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  CONTACT: Jennifer Sroka
PHONE: (313) 593-5644
DATE: Feb. 6, 2004

Environmental center offers 'sweet' activities

DEARBORN---It's maple syrup season for the Natural Areas at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and volunteers are needed to assist with several sweet activities.

The Environmental Interpretive Center will host a tree-tapping event from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14 for people interested in learning about the sugaring process. Participants will learn to identify proper trees for tapping and then have the opportunity to collect sap from the trees.

Individuals and organized groups are welcome to attend the event. Participants will use old-fashioned tapping equipment to put holes in sugar maple trees. Volunteers also should expect a moderate amount of walking in everything from icy to muddy conditions and should dress accordingly.

Volunteers also are needed to collect sap on various days between Feb. 23 and March 17, including weekends. Participants meet at 4 p.m. at the EIC and are in the field collecting sap for about two hours. Individuals and organized groups are welcome to participate. Participants must be at least 6 years old. To register, contact Rick Simek, EIC program supervisor, at (313) 583-6371.

Adult volunteers are needed to help make syrup by tending the sap stove. No prior experience is necessary and training is provided. The process involves a six-hour commitment during the day, usually from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers must be available at least two days per week during the three to four weeks following the first flow of sap from trees. Sap flow is weather dependent, but syrup is usually made from mid- to late-February to mid-March. Training will be provided. For more information, contact Simek at (313) 583-6371.

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