Scouts plant trees for bird habitat

FIRTH – Saturday was the day all of Dillan Udy’s planning for his Eagle Scout project came together.
Dillan and 15 members of Scout Troop 262 in Blackfoot, worked to plant 30 hybrid oak trees on the TF Ranch in Reid Valley. The objective of all this work is to provide winter habitat for wild animals, especially wild birds, in the area.
Asked why he selected this project he said, “I’ve always been interested in the nature end of scouting.”
“Dillan has done an excellent job organizing the planting of these trees,” said a nearby resident who wished to remain anonymous. “This is a win-win-win situation.”
Dillan said he has been working on this project about six weeks.  
The scouts planted Bur-Oak and hybridized Gambles Oak. They will produce acorns in about seven years, said Ed Bullock, president of the Southeastern Idaho National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
Members of the NWTF contribute the trees, sleeves and woodchips for habitat development. Scouts supply the manpower.
 “About 80 turkeys winter here,” said the nearby resident of the TF Ranch. “[These trees will] give them food in the winter as well as a place to roost.”
To plant the two- to three-foot trees, holes were dug or older trees that had died were pulled out to make room for the new starts.
Each tree was stacked and then a sleeve was put around it. The sleeve is three feet taller than the tree and is punctured with holes for air.  
The trees will grow three times faster because of the sleeve than they would if left to grow without the sleeve, Dillan said.
The sleeves also protect the starts from being eaten by the deer or other animals. They are photosensitive and will eventually disintegrate.
Wood chips were placed around the base of the sleeve to help to keep moisture around the roots of the trees and keep the weeds down.
It takes about seven years before the trees will produce acorns, Bullock said. The trees will provide habitat and winter enhancement for wild turkeys, pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and deer.
Dillan is the third member of Scout Troop 262 to earn his Eagle Scout award by planting oak trees for expansion of bird habitat.
“I was initially going to plant trees up Wolverine Canyon but it flooded,” he said.
After planting these 30 trees on the TF Ranch, the total number of trees that have been planted in southeastern Idaho by the NWTF totals 1,350.
“We’re always looking for more Scouts to plant more trees,” NWTF president Ed Bullock.
If interested, contact Bullock at (208) 241-0318.