Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Fort Leavenworth Girl Scout Troop 5463 members are another step closer to earning their Tree Badge after helping Neil Bass, Directorate of Public Works natural resources specialist, plant 14 trees Oct. 24 near the Trolley Trail off Grant Avenue for National Public Lands Day.
National Public Lands Day was first celebrated in 1994 and is traditionally observed on the fourth Saturday in September.
“National Public Lands Day is a day where the National Environmental Education Foundation likes to promote the volunteer service of Americans to clean up, protect and improve their public lands,” Bass said. “It’s also a drive to get people out to know where their public lands are and enjoy their public lands and give them a chance to give back.”
Thanks to a $4,000 grant awarded by NEEF, Bass and 20 Girl Scouts planted two spruce trees, two red oak trees and 10 dogwood trees to help create a screen between the car wash and the historic trolley trail. The NEEF grant money is divided among Department of Defense lands as part of the DoD Legacy Resource Management Program. The grant will also go toward building a sign for the Trolley Trail.
“Besides being a screen, (the trees will) provide an aesthetic value,” Bass said. “They also produce oxygen, scrub the air of carbon dioxide, provide some soil stabilization next to the road and provide some wildlife habitat.”
Bambi Kline, Troop 5463 co-leader, said she hopes the girls learned teamwork in the process.
“I hope they learn about giving back without expecting something in return, and that they don’t always need to get something to give something,” Kline said.
Troop 5463 member Katie Moen, 13, said digging and planting was difficult at first.
“We ran into a lot of gravel at first, but once we got past that it was pretty easy to get (the tree) in,” Moen said. “It feels good to help the community.”
Troop 5463 member Ella Barry, 17, said it felt like a huge accomplishment after getting the first tree planted.
“It was much harder than I was expecting, but it feels really rewarding,” Barry said. “It’s going toward a bigger picture. It feels good to do something that’s going to help society and just the planet in the long run.”