September 19, 2012
by Simon Hansen
In 2002 portions of our forest that were Pine Trees were devastated by the Pine Bark Beetle. The Beetles destroyed over 90% of our Pines. Then in 2003 the forest was hit by the Cedar Fire. Camp was fortunate in that we did not have any buildings affected by the fire but our forest was in some serious trouble. With all of the dead and dry Pine Trees it was the perfect amount of fuel to keep the fire going rapidly through the forest. What remained resembled the surface of the moon! It was a couple of years before anything grew back at all.
Fast forward 5 years and we were fortunate enough to qualify for a grant from the California Department of Forestry. The grant provided us with approximately 6000 Pine Trees which were planted by volunteers on the Southern end of the property. We were told at this time that only about 20% of the trees would survive the dry summer and fall to come; so began the great Pine watering program.
Maintenance moved a large water tank to the planting zone and built hose bibs and ran 100's of meters of hose from the wells, OE staff broke and labeled the plant zone into different quadrants for watering and the kitchen gathered hundreds of milk jugs to be used as watering containers. 6th graders during Spring OE watered the trees, weekend guests watered the trees, summer campers watered the trees and slowly they began to take hold and grow.
Today it feels like we saved more than the 20% because of the watering. Many of the trees are growing strong and are on track to maturity. The Pines have survived and some are thriving. The watering program and the wet(ish) winters that we were fortunate enough to get over the last few years have helped a lot.
In 30 years the southern slopes of YMCA Camp Marston will once again be covered in beautiful Pine forest thanks to the hard work, generosity and determination of people that want camp to remain for future generations.