Participants in the ArrowCorps5 project will be awarded a badge for their work

A project on schedule this summer for an estimated 5,000 top Boy Scouts from across the nation to restore, repair, rebuild, reclaim and refurbish miles of trails, acres and glens in the nation’s forests is being described as the largest Boy Scout national service project since World War II.

It’s called ArrowCorps5, and is a project of the Order of the Arrow, the national honor society for the Boy Scouts of America.

It will see a total of 5,000 volunteers, divided into five groups of 1,000, that will spend a week in each of five national forest regions, providing more than 250,000 hours of volunteer service and making immediate and dramatic improvements in the health of the forests and the wildlife.

“ArrowCorps5 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 of the 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.”

The week-long projects will run from June into August at the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri starting June 7, Manti-La Sal in Utah starting June 14, George Washington and Jefferson in Virginia starting June 21, Shasta-Trinity in California starting July 12 and Bridger-Teton in Wyoming starting July 26.

“Kids must understand why forests are so valuable so they will grow into citizens who support conservation. Building on the 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.

The work will include restoring ecosystems, chopping and removing invasive plants and trees, building trails, maintaining various features, working on bridges, improving campsites, weed control, and in Wyoming, removing 8,000 feet of a fence 10 feet high.

Scott Scheffler, a volunteer spokesman for the scouts, told WND that will “immediately” change the environment for wildlife in the area. In Missouri, 100 acres or more of invasive salt cedar will be removed, restoring the area’s water table, allowing grasslands to re-grow and restoring the area’s beautiful vistas.

“These kids are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the national honor society,” he said. “These kids are picked to be in the Order of the Arrow and they represent the highest ideals of scouting.”

He responded to a question about how scouts have been under attack in recent years: From the West Coast where a troop was kicked out of a marina because of the private organization’s refusal to promote homosexuals as leaders for young boys, to Philadelphia, where there’s an ongoing dispute over the scout headquarters building.

“These kids don’t get involved in that debate,” he said. “This is about these kids stepping up and being an example to the rest of us, that if we value our public lands and if we and groups like the Boy Scouts don’t involve ourselves in improving them, they won’t be there for future generations.”

He said the projects are so extensive in some locations, not only couldn’t the government pay a contractor to do the work, one probably couldn’t be found either.

In the Shasta-Trinity location, for example, there will be trail repair work, cleanup of illegal dumps in the forests, as well as fuel reduction efforts.

“There will be standard trail maintenance done for the approximately 69 miles of PCT [Pacific Coast Trail] from where is enters the Forest at Peavine Creek to the I5. Standard trail maintenance provides restoration of the trail as needed, and could include installation or re-construction of water bars, tread reconstruction, brushing, possible signage at trail intersections, and restoration and/or construction of new erosion protective structures adjacent to the trail. Additionally, there will be trail maintenance on the approximately 7 mile McCloud Loop Trail, which will include brushing, tread work and route markers. Elevations along these elements of the project vary from 2200 feet to over 6100 feet. Preliminary planning indicates that this work will require approximately 21 crews, with 10 members in each crew,” the assignment sheet starts.

“West of the I5, there have been three trails identified as in need of maintenance. Directly west of the I5, the PCT passes through the Castle Crags Wilderness (CCW), with slightly over 15 miles of trail that needs standard trail maintenance. All work in this area will be performed with hand tools and/or pole trimmers. No mechanical type of equipment will be allowed to be used on this element of the project. Beyond the wilderness area, there is an additional 46 miles of the PCT out to Bull Lake that will need standard trail maintenance. Additionally, a PCT feeder trail slightly over 24 miles in length, known as the Sisson Callahan Trail (SCT), is also in need of some heavy repair. Some of this trail, about 1.5 miles in length, has gullies 2 to 3 feet deep that will require intense rock work to bring the tread back up and create lead off ditches through adjacent berms. The elevation at the I5 starts these elements of the project off at 2200 feet and can get over 7600 feet, with the average at around 5500 feet. It is presently planned that 4 crews will be needed for the trail within the wilderness, 12 teams on the balance of the PCT, and 18 crews on the Sisson Callahan Trail work,” it continues.

“The final trail project is the construction of a new South Gate Trail at Panther Meadows, north of the city of Mt. Shasta. This 1.1 miles of trail is partially in the Mt Shasta Wilderness and is presently in the environmental evaluation and permitting cycle. It is hoped that the approval process will be completed in time for 2 crews to construction this new trail at a 6500 foot level,” it said.

And that’s just part of the work at one of the sites.

Otis Blankenship, a contingent coordinator at that location, told WND it provides the youth an opportunity to “give back to their community.”

“This, in my opinion, is a precursor of things to come. We’re talking about a larger scale across the nation. We want the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the YMCA, all the other youth groups, out from in front of the television and back into the forest,” he said. “These are our future leaders of our society. We have to help them have an understanding of what’s happening with our forests.”

The project also serves as a prelude to the organization’s plans for its 100th anniversary 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 added. “We celebrate this legacy as we reaffirm our commitment to inspire and prepare future generations of leaders through historic and meaningful projects and partnerships.”

Not only are the youth leaders donating their time and talents, they are paying their own expenses to travel in most cases and fees of about $250 per person per week, to cover the costs of food, housing, equipment and the like, officials said.

There are about 4.7 million people ages 7-20 in the scouting program run by more than 300 councils across the United States and its territories. The Order of the Arrow involves about 180,000 of those. The Forest Service manages about 193 million acres of land across the U.S., roughly the equivalent of the state of Texas.


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