Arrowcorps5—Five Projects at Five National Forests
During the massive ArrowCorps5 project last summer, 3,600 Order of the Arrow members spent more than a quarter-million hours building trails, removing invasive species, and completing other conservation projects in five national forests. U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell viewed their work firsthand at Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
The Order of the Arrow (OA) enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a brotherhood of cheerful service. With ArrowCorps5, however, the Order highlighted its commitment to service. In five weeks last summer, the Order deployed approximately 3,600 young people and adult volunteers to national forests in five different states, where they provided more than 280,000 service hours.
The impact of ArrowCorps5 is being felt from coast to coast. In California’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest, participants rehabilitated part of the Pacific Crest Trail. In Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, they built and revitalized miles of trails and completed numerous small projects. In the Manti-La Sal National Forest (Utah) and the Mark Twain National Forest (Missouri), they cleared thousands of acres of invasive tamarisk and cedar trees. In Virginia’s George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians are already enjoying the new ArrowCorps5 Loop.
At the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah, ArrowCorps5 participants cleared 13,000 acres of tamarisk trees, an invasive species that sucks up large amounts of water and makes wildfires more likely. Scouts came from as far away as Wisconsin, Maine, and Florida to work at the Utah site.
Their work, valued at more than $5.6 million, added up to the BSA’s largest national service project since World War II and was conducted in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.
“The benefits and the accomplishments of the project almost speak for themselves,” said Mark Rey, under secretary for natural resources and environment in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “There was an affection and enthusiasm there that went beyond getting work done, although that in itself was an important contribution.”
But the lasting impact may be on the participants themselves, according to Brad Haddock, chairman of the National Order of the Arrow Committee. During the summer, he talked to numerous Scouts and adult volunteers who said ArrowCorps5 was the best week they’d ever spent in Scouting.
When participants asked Haddock when the OA would do another event like ArrowCorps5, he emphasized that they shouldn’t wait for another big project to get involved. “The idea is to be able to learn from what you’re doing here and leverage this back home,” he said.
Many Forest Service workers were just as excited as the Arrowmen, according to Rey. “There were a number of Eagle Scouts in the Forest Service who helped, not just me but others who embraced the project warmly,” he said. “There’s a significant number of Forest Service managers and employees who came up through Scouting.”
Any project as big as ArrowCorps5 yields many surprises. One of the biggest for Haddock was the number of participants who wanted to hurry through lunch breaks or skip recreation time to keep working. On reflection, though, he realized he shouldn’t have been surprised at this reaction. “By going through the program, by becoming an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow, you recognize that part of who you are is serving other people,” he said. “It was very evident that they recognized the truth in the statement that you lose yourself in service to other people.”
ArrowCorps5 workers at the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri removed more than 249,000 invasive Eastern red cedar trees, which threaten native limestone glade ecosystems. At this and other sites, Arrowmen often hurried through meals and skipped breaks in order to get more work done.