Mammoth Cave National Park officials are pleased to announce the Boy Scouts of America (BAS) Troop 47 of Franklin, KY are the recipients of Interior Region 2 (South Atlantic-Gulf) of the National Park Service’s (NPS) George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The troop was nominated and won under the youth group category for their work in improving the Sal Hollow backcountry campsite.

“When Troop 47 first visited the Sal Hollow site, they found it in an unusable state,” said Acting Volunteer Program Manager, Liz Thomas. “Vegetation was overgrown, a large tree had fallen across the site blocking access to the fire ring, garbage was strewn about the area, and an unauthorized campsite had been created. The troop took the initiative to bag up and haul out several large bags of garbage, and then took their work a step further by contacting me when they returned home to begin coordinating an Eagle Scout Project for scout Alexander Woestman that would reclaim and restore the original campsite back to a useable state.”

The Troop removed dead and downed debris and garbage along a 4-mile section of trail, cleared the Sal Hallow campsite of downed trees and garbage, and dismantled the unauthorized campsite located outside of the campsite boundary. They worked with the park’s Cultural Resource Manager, Trails Coordinator, and Community Volunteer Ambassador to ensure the project was completed safely using the best methods to protect the park’s natural and cultural resources. Because of BSA Troop 47’s strong work ethic and passion to serve on our public lands, future visitors of the backcountry campsite will have the opportunity to enjoy a safer trail to the campsite and an improved camping experience.

Due to health and safety guidance surrounding COVID-19, a small in-person ceremony was held in Franklin, KY on Monday, August 17. The event was attended by members and leaders of Troop 47, their families, and Mammoth Cave Cultural Resource Manager Edward Jakaitis, and the park’s Community Volunteer Ambassador, Brenda Padilla. The troop was congratulated for their work and awarded with a plaque commemorating their achievements. A wristwatch was also given to Eagle Scout Woestman for his efforts on the project.

The George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service were established through a bequest from former NPS Director George B. Hartzog, Jr. and his wife, Helen. Both recognized the need to make it easier for citizens to donate, without compensation, their time and talents to the agency and dedicated time to the legislation that created the Volunteers-in-Parks (VIP) program. The Hartzogs remembered the NPS VIP program in their wills and made a generous donation to the National Park Foundation, which created the awards program.

Every year approximately 2,000 volunteers provide over 46,000 hours of service in a variety of activities at Mammoth Cave National Park including supplying visitor information, participating with special events, removing litter in the cave and along park trails, surveying and mapping new sections of the cave, maintaining backcountry campsites and trails, removing non-native plant species, and assisting campground staff as campground hosts. To learn more about the park’s volunteer program visit http://www.nps.gov/maca/getivolved/volunteer.htm.

-NPS-

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