In 2008 the Order of the Arrow, in conjunction with the US Forest Service, coordinated a nationwide service project with over 5,000 Arrowmen in attendance. The project-called ArrowCorps5-encompassed five sites and took place over five weeks. The sites-Mark Twain National Forest, Manti-La Sal National Forest, George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Bridger-Teton National Forest-are all federal lands and the project is, to this date, the largest service project ever completed by any federal land management agency and the largest by the Boy Scouts of America since World War II.
The first phase of ArrowCorps5 began in Missouri. The goal for Mark Twain National Forest was to remove invasive cedar trees from the glade areas of the forest, allowing for the growth of native grasses. Glades are a unique ecosystem that are only found in the Ozarks and are characterized by thin, rocky soil and a steep slope, which normally only allows for grasses and other hardy plants to survive. However, over a period of time cedar trees, which were introduced by settlers, have invaded the glades, largely wiping out many species who only survive in this environment. Arrowmen were able to help restore over 100 acres of glades to how they were before European settlement in the area.
The work on Manti-La Sal National Forest began as Arrowmen congregated in Utah and worked hard to remove invasive Tamarisk, a small deciduous tree, from the forest. Tamarisk are a big problem in Utah because they grow abundantly and are very flammable, increasing the chances a wildfire may catch. The Arrowmen were able to clear 13,000 acres of Tamarisk, successfully lowering the risk of wildfire in the area.
The following week’s event was held at the Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia. The volunteers present had the opportunity to build and maintain 65 miles of trails, including the construction of the “Arrow Corp Loop Trail.” Today, the 8.3 mile trail is being used by a wide range of visitors, connecting to Dry Run and Fore Mountain Trail.
Next, the project continued at Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The project continued until the 19th, and consisted of improving the Pacific Crest Trail, cleaning up an illegal dump site, and fuel reduction to help prevent wildfires. They cleared over 100 miles of trail, removed over twenty tons of waste and repaired four US Forest Service comfort stations and one lookout tower.
The final stage took place at Bridger Teton National Forest. Over 1,000 Arrowmen gathered in Wyoming to improve trails, remove fencing, conduct erosion control and improve wildlife habitats. They also built the “Arrow Trail”, an intermediate 4.5 mile trail which is heavily used by mountain bikers and hikers today.
During ArrowCorps5, over 280,000 service hours were performed by over 3,600 volunteers. The impact made by those Scouts valued more than 5.6 million dollars, demonstrating the Order’s dedication to service. The sheer amount of conservation work provided by Arrowmen during ArrowCorps5 has a continuing impact on our national parks. Their dedicated service restored habitats, removed invasive species and created trails used by the millions of visitors to our national parks each year. This would not have been possible without thousands of Arrowmen volunteers, all willing to provide meaningful and lasting service to their country’s parks.