|Scout, Weston Allinson was part of a practice project to cut tamarisk held last June to get ready for scouts from across the nation that will descend upon the county this week.|
Emery County is destined to benefit from the largest national service project conducted by the Order of the Arrow Scouts since World War II. The Manti-LaSal National Forest was selected as one of five sites across the nation where members of the Boy Scouts of America honor society will provide thousands of hours of service on public lands. The project is known as ArrowCorps.
About 700 Order of the Arrow Scouts will spend one week in June helping clear tamarisk (salt cedar) from Joes Valley and the Buckhorn Draw. They will be assisted by volunteers and employees of federal, state and local agencies.
The Scouts are expected to treat tamarisk on about 30,000 acres of US Forest Service, BLM, and State Institutional Trust lands. It is the only ArrowCorp project in Utah and will occur June 14-21.
Weed managers believe the sheer size of the effort will halt the development of a tamarisk monoculture in the Buckhorn Wash area and prevent the spread of isolated tamarisk populations in Joes Valley.
"I am really glad to see that there is finally an awareness that some of the weeds out there are a threat to the environment," said James Nielsen, Emery County Weed Supervisor. "Nature can't heal itself. We have to help. To address it at this magnitude is overwhelming. I am also glad that the Scouts are going to introduce a new invasive species merit badge."
The ArrowCorp project will take place on five U.S. Forest Service sites across the country over a five-week period this summer. The service project is expected to include 5,000 members of the OA providing more than 250,000 hours of service.
"It has been very enjoyable working with the OA to bring this project together," said John Healy, range manager for the Ferron-Price Ranger District. "Their work will result in a significant reduction of salt cedar in Buckhorn Draw and elimination of this undesirable plant in Joes Valley. Continued expansion of salt cedar in these areas would have an adverse impact on native plants, birds and animals in the future but this effort will allow users to enjoy a more natural setting for many years."
In Emery County, the scouts will be housed at Canyon View Junior High and will be bused to work sites. They have a support contingent that provides meals and other needs. The scouts are expected to come from throughout the U.S. and for many, it will be their first visit to the area.
The scouts will be divided into work groups, with each group having one day of recreation and four days of work. The working Scouts will be cutting tamarisk. They will be followed by volunteers and agency employees who will chemically treat the cut stumps. This is the most effective method of treating tamarisk weed managers have found.
Besides the Forest Service and BLM, the project is being supported by the Skyline CWMA, Castleland RC&D Council, the San Rafael Conservation District, Utah Department of Agriculture, State Institutional Trust Lands, the Division of Wildlife Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, USU Extension, the Emery County School District, Rocky Mountain Power and Dow Chemical.
Scout officials have been working with John Healy of the Manti-LaSal National Forest and Karl Ivory of the Bureau of Land Management for five years to plan the project. Adult volunteers are a key to the success of the project. Those wishing to volunteer should contact Rosann Fillmore at 435-636-3525.
"ArrowCorps is the largest, most complex, most challenging conservation project ever conceived by the Order of the Arrow and Boy Scouts of America," said Brad Haddock, chairman, National Order of the Arrow Committee. "This project provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for each participant to set an example of leadership in service to those who treasure our national forests."
"Kids must understand why forests are so valuable so they will grow into citizens who support conservation. Building on the US Forest Service tradition of conservation education, we will work with partners to ensure that American children have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors, whether it is a remote mountain wilderness or a spot of nature in the heart of a city," said Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell. "Today's children-and theirs- will need to be able to take the baton and finish the race. For that, they will need a full understanding of why forests are so valuable, along with a strong land ethic. It is our job to give them both," Kimbell said.
Scouts from all across the United States will be given an opportunity to make significant and positive impacts on their national forests. These service projects will include ecosystem restoration, invasive plant and tree removal, trail construction and maintenance, bridge work, campsite improvements, erosion and weed control, and fence removal.
The project also serves as a precursor to the Boy Scouts' plans for its 100th anniversary celebration in 2010. "For nearly 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America has created a strong foundation of leadership, service, and community for millions of America's youth," Haddock said. "We celebrate this legacy as we reaffirm our commitment to inspire and prepare future generations of leaders through historic and meaningful projects and partnerships."