Girl Scouts 95 Years and Planting

Girl Scout Statue

Last Saturday, my youngest daughter and I attended an Oklahoma Centennial Event in the heart of Edmond. It was to celebrate our state along with ninety-five years of Girl Scouting in Oklahoma. This statue, of a girl scout planting a tree, was created by Shan Gray and was unveiled during the festivities. For those of you who live close to Edmond, it is located in Mitch Park behind the softball fields and in front of the pavillion. Mitch Park is at the intersection of Covell and Kelly streets.

I wanted to know more about the statue so I contacted Susan Bohl, Service Unit Director for the Trail Blazers Service Unit. The statue cost $25,000, and Susan told me that the girls themselves raised a lot of the money.

“We sold bricks, had car washes, a huge garage sale, a mother/daughter chocolate dreams event, handed out flyers, and partnered with Papa John’s, Panera Bread and Abuelo’s to have Girl Scout fundraising nights at their places of business.”

When the Girl Scouts approached the artist, he said that he only created statues that told a story. That got them thinking about what kind of story they wanted to tell.

“Since this is the 95th year of Girl Scouting and GSUSA has an nationwide effort going on to plant more than 30,000 trees across the country, we decided that was the story we wanted. This bronze lets people know that Girl Scouts have civic responsibility as well as a focus on our environment,” says Bohl.

For my part, the entire day was a blast for our Brownies. We made swaps that reflected historic events or products of Oklahoma. (For those who don’t know, swaps are handmade pins that girls trade.) There were sack races. There were speeches. A Native American dancer from the Muscogee Tribe performed.

I know that the theme of the event and the statue is “Girl Scouts 95 Years and Planting,” and I now know of the statue’s environmental message, but I also think of Girl Scouts as planting seeds for the future and in growing girls who take their responsibilities for the environment and their community seriously. These girls certainly did.

A bronze tree will be added to the statue in 2008 to coincide with Girl Scouting’s birthday. Donations for the rest of the statue will be accepted through November 30th.

The Eastern redcedar menace

Eastern Redcedar
Eastern Redcedar

Sounds like a 50’s B-movie just in time for Halloween.

In my wildfires post, I discussed the fire danger posed by cedars and promised you more information. Not long ago, like most rural residents, I considered cedar trees to be weeds that appeared on my acreage and in my flower beds. Irritating, but not dangerous. I changed my mind when I realized how invasive they are.

The Oklahoma Redcedar Task Force was formed in 2001 to come up with some solutions to this ever growing problem (pun intended.)

Per the task force’s report published in 2002, although there are five different native junipers in Oklahoma, the one causing most of the problems is the eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana.) The other natives are Ashe juniper (Juniperus ashei), oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma), Pinchot juniper (Juniperus pinchotii) and Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum.)

As gardeners living in a dry state, we’re always thinking about drought tolerant native plants. We’ve embraced gallardias and bluestem grasses, but native isn’t always a good thing. Cedars suck. Literally. In the summer, a mature redcedar consumes up to 30 gallons of water a day. That water is diverted from hardwood trees like oaks because cedars sprout underneath the hardwood’s canopy, and later, starve it of water.

Redcedar smothering an Oak tree
Redcedar smothering an Oak tree

But, why you ask, is a native plant so out of control? It’s the lack of fire. Being a child of the 60’s, I am a Smoky the Bear fan, but the Great Plains were always prone to fire. Lightning strikes and controlled burning by Native American tribes kept the cedars in check. When Oklahoma was opened for pioneer settlement in 1889, land use was changed, and fire, which controlled the cedars, was nearly stopped. We created the perfect environment for cedar encroachment.

According to the task force, by “. . . 2013, 12.6 million acres will be infested with at least 50 trees per acre, and 8 million acres will be covered with at least 250 trees per acre, creating a 74% loss of native prairies, shrublands, cross timbers forests and other forested ecosystems (Oklahoma State University Rangeland Ecology and Management 2001).”

If all of this isn’t enough reason to grab a chain saw and get after it, there are two other reasons I hate cedars. They carry the spores of cedar apple rust, and I have five apple trees. I’ve planted disease resistant varieties like Enterprise and Liberty, but they still suffer. I’m also really allergic to cedar pollen.

But all is not lost. Since the report was published in 2002, there has been some improvement. The Aromatic Cedar Association was created “to provide information regarding the management and utilization of “aromatic cedar” . . . “[to] connect businesses, individuals and government agencies together to promote and develop the eastern redcedar industry.” The redcedar industry has sprung up much like the trees themselves. Trees are now harvested and used for cedar oil, fence posts and lumber. Other entrepeneurs have improved devices to rid farmers and ranchers of the trees.

Two brothers from Hinton created their own saw for tree removal after the one they used was inadequate. Their invention, the Dougherty Tree Saw, won a 2004 Journal Record Innovator of the Year award. I’m impressed.

Word is beginning to get out about the cedar menace, and you, dear reader, are instrumental in spreading the news. So, get out there, and let others know that if they’re not vigilant, a cedar tree may soon be marching toward you. Just like in the movies.