Saturday, September 30, 2023

Acorns and the Prime Directive

 It’s not every day you come across a request which begins, “We need your nuts.” 

The unexpected request caught my attention. So did the name on the post - - AJ Metcalf. You may recall that he used to cover HoCoLocal news during the heyday of Patch. Now he is the Communications Director at Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. And, as he states above, they want your nuts.

“Volunteer Nuts Needed!” (This just gets better and better, doesn’t it?)

Ankle High in Acorns? burfed in Dogwood Berries?

Volunteer Nuts Needed!

If you have a mature, healthy native tree in your yard dropping lots of nuts or berries this time of year, the Maryland Forest Service would gladly take them off your hands. These seeds will be grown into trees at our state nursery.

Interested in volunteering to collect? We may have sites this month that require all hands on deck and would love to have some folks on call if necessary.

Please Contact: Francis Smith | 410-260-8516

True confession time here. I have been pondering my own collection program that has nothing to do with planting or growing. 

Somehow I don’t think it’s a Canada Goose. Try again, artificial intelligence!

Backyard bird feeding is an ongoing battle with those furry, flightless things who think any feeding device is an all-day buffet for them. (If you know, you know.) While I confess to making tiny peanut butter sandwiches for them - - during snowstorms and extended periods of cold temperatures - - I just can’t keep up with their continual forays into my birdseed. It all adds up. 

Recently I had a zany idea that if I went out in the fall when acorns were dropping I could collect an ample supply and use them throughout the winter to take the edge off of squirrel hunger. However, I wondered if doing so would be tampering with the ecosystem in the immediate area where I was collecting. Did those acorns by right belong to those squirrels? Would I be violating the Prime Directive?

Yes, I am probably guilty of overthinking and of watching too much Star Trek.

It doesn’t look as though the Maryland Forestry Service is worried about the squirrel component here. Their “Prime Directive” is reforestation. I get that. It’s important. If my imagined worst case scenarios of squirrel die-out haven’t come to pass as a result of their annual collecting, perhaps my individual efforts wouldn’t tip the scales.

What do you think? Have you ever collected acorns for the Department of Natural Resources? It sounds like it might be a fun family activity. Maybe you could wangle a visit to their tree nurseries, too. And…have you ever tried collecting acorns to divert the attention of hungry squirrels? Did it work? Or did they just bury them and participate unwittingly in their own program of reforestation?

Let me know. 

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