Scouts and Forest Service join forces

Tony D'Souza
ArrowCorps5 Crew #25 restores a section of the Sisson-Callahan Trail near mile marker 00 Tuesday morning. The ArrowCorps5 service project is the largest the Boy Scouts of America have undertaken since World War II.

The meadow at the Lower Lodge of the Mount Shasta Ski Park came to life last week as hundreds of Order of the Arrow Boy Scouts pitched their tents to embark on “ArrowCorps5,” the largest service project the organization has undertaken since World War II.

Scouts arrived in Siskiyou County on Saturday, July 12, from as far away as Florida, North Carolina, New York state, the Philippines and Japan to conduct five days of maintenance on the Pacific Crest and Sisson-Callahan trails, refurbishment of the Little Mt. Hoffman Lookout and four comfort stations, and removal of illegally dumped trash in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in conjunction with the US Forest Service.

Four years in the making, the ArrowCorps5 service project has sent over 5,000 Order of the Arrow Scouts to five National Forest sites across the nation, including the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, culminating in 250,000 volunteer man hours valued at $5 million.

The idea of the ArrowCorps5 project originated in a long-standing service partnership between the Boy Scouts and the US Forest Service at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, according to Clyde Mayer, national director of the Order of the Arrow.

“It’s natural for the Boy Scouts to work with the Forest Service,” said Mayer. “Four years ago the Boy Scouts of America approached the US Forest Service about a national service project, 13 Forest Service areas responded, and from these the Shasta-Trinity National Forest was among the five that were chosen.”

At the ArrowCorps5 Media Day on Tuesday, July 15, the complexity of the planning and logistics involved in the project was immediately apparent. Not only was the Ski Park meadow a virtual quilt of colored pup tents, but the Lower Lodge itself had been transformed into the Scouts’ “Incident Command Post,” something akin to a military headquarters.

At a long bank of computers and communications equipment, Scouts radioed work crews and spike camps scattered throughout the Shasta-Trinity Forest, ensuring that each work site was provisioned with adequate food and water, and checking on the wellness of the hundreds of Scouts in the field.

Khaki was the color of the day, as uniformed Scouts and Forest Service personnel bustled through the command area, tracking the progress of the crews and their work on full-color topography maps lining the walls.

Before the video cameras and notepads of media who had arrived to cover the event from as far away as Chico, Order of the Arrow National Chief Jake Wellman, 18, briefed the press on the scope and intention of the project as Boy Scout commanders and Forest Service officers looked on.

“This is the largest volunteer project ever in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, all five sites together is one of the largest national volunteer projects in the National Forests since World War II,” Wellman said. “It’s the largest project the Boy Scouts of America has ever undertaken.”

Steve Bradley, the project’s Incident Commander pointed out that the 550 Scouts assigned to the Shasta-Trinity site each paid a $250 program fee as well as their own travel expenses to participate, and Kathleen Jordan, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Incident Commander added, “The project will benefit forest visitors for years to come.”

The press were then given hardhats and protective eyewear and shuttled in vans from the Incident Command Post at the Ski Park, around the north end of Lake Siskiyou, and up a rugged logging road to visit one of the 26 Boy Scout crews working in the area.

Along the way, Wellman – who would be among three Scouts thanked personally for his volunteerism by President Bush during the President’s Thursday visit to Redding – spoke about the Order of the Arrow.

Tents crowded the meadow at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park last week as hundreds of Boy Scouts participated with the US Forest Service in the ArrowCorps5 national service project.