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Friday, March 20, 2009

Chesapeake scout leads tree planting effort at Great Dismal Swamp Refuge

CHESAPEAKE – Almost 5,000 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp was burned by wildfires last year.

The fires destroyed trees and habitat for the wildlife that live there and too many fires threatens the balance of life.

"In the last five years, we've gone from 300 acres to 500 acres to now almost 5000 acres," Refuge Manager Chris Lowie notes.

He says the changing climate may be partially responsible for the increase.

Working to become an Eagle Scout, Matt Dennison of Chesapeake has raised $500 to purchase 1,000 native Atlantic White Cedars.

On a wet, chilly Saturday morning, armed with planting tools and the trees, the Chesapeake teen, along with scouts volunteering from Troop 234, hiked deep into the swamp.

For hours, the scouts planted tree after tree.

Dennison looks forward to the efforts paying off as animals build new homes and start new habitats.

Lowie says, without the scouts’ project, some of the land might have been left a charred wasteland.

"With Matthew stepping up getting donations, coming out here and planting trees for us. That's an area we probably wouldn't have done. We would have let it go naturally and see what would happen. And we don't know what would happen. But now, with these trees, we know we have a head start on the restoration process," Lowie says.

Dennison and the scouts are taking contributions so they can buy and plant more trees in the refuge.

Read here

The painting is by Denise Sydenham

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