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Boy Scouts, Volunteers Planting Trees at Chadron State Park

Tree planters at Fort Robinson State Park
Kylie, at left, and Karen Godman of Cheyenne, Wyoming, plant ponderosa pine seedling in the Spring Creek area of Fort Robinson State Park and Wildlife Management Area in April 2014. (NEBRASKAland Magazine/Justin Haag)

About 250 Boy Scouts of the Longs Peak Council will gather at Chadron State Park this weekend to plant trees in areas burned by the 2012 wildfire that entered the popular northwestern Nebraska tourism attraction and burned much of its ponderosa pine forest and surrounding areas. The public is invited to assist in the planting of 3,000 trees in the park Saturday morning.

Participants will begin planting trees after an education session at 8 a.m. and are expected to finish before 1 p.m. Five areas have been targeted for planting, including the park’s south boundary, the Sawmill Shelter, the cabins, the campground and near the superintendent’s residence.

Gregg Galbraith, Chadron State Park superintendent, said the efforts of the scouts and other volunteers are greatly appreciated. Helping organize the effort are employees of Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District and the Nebraska Forest Service. Most of the funding for the project is being provided by a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

“These trees will help reforest areas burned in the park while complementing the many trees that survived the fire,” Galbraith said. “These new plantings will be spaced in a way to complement our existing thinning efforts, reducing the chance for catastrophic wildfire in the park in the future.”

The Longs Peak Council has had a long tradition of planting trees in Nebraska. For 25 years ending in 2014, hundreds of Boy Scouts gathered annually at Fort Robinson State Park to reforest areas burned in that area’s 1989 wildfire.

Jim Schmitt of Dalton, the scout leader organizing the effort, said this planting – the scouts’ first at Chadron State Park — will be a little different. Unlike the effort at Fort Robinson, the Boy Scouts will plant tree plugs, which come with soil and nutrients around their roots, instead of bare root seedlings. Schmitt said fewer trees will be planted than were planted at Fort Robinson’s annual effort, but he expects the new plantings to have much better chance of survival – up to 93 percent. He said the trees will be planted in sheltered and shaded spots to give them the best protection from the elements.

People who would like to volunteer are encouraged to contact Schmitt at 308-249-1195 or Sheri Daniels of the UNWNRD at 308-432-6190 or daniels@unwnrd.org.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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