North Carolina camp recognized for sustainable forest management

In 2003, Old North State Boy Scout Council went out on a limb by hiring a professional forestry-consulting firm.

The partnership focused specifically on the council’s largest property: Cherokee Scout Reservation, a 1,700-acre camp situated in a lush hardwood forest in the north-central region of the state.

Thirteen years later, the seeds of this partnership are only beginning to blossom — from providing extra income to becoming the only Boy Scout camp to achieve the Model Forest distinction awarded by the Forest Guild.

David Halley, a certified forester, helped lead the council’s efforts to restore Camp Cherokee’s forest. This move involved a careful plan to cut and thin areas of the property suffering from poor forestry practices.

Halley worked closely with logging companies to harvest areas of the property. “We tried to save the best and cut the rest to reverse the previous high-grading trend,” he says.

The move resulted in more than $200,000 in timber income and Camp Cherokee becoming a certified tree farm in 2009.

The land is thriving and providing Scouts and visitors a first-hand look at the positive impact of responsible forestry practices. Colin Lemon, director of camping and STEM for the Old North State Council, says Scouts and visitors have an unrivaled setting for earning the Forestry merit badge and learning about sustainability.Camp-Cherokee-Cabins

Celebrating this success, the Forest Guild, a national nonprofit that promotes ecologically, economically and socially responsible forestry, recognized Cherokee Scout Reservation as one of 22 national properties (and the only Boy Scout camp) with the Model Forest distinction.

“Working with David has encouraged us to look at everything we do at camp and do it more sustainably,” Lemon says. For instance, the camp is building Adirondack-style cabins using timber from its own acreage.

Next up? Launching summer programs that educate Scouts and leaders on the William Hornaday award, including a program specifically designed for adult Hornaday advisor training.

Stay tuned for what’s sure to be more good things to come from Cherokee Scout Reservation at bsaonsc.org/csr.

And you can read more about the Boy Scout of America’s sustainability efforts at greentodeepgreen.org.

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