Participants in the ArrowCorps5 project will be awarded a badge for their work
Members of the honor society for the Boy Scouts of America who had to change their service project plans in Wyoming when the U.S. Forest Service instead allowed the Rainbow Family hippie group to use a location the Scouts had sought now are helping the federal agency fight a forest fire in the state.
According to a report in the Casper Star-Tribune the Scouts, some of an estimated 1,000 members of the Order of the Arrow in the state, have “stepped in” to help firefighters in the Bridger-Teton National Forest fight the New Fork Lakes fire, about 19 miles north of Pinedale.
The blaze started when a campfire got out of control and, during the course of about eight hours earlier this week, grew from 40 to 1,500 acres.
The Scouts are staffing the supply line that provides materials and services to firefighters, officials said. Firefighters also have established a command post at the Scouts’ camp.
“It is a great help to have the extra hands,” fire cache manager Heidi Zardus told the newspaper. “They are helping me get the orders filled and the supplies shipped out in record time.”
The Scouts were in the area to work on a major forest restoration project that had been planned since 2004.
The massive project, called ArrowCorps5 and described as the largest of its kind in decades, has had Order of the Arrow members working on various locations around the nation this summer.
The plan had about 5,000 top Boy Scouts from across the country donating an estimated 250,000 hours of time to restore, repair, rebuild, reclaim and refurbish miles of trails, acres and glens at five different sites in the nation’s forests. In most cases, the scouts paid their own travel and room and board expenses to participate in the biggest service project since World War II.
“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.”
But as WND had reported, the Forest Service decided earlier this summer to move the Scouts from part of their long-planned work sites in favor of the unorganized annual gathering of hippies, anarchists and “free spirits” who commune with nature and each other.
The decision by the Forest Service to evict the Scouts from the location occupied by the Rainbows left local Wyoming leaders infuriated.
“It’s a matter of intimidation,” Sublette, Wyo., County commissioner Joel Bousman told WND. “It appears the Rainbow group has managed to intimidate an entire federal agency.”
Federal officials, after the Rainbow gathering, said they were re-evaluating their procedures and may have to ban meetings such as the arrest-marred gathering in Wyoming over the July 4th holiday weekend.
According to a report from the Associated Press, John Twiss, chief of law enforcement and investigations for the U.S. Forest Service, said the event’s participants were “non-compromising” and “arrogant” and a review and a ban may be needed.
“I think we have to have that discussion within the agency,” he told AP. “We spend an awful lot of time and effort on these people. And frankly, the taxpayers deserve better.”
The Casper Star-Tribune also is reporting that the cleanup effort by the Rainbow Family from the assembly estimated at about 7,000 people is “cosmetic.”
“It is cleanup,” said District Ranger Tom Peters. “But it certainly is not rehabilitation by any stretch of the imagination. And it is not re-naturalization, which is a term they use and I’m not really sure what that means. But it is cleanup. I would describe it as cosmetic cleanup. They’re taking out the trash.”
He said members of the crew that remained behind are covering compost pits with soil, covering up trenches and covering fire pits with branches and tree trunks. One of the more egregious uses of public land, he noted, was a fire pit some 40 feet in diameter and four feet deep.
Before the Rainbow gathering, Mark Rey, the federal undersecretary supervising the U.S. Forest Service, met with Rainbow Family members in Pinedale, and urged them to move their gathering, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. They refused.
Rey told WND he thought the decision to move the Scouts to somewhere else and leave the Rainbow Family alone was the best under the circumstances. He said the government allows the Rainbow Family to bypass its regular permit requirements in favor of an “operating plan” but the bottom line was that the government didn’t want to be arresting hundreds or thousands of people.
“They couldn’t be expelled without a fairly significant amount of law enforcement activity,” he told WND a week before the gathering began.
“The Boy Scouts have been planning this since 2004,” Bousman objected. “They’ve been through the planning process and have been working very cooperatively with our Forest Service. They’ve spent lots of money planning the biggest venture ever for the Boy Scouts.
“They did everything legally, they had their permits. But because of the fact Undersecretary Rey, for whatever reason, took it on himself to do what he has referred to as an experimental process by which he does not require the Rainbow Group to have any permit, the conflict developed,” Bousman said.