Saturday, March 17, 2007

Volunteer Class

I graduated this week from the Lake Oroville Visitors Center volunteer class.I am now a volunteer for the California Parks Department and a docent of the Bidwell Bar Association.
I am so glad I signed up for this.I learned so much about the history,geology,tradition,culture and natural resources of this area and northern Califonia in general.I learned how and why the Dam was built and what an amazing feat it was and how the lake and Dam generate electricity and water for the region and entire state.

The early residents of this area were the Maidu and Concow Indians and what a rich culture they have.Then came the white settlers and the travestry the white people caused the Native people.It is little known that there was our own Trail of Tears here in California whereby the government rounded up all the many tribes and had them encamped in one place.Many did not survive the walk to that location.Those that did had to mix culture,traditions and language.
We still have native Maidu and Concow in this area and they try their best to keep the traditions going.

I learned about the abundant wildlife in this area and how the native people never traveled more than a 25 mile radius because this region had all they needed.
Oroville is home to the "Mother Orange Tree" now over 100 yrs old.It is believed to be the tree brought in from Mexico that fueled the citrus industry so recognized and valuable as an agracultural industry as we know it today.This region also boasts the first olive crop in California.Mrs.Ehrmann brought the olive trees right here to Oroville and the Ehrmann's were early and important residents to we have olive orchards right here in Oroville,in fact two are less than 10 minutes from my home.Almonds are also a big crop in this area and in fact most of the almonds you would eat today were grown right here in Butte county.

I learned all the recreational and habitat information about Lake Oroville.
I learned about the Department of Water Resources and California Parks Department.
Many are not aware that the Lake Oroville Dam is the largest in the country,larger than the Hoover Dam and the second largest eathern Dam in the world.

I learned we have more than 50 miles of hking,equaestrian and bike trails throughout Oroville and the Lake along with many ground campsites.The most unusual campsites are floating campsites out on the Lake.

I learned about the gold rush history and the early days of Oroville.In fact, there is a historical association called the Bidwell Bar Association that carries on the traditions and culture of that time.It is so named because John Bidwell was one of the first to settle this area and the location was named Bidwell Bar located on the Feather River that later was excavated to become Lake Oroville.The Bidwell Bar Bridge and Toll House was relacated to a nearby location now called Wyche Island to preserve them and they are an important part of our local history.The BBA has tow events a year known as Bidwell Bar Day in early May and Frontier Christmas in early December.The proceeds from the sales those days goes to sponsor assets at the Visitor Center that the state Parks Department doesn't have the funds to cover.

In the few weeks of classes we were given an excellent overview of all that encompasses the Visitor Center.I can't thank the volunteer docents and the staff that were responsible in making the class a fun,interesting and informative class.