LINCOLN – For the 25th and final season, hundreds of Boy Scouts will converge on Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska’s Pine Ridge to plant ponderosa pine seedlings in an annual reforestation effort.
This year, more than 1,100 scouts from five states are set to plant 10,000 trees on the north side of the park. The scouts will be at the park April 4-6.
The planting effort, which began after wildfires burned 48,000 acres at Fort Robinson and the surrounding area in 1989, has a remarkable history with the park. Jim Schmitt of Dalton, a Longs Peak Council scoutmaster who leads the effort, said the scouts have planted 450,000 ponderosa pines, with an exceptional survival rate of 20-30 percent, since the effort began in 1990.
The scouts will either camp or stay in the park’s lodging. The plantings are set for April 5, following a demonstration at 8 a.m., and are open to the public. Many fun and educational activities have been scheduled for the scouts when they’re not planting trees.
Although this will be the end of the scouts’ tree planting efforts at Fort Robinson, organizers are in discussions to begin planting at nearby Chadron State Park next year, perhaps on a smaller scale. That park was struck during the series of wildfires in northwestern Nebraska in 2012.
The planting effort is largely funded by a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, which has contributed $175,000 through the years.