Boy Scouts Have Busy Work Party at Seminary Hill

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About a dozen Boy Scouts and their adult leaders from Chehalis spent much of a Saturday in late January helping transplant ferns at the Seminary Hill Natural Area in Centralia.

The members of Boy Scout Troop No. 373 learned how to divide native ferns and plant them. They used these newfound skills to shore up a dirt hillside on the Indian Pipe Trail, which overlooks downtown Centralia. Other volunteers with our group had earlier cleared the hillside of invasive ivy, but that left it vulnerable to erosion. The solution was to put in some native sword ferns from elsewhere in the natural area.

First, Robert Godsey, a founding member of the 42-year-old Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area, helped us locate the plants to transplant. We marked them with red plastic spoons.

On the Friday before the scouts came, several members of the Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area dug up the plants, including about a dozen vine maple, snowberry, salmonberry and hazelnut trees. We put the plants in a wagon, hauling them across the natural area.

It was an adventure, up and down the muddy trails in the hilly forest.

On Saturday we taught the scouts how to divide the ferns (one fern can become several transplants).

They were fast learners and very energetic, easily dividing up at least 60 ferns in just a few hours. They also hauled a great deal of compost (provided by the City of Centralia) up to the hillside to help mulch the new plants as they were put into place.

One group would divide the ferns by chopping its roots in half; then, to keep from walking up and down the eroding embankment, they would toss the ferns to their fellow scouts who had dug holes in the hard embankment and planted them.

It was wild to see those ferns flying through the air like feathers.

They clearly had a lot of fun doing it — digging in the dirt and helping improve their community at the same time.

After planting the ferns, we found spots on top of the embankment to transplant all the shrubs: the salmonberries, the snowberry, the vine maple and the hazelnut.

We also got a kick out of a funny situation. Two of the scouts brought mismatched work gloves. One scout had two right-handed red gloves and one had two left-hand blue gloves. The simple solution: they swapped gloves. Their hands were correct, even if the colors didn’t match.

The amount of energy was impressive. We’re so glad to partner with the Boy Scouts. In the fall of 2021 the Scouts stripped English Ivy from 74 trees: a gigantic effort. We’re looking forward to other projects we can do with them down the road.

We’re grateful for these generous scouts and to their adult troop leaders: Jennifer Ervin, Scout Master Gary Mersereau, Keith Birchard and his wife, Ceci Hauer. We also want to thank and congratulate the parents of these fine young men, who bring their boys in from as far away as Rochester and Winlock to the Chehalis-based troop.

“We wanted to do the service project to help the community, get outside and have fun, but the scouts also need conservation service hours for rank advancement and their camping merit badge,” Ervin told us. “Many of the scouts there already had those hours and just wanted to help out.”

Our all-volunteer group is always looking for new people to join us in helping care for Centralia’s hillside forest.

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Judy Bell and Megan Berry are active volunteers and members of the board of the Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area. They can be reached at goseminaryhill@gmail.com. Reader-submitted news and feature items such as this can be emailed to news@chronline.com for consideration.