By Col. Wayne ShanksJanuary 30, 2012
CAMP BULLIS, Texas -- Scouts teamed with staff from Camp Bullis to prevent erosion and learn about the environment here Jan. 21.
Approximately 40 scouts and parents from Cub Scout Pack 500 moved two huge piles of mulch to build up roughly 25 percent of a 1.35-mile hike and bike trail near the cantonment area of Camp Bullis.
Led by Bryan Hummel, a natural resources technician from the 502nd Air Base Wing's Civil Engineering Squadron, the scouts used wheelbarrows, rakes and shovels to spread mulch and build up the downhill edges of the trail to prevent erosion.
"The mulch is important to build up the soil and make a nice path for Soldiers to use," said Hummel.
He described "water ranching" techniques to the group, showing how to slow erosion and keep a drop of rain where it falls. "By slowing the water in the uplands, the water soaks into the limestone hills, where it helps to recharge local groundwater and aquifer systems," Hummel said.
Sandra Drabik, a scout parent, said that the project was great to get the boys outdoors and worked to channel their energy.
"What boy doesn't like to play in the dirt?" she added.
Hummel explained the importance of not littering to the boys and adhering to the scouting principle of "leave no trace."
He also pointed out how native grasses and wildflowers slow erosion and provide a food source for pollinators that, in turn, help to preserve the training lands for the military. He showed them how various wildlife also used the area, pointing out turkey vultures, squirrel nests and feral pig damage.
Ben Kruse, 12, a Boy Scout from Troop 475 and den chief for Pack 500, said the project was all about having fun and sticking to the path.
"It helps prevent erosion by keeping the dirt from washing away," he explained.
When asked what they had learned, many hands sprang into the air and Hummel called on them one by one.
"I learned how to use a wheelbarrow," the first boy said.
"Water runs downhill!" shouted one scout.
Another said he learned how to make a dam out of mulch to keep the rain from washing everything away.
"Everybody can help!" a third exclaimed.
"Falling on mulch hurts and is dusty," another added.
Hummel said the mulch was recycled from trees that had died in the recent drought and may have caused hazards for troops training.
The day began with a few hours of hard work, with many hands working together towards a shared goal, but ended with several young minds more aware of how to protect the environment thanks to the dedication of the Camp Bullis natural resources staff.
"Camp Bullis is an amazing resource for San Antonio," Hummel commented.