MDC offers Urban Woodsman event Feb. 16 in Kansas City

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – The urban forest in winter can provide maple syrup to please the palate or firewood to warm toes. A free Urban Woodsman program will showcase using tree products for food, art, and fun with activities for all ages from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., in Kansas City.

MDC staff earlier tapped trees for sap in the Discovery Center’s outdoor garden. The collected sap will be boiled down to make syrup from trees such as maple and walnut. Visitors will get a demonstration of how to tap trees and boil sap. Plus, they’ll get to taste fresh-made syrup on silver-dollar-sized pancakes, said Pat Whalen, MDC education specialist.

Also on the menu are barbecued beaver sliders, or sandwiches. James Worley, MDC education specialist and wild game chef par excellence, will be par boiling beaver meat to make it tender, grilling it for smoky flavor, and adding BBQ sauce. Visitors will get a taste test of game meat that Worley said resembles roast beef. The role of furbearers in nature’s ecology and American history will also be discussed, as will trapping and how to skin pelts from game animals.

Squirrels of course stash away nuts for the winter, but so do people. Last autumn, MDC staffers collected walnuts and other wild edibles from trees such as plums, persimmons, and certain types of mushrooms. Staff will demonstrate how to utilize wild edibles that trees provide.

On the artful side, members of the Kansas City Woodturners Association will demonstrate how they make beautiful bowls, vases, and other works of art from wood. Their art will be on display at the Discovery Center through February. But Urban Woodsman visitors will also get a chance to talk with the artists and see how they create their crafts.

Abe Lincoln, born in February, grew up splitting rails and chopping wood for the fireplace. But for those who did not grow up with an ax in hand, staff will demonstrate tools and techniques for splitting firewood. Plus, visitors can view the correct size for a cord of wood, the unit often used for wood sales.

Children will find tree limbs stacked as shelters and hideaways at the Center’s Sycamore Station outdoor play area. They can explore mammal pelts and participate in kid craft activities geared to nature and enjoying the outdoors in winter.

The free Urban Woodsman program is offered as a walk-in event, registration is not required. For more information, call the Discovery Center at 816-759-7300, or visit