Scout leaders honor local officials
Five hundred and fifty scouts, their leaders and instructors lived in Huntington for one week working on the tamarisk removal project. As they worked on their project and came to know a little about Emery County and the surrounding area, they had many remarks and comments about their experiences. The following remarks are some of their observances and experiences.
Tim Riedl, "I am from Dubuque, Iowa and am part of the instructor corp. There are 40 instructors and 12 are trained as sawyers. I work with the other boy scout volunteers and forest sevice volunteers. We have cleared 21 miles of tamarisk, (by June 18). It is exhausting work and I was on the Mark Twain forest, too. I am 20 years old. It is beautiful here, hot and dry. It's humid back where I come from. The landscape is beautiful. I want to come back in the future and see what the tamarisk look like. For our recreation, I went to the dinosaur museum and the bone quarry it was pretty neat. We also went to the wave pool in Price. They serve us good food, hot breakfasts and suppers and Philmont meals for lunch. These meals are prepackaged and are packaged at the scout ranch in New Mexico. We go back to Philmont between projects if we have time. We are also going to Shasta-Trinity and Bridger-Teton."
Some of the participants had been through Utah before and for some it was their first visit. But all said they would like to return some day. Many of the participants were going to stay in the area and surrounding areas for an extended vacation.
Andrew Furphy said, "The work is fun. You have to enjoy it. We are paying to be here to work and some people find that hard to believe."
Morgan Clark is from Ferron and working on the fence crew for the forest service for the summer. He worked on spraying the cut tamarisk on the project. The tamarisk were sprayed with birch bark spray which is absorbed through the bark and enters the plant killing the roots.
Marc Bucchieri is from Boston, Mass. He was able to attend the Order of the Arrow service project on a scholarship program. He is enjoying his time in Utah and said it was a little hotter here.
Robbie Brennan from Boston, Mass. said he came to the project with 14 other people in their group. He said it is very nice and beautiful here.
Derek Bankes from Bloomsburg, Penn. is 16 years old. He really likes it out here and he lives in the country in Pennsylvania where it is really green. "I do like the desert here. It's fun meeting new people. It's very fun here."
The scouts weren't the only ones visiting the area. The Monticello district fire engine crew was also part of the chain saw gang. Terry Garver worked to sharpen blades on the chain saws. Kevin Kennedy was their group leader and they were camping at the basecamp at Buckhorn Draw so they didn't drive back and forth every day. Sarah Markley was also with this crew.
Lee Gaston one of the instructor corp said he would attend all the projects. At Buckhorn Draw he was working with safety and observing scouts to make sure they worked safely.
Jared Ruekberg from San Diego, Calif. said there just wasn't enough shade out there as he lounged under a tamarisk bush, which after lunch was going to be cut down. He didn't mind the heat, he said he was used to that.
As part of the safety routine the scouts would work 30-45 minutes depending on weather conditions and then have a 15 minute rest period. The scouts were instructed to drink one-two liters of water per hour.
Jim Nielsen is the Emery County Weed and Mosquite leader. He helped supervise the project and would go from group to group filling their spray bottles. Nielsen had a perma-grin across his face the entire week. "It's just a miracle. I was driving out here and couldn't see any tamarisk, it was just like someone had waved a magic wand." Nielsen appreciated the work completed by the scouts. With the resources available to his weed department Nielsen knows they could never have accomplished a project of this magnitude. He will always be grateful for the scouts contribution.
Dave Dowty from Montgomery, Ala. and Tracy Schutze from San Diego, tracked down the media as they wandered among the scouts and volunteers. They said the scouts were way ahead of their goals. They were using mop up crews to cover additional areas beyond the projected areas for completion. The crews started at the Swinging Bridge and worked their way north. They completed Calf Canyon. To this point they only had one injury when a scout injured his thumb.
Dowty said safety has been their main priority. He feels the preparation and safety briefings each morning have led to the scouts working safely. They have stressed drinking water as the primary measure to guard against dehydration. The rest breaks guard against heat exhaustion.
Schutze said they have two safety teams that roam through the scouts keeping them safe. If they see any safety measures not strictly adhered to, they notify the instructors by radio. He also said temperatures were carefully monitored and it's been from 92-95 degrees. Scouts found working safely were given safety bucks to use at the trading post.
Dennis Worwood, county extension agent worked on the project spraying the stumps. He said it was good to have the boy scouts here. He worked spraying the tamarisk around Joe's Valley and spent the remainder of the days on the Swell. He said the spray they are using is relatively safe and non-toxic for animals and humans.
