New York: Why no one wants to go to Boy Scout Camp anymore

Jesse Owen had planned to return to Cedarlands Scout Reservation last
summer — until he saw the forest had been logged. “I just didn’t
really want to go anymore. It was ruined,” said Owen, 15, of Vernon,
N.Y. Cedarlands, a 5,000-acre Boy Scout reservation in the Adirondack
Mountains, is one of several camps the Boy Scouts of America have
logged in the northeastern states. Timber harvesting of 250 acres at
Cedarlands generated more than $80,000 in revenues in 2007 — as well
as shock and dismay among Scout volunteers. The Scout council says it
was a strategy to generate a healthy forest.

Last June, Scoutmaster
John Ivory and his troop discovered the surprise when they walked into
camp. Where narrow pathways once ran between campsites, machinery had
cut truckwide swaths. A forest had become a parking lot. Intimate
campsites had become open patches of ground covered with debris.
“There were stumps everywhere,” Ivory said. Council executives saw a
different view: good forest management that could generate new growth
and revenue for the camp, a plan years in the making. Forestry
consulting company Landvest had assessed the acreage and found many
trees stagnated and overcrowded. “One of the biggest reasons we’ve
done this is for the health of the project,” said Mark Miller, camp
committee chairman for the council. “We needed to help the forest
perpetuate.” But many Scout leaders felt the logging exceeded
selective cutting. “There was a disparity between what they said and
what they did,” Ivory said.

Nathan Gibb, the forester who wrote the
management plan, said logging was driven by campsite and forest
management concerns. But, he added, the cutting would not have been
quite as extensive if the council “had no income goals.” The financial
gains are obvious. The forest management plan estimates the council
will net a little more than $600,000 over 10 years. Now, revenues from
Cedarland’s timber harvest can fund camp improvements and fulfill a
vision of the camp Miller says the council never could afford. On a
visit to Cedarlands last June, Scouts were crawling up a new climbing
tower that had been erected in the midst of a large patch of cleared
land now barren with dirt. A new parking lot, also cleared last year,
and a headquarters under construction are among other camp
improvements under way. Today, financial benefits from logging are
just extras. In 2002, the council negotiated a conservation easement
with the state of New York for $2.9 million on the same property where
it now cuts trees. It was a good deal for the Scouts — they kept
ownership of the land as well as the right to harvest timber, and the
state was empowered to restrict development and control recreation. A
guarantee the land will not be developed was a welcome assurance to
Miller, the council’s camp chairman. But out of 5,000 acres, many
question why the logging targeted the base camp. “A lot of people are
like, ‘That’s the Holy Grail, you don’t touch that,’ ” Harper said.
But council members say the base camp area was one of the unhealthiest
on the reserve. Last July, the Sentinel campsite at Cedarlands was
sunny — in fact, it was opened up so much that the troop staying
there had to use an awning supported by metal poles because there
weren’t enough trees to hang their tarps. The landscape that greeted a
troop from Pennsylvania surprised their Scoutmaster. “It looks like
this site had a bomb go off,” he said.
To keep this blog going it has to keep growing!

What’s most essential is you click below to: comment, email, repost,
share this…

Leave a comment

Your comment