A team of Troop 12 Scouts stepped up to save newly planted shrubs and trees at Empire Pond in northwest Eugene by forming an old-fashioned bucket brigade.
An early warm spring, combined with record setting summer temperatures, severely impacted the riparian plants along the banks of the pond. It just so happens the scheduled service project in early August came just days before a second heat wave hit with temperatures in Eugene soaring into the upper 90’s.
Scouts, armed with buckets and wearing galoshes, waded into Empire Pond and filled buckets from the murky water. The scouts then handed the bucket down the line to plants desperately needing water. Under the guidance of Kelsey Irvine, Native Plant and Waterways Volunteer Coordinator with City of Eugene Parks & Open Space, the scouts focused their attention on shrubs located at the northern end of the pond, since they appeared to have a greater chance of surviving.
“The root stock I still believe is going to be viable so even though the leaves are crispy, which is the first thing to go in a drought, we are watering the root system in hopes we will see re-sprouting in the spring.” said Irvine.
Many of the shrubs watered are the same shrubs that scouts planted in November 2020. In fact, the partnership with City of Eugene Parks & Open Space began in 2019, when nine Pack 12 Webelos Scouts signed up to plant riparian grass, shrubs and trees at Empire Pond. The young Cub Scouts, now BSA Scouts, are proud of their ongoing stewardship.
“It has been really great for me to help at Empire Pond over the last three years,” said Troop 12 Tenderfoot Scout, Andrew. “We make trips to the park to water all the trees and plants that we planted, and most of them are doing very well. I have high hopes that they will grow even better than before,” added Andrew.
Troop 12 Scouts cleaning up trash along the banks of Empire Pond.
Empire Pond, located off Highway 99 and Barger Road, was recently acquired by the City of Eugene Parks and Open Space from the Oregon Department of Transportation. Since 2015, the city has worked with the Long Tom Watershed Council to remove ludwigia, an invasive aquatic weed. With grant funding and volunteers, hundreds of riparian grass and shrubs have been planted to improve water quality, provide habitat as well as shade.