Vern Miller of Sugar Grove, N.C. said it's pretty awesome out here. "It's the best office in the world. Cutting tamarisk is pretty hard. With all the gear on it gets pretty hot. I am going to all five camps."
Ian Sawyer of Shawnee, Kan. said, "I am having the time of my life."
Dr. Bill Bodenstab of Lihuehawail, Hawaii, said the San Rafael area compares very favorably to the Grand Canyon.
The scouts were split into groups of manageable numbers. There were 16 in each crew and four scouts in a squad.
Cameron Locke, 15, from Murrieta, Calif. said "It's way hotter here. I am really enjoying the project. I've never been out of the state of California before. I thought it would be fun and a new experience. I am going to be a rock star when I grow up."
Bobby Cicero from Riverside County, Southern Calif. said, "The Order of the Arrow is about community service. It's a new experience that I wanted to be a part of. It has been awesome. We went to the wave pool and that was fun. We also play frisbee after dinner at camp. There's a recreation tent and we watched the Transformer movie. On my recreation day I went white water rafting and it was awesome."
Robert Leighow is from Bloomsburg, Penn. He brought eight scouts to the project and is enjoying it. This was his first trip to Utah and he plans to stay longer and tour the national parks in southern Utah. His wife was driving out from Pennsylvania to meet him and the scouts.
Russell Bresnahan is a crew leader, he keeps track of 15 scouts. He facilitates safety and after lunch each day they have a leadership program where the scouts think about how conservation work helps everyone and affects those who will come after the scouts. Bresnahan is from St. Louis, Mo. "I love it here at this site and I love all the youth. The youth have been very cooperative. We have done an amazing amount of work. We have by far beat all expectations. The cooperation has just been amazing. Everyone has just been so helpful they have provided everything we need."
Dowty said the Philmont camp is in Cimarron, N.M. and is like a Disneyland for boy scouts. The camp is a high adventure base which spans 137,000 acres. Several scout camps and programs are held there each year. During the winter several ladies get together and package the lunches used for the scout camps and those lunches were used on the site at the Buckhorn. Some of the programs include mining and railroad instruction. The 40 instructor corp members were trained at Philmont.
Brad Pepper is one of the staff photographers for the event. He said, "It's just been wonderful, awesome and fantastic. A lot of hard work has made a world of difference. We got more done with less people than expected. The BLM and forest service are very pleased," said Pepper.
Maybe the person most responsible for the success of the tamarisk project is Ferron district ranger, Mesia Nyman. She said, "It's just amazing how much they got done. When I moved here six years ago the tamarisk were just starting to invade the Swell. I thought wouldn't it be nice if we could get rid of the tamarisk. One day I was in the office and there was a letter asking for submittal of possible projects for the forest. I had one day to write and submit a plan. I submitted the plan for tamarisk removal and also some historical photos of the tamarisk invasion. The plan was accepted and I was amazed. It's been three years in the planning and we sent John Healy all over the country to the planning meetings in preparation for this project. It's been a time intensive project. In all we had 24 partners. It's just thrilling to see it done.
"The tamarisk was planted as a decorative plant and at one time it was planted by the agencies because they thought it was a good stabilizing plant. They didn't know what the affects would be. It spread without control. This project sets that invasion back 30 years. It's a miracle to get rid of those plants. They have cleared 33 miles and they started at the top of the drainage in Joe's Valley. The tamarisk are spread by animals and the wind. They are invading new country all the time. There are more tamarisk on the BLM ground. At the Swinging Bridge it was wall to wall tamarisk. The scouts nicknamed some of the tamarisk stands the black forest. They cut tamarisk up all the side canyons. Tamarisk are very hardy, you can't burn them they just come back.
"They have introduced beetles in some areas to help control tamarisk. But they don't get rid of them. The bug isn't native to our area either, but they say the beetle just eats the tamarisk and when they are gone the bug dies. The bug sucks the juice out of the tamarisk and they turn yellow. After three seasons of doing this the tamarisk is supposed to die. The local scouts are going to help keep the tamarisk down and treat those that come back or new stands. It's been a wonderful week and a dream come true. We have been looking forward to this for five years and couldn't have done it without these scout volunteers. We at the local level just don't have enough funding or man power to have an affect. This experience of the agencies working close together will lead to an even better relationship. We have seen how if we all work together it has a bigger affect than if we work separately. Most of these scouts had never been to Utah before and I talked to a lot of them that want to come back to Utah and cut tamarisk again," said Nyman.