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Hundreds of Boy Scouts from across the nation are hard at work this week in the Glade Top Trail area of the Mark Twain National Forest. KSMU's Michele Skalicky takes us to the site.
It was a hot, sticky day in the Ozarks Thursday, but the volunteers hard at work in the Mark Twain National Forest didn't seem to mind. They were focused on what they were doing: cutting down red cedars that threaten to choke a glade.
The glade restoration project is the first part of the Boy Scouts of America's National Honor Society, the Order of the Arrow's national conservation service project this summer. As of Thursday morning, the volunteers had cut down more than 165,000 eastern red cedars on about 78 acres of the Mark Twain National Forest, and they planned to complete 100 acres before wrapping up their work here.
The scouts range in age from 14 to adult. Each paid their own way to come here. 18 year old Jake Wellman is national chief of the order of the Arrow. He says, while the forest and the public will benefit from the scouts' work, he's reaping benefits from it, too.
We hiked onto the glade to see what had been done, and those who had seen the glade before the work began were impressed with what had been done.
We finally arrived at a spot where scouts were hard at work. 14 year old William Mitchellson signed up to be part of the project to help out the environment, be part of a once in a lifetime opportunity and to leave a legacy. He didn't mind the hard work.
14 year old Andy Warner came to Missouri from Olathe, KS to help out.
Matt Walker, incident commander for the Mark Twain Project, says, at the end of the day, kids are reluctant to quit. Scott Scheffler is public information officer for the Boy Scouts. He says the scouts gain a sense of accomplishment from their work.
Bill Paxton, information officer for the National Forest Service, says the scouts are providing an invaluable service. They're helping the forest service accomplish some much needed resource management work that likely wouldn't have been able to be done anytime soon.
And he says they're helping to restore a dolomite glade, a type of glade that's imperiled in MO, AR and KS.
Paxton hopes some of the kids will consider careers in resource management. To help put that idea in their head, the forest service and other natural resource management agencies held a career day this week for the scouts to tell them about various careers available.
According to Paxton, within the next 5 to 7 years, approximately 50% of the National Forest Service's workforce will retire, and he hopes to find new leaders for the future in the Boy Scouts.
When work wraps up today, the scouts will focus their attention on 4 other national forest sites in the US: the Manti La Sal in Utah; George Washington Jefferson in Virginia; Shasta Trinity in California and Bridger Teton in Wyoming.