Nettle can be used to make rope. It's also very nutritious and tastes like spinach. But be careful, they don't call it 'stinging' for nothing.
Most of us think of fire as a destructive force of nature, but the opposite is actually true. Peter explains: "fire is nature's way of cleaning up its own mess."
In fact, many of the plants on the mountains need fire to live. Fire will clean up dead and tangled upper brush, but the root system will be intact. "The heat of the fire will cause the underground seeds and pods, which may have been waiting for 50 or 60 years, to crack open and give birth to new plants."
There are many different types of nature walks offered, for different interests and people of all ages. If you live in or near Los Angeles and you'd like to join Peter or another docent on one of these wonderful nature hikes, call the William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom in Franklin Canyon Park at 310-858-3090.
Remember, to be safe, never eat or touch anything you find in the wild.