Highlands Boy Scouts help beautify HCLT’s McKinney Meadow in Cashiers

Highlands Boys Scout Troop 207 spent a warm-Saturday