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At one of the stops Adam Stebbins pointed out a large white flower called cow parsnip and then told the group of hikers the irony of its name:

“Cows don’t like it,” he said.

At another he pointed out a plant he called bedstraw, explaining that the sticky plant grabs onto passing people and wildlife so that it can scatter its seeds further afield.

At a third he talked about how in a nearby open meadow county staff cleared out a stand of unhealthy Douglas Fir trees to expand the prairie in which pollinators and native species thrive.

Stebbins, the natural resources coordinator for Benton County, pointed all of this out on a guided walk at the Beazell Memorial Forest Sunday that was part of an ongoing series of events by local organizations to encourage people to get outdoors. Natural Areas Celebration Week, organized by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, started Saturday and continues until May 15, and has more than a dozen events remaining, offered throughout the county by a variety of organizations. Visit http://bit.ly/1hT5LVe for more information about the upcoming events.

Stebbins said the county is hosting two more of the events during the week. He said offering events like the walk meet with the county’s goals of promoting outdoor education.

“There’s really no better week to sell people on outdoors,” he said. “Springtime in Benton County is just beautiful.”

Stebbins said giving people opportunities to get outdoors is a major goal for the county because it helps ensure that people will want to protect natural areas.

“It’s really vital for conservation to have the future generations and adults now to have a positive experience in our parks,” he said.

The event Sunday afternoon at the county property in the Kings Valley area was geared towards families because it was Mothers Day. The event also had a photographer on hand to offer hike participants a free family portrait after the hike. About a dozen people attended.

Lauren Sanders, a Corvallis resident who attended the event with her kids and husband, said she and her husband have backgrounds in horticulture, so they liked the chance to have the guided tour.

“It’s something where we could sit back and have a guide and our children can see it’s not just their parents who talk about this stuff,” she said.

Christine Mosbaugh, who attended with her family, said she participated because it seemed like a good way to get to know more areas in the county.

“If you don’t have a guide you miss a lot of it,” she said. “It was a nice hike.”

She added that it was nice to be able to have a family photo taken.

“It was a nice added bonus, but we were just interested in getting out,” she said.

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Anthony Rimel can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.

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