Mission accomplished and more
A tired but still exuberant and enthusiastic group of Order of the Arrow scouts completed their tamarisk removal project and held their closing ceremonies on Friday evening. The actual work project began on June 16 and continued through June 20.
During the week they worked around Joe's Valley Reservoir and in the Buckhorn Draw in the bottom and up the side canyons. The scouts exceeded their goal and did so with less scouts than expected. Original numbers estimated 1,000 scouts would be able to attend the project but at the beginning of the event, 550 scouts actually made the trip to the Manti-LaSal service project.
At the closing ceremonies, John Fagan said, "We have had a blast. This has been the beginning of a journey. You have become the leaders of tomorrow. This has been an awesome week and you did it. You have been a vital part of Arrowcorps 5, the largest service project ever in the United States. It works out to 50 acres per person for tamarisk removal. Thirty-three miles of tamarisk removed, you have made a significant environmental change and you have saved three important areas to Utah and to our nation. You have made history and changed the future. But the impact has just begun. Three thousand more Arrowmen will change the future with cheerful enthusiasm. I offer my sincere congratulations on this week of service," said Fagan.
Fagan also reminded the scouts they will receive a patch for their Arrowcorps service. He said to let this patch remind them of the work represented. "It is the experience that the patch represents that makes it worth something," said Fagan.
"Live a life of service, continue your service and lead others in service. Take that home with you. Let the arrow patch remind you of your service here. We will encounter each other again along this path," said Fagan.
Mark Rey the Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture spoke to the scouts in their closing ceremony. He remarked the US Forest Service and the Boy Scouts are a lot alike. The forest service was founded in 1905 and the scouts in 1908. "I can't think of a better partnership. This is the largest service project in the history of the forest service," said Rey.
The project on all five forests equates to 250,000 man hours of service and the equivalent of $5 million monetary value. Rey asked the scouts to consider making the forest and land management a career. "You have built friends from around the country and learned about the resources. Most importantly you have spent a week working outdoors. Chief Abigail Kimbell wants young people to connect with nature and to have a love of the land. This work you have done goes beyond the value to the ecosystem. The lessons learned will continue for a lifetime. Through the next generation and beyond. Look back on this experience with satisfaction for a job well done and you were a part of it," said Rey.
Wayne Ludington of the Price Bureau of Land Management office spoke to the scouts. He said the BLM isn't as high a profile agency as the forest service but they are the largest land management organization. "You cleared 23 miles in the Buckhorn drainage which is one of the most high recreational use areas of the Swell. The Buckhorn is also a high resource area with eagles, mule deer and falcons. The work done will be a great help in restoring the area. Your work set back the invasion of the tamarisk and we will work to keep them out," said Ludington.
Brad Haddock the National Order of the Arrow chairman spoke to the scouts saying, "Together we have accomplished great things. I recognize all of you scouts who lived the scout law this last week." Haddock said the scouts have learned servant leadership. Servant leadership is when you aren't position conscious and are willing to serve and have the confidence to serve. Servant leaders will see where they can give service. They will initiate it on their own and a servant leader loves other people. "You have demonstrated that magnificently, I ask all of you to think about what you've learned and leverage what you've learned and take it home," said Haddock. He said that in the project beginnings 13 possible sites were identified and then narrowed down to five. "This site was chosen because we could make a difference here. We recruited people to be on the national committee and those with a temporary lack of sanity agreed to the job," said Haddock. Haddock recognized two of those people, Tish and Jack Hess and presented a painting called "October Flight" to them for their efforts.
John Healy, Mesia Nyman, Wayne Ludington, Karl Ivory, Mayor Hilary Gordon and Canyon View Junior High were honored for their parts in the overall efforts. Fagan said they collected $4,126 in the patch auction and donated that to the school as a thank you for letting the scouts use the school for one week.
The closing video likened the scouts to trees. Trees can protect, shade and offer meeting places. Trees offer signs of hope in a sometimes otherwise desolate landscape. "The only ones in this life who will truly be happy will be those who have found a way to serve; the simplest things we do for each other will make a difference. We have made this place a little better, where are you going to leave your mark?
Stilwill encouraged the scouts to all plant a tree back home in memory of this project. The tree will grow and as it does you will remember your service.
The ceremony ended and Huntington City treated the scouts to ice cream and cookies outside the building.
In talking with Jack Hess, event organizer, he said, "It went fantastic. We came into this project thinking we would have 1,000 scouts but we did twice the work and covered more acres with half the people. When I drove up Buckhorn Wash the other day, I thought, what a difference this has made. We have video and still pictures of how the tamarisk looked both before and after. I am tired, but exhilarated all at the same time. We've been here for 10 days now. I think it all ran smoothly, there were bumps and glitches. I wish we would have had 100 more scouts. Running three sites back to back was hard logistically with moving all the materials. They were in Missouri, then Utah and the 40 instructors left for Virginia yesterday. The Instructors Corp is a great group of young men. They are like the middle management. They are trained sawyers, EMTs and they work with the scouts. Larry Davis with Canyon View Junior High has just been very cooperative. It is an amazing facility and worked well for us."
JJ Arnold, public relations director said, "This is youth in action. It has been a humbling experience watching this project unfold. It's a great program to watch these boys grow through participation and leadership. I enjoy giving back to an organization that has given me so much."
The scouts have come and gone, but their service and impact will be felt for many years to come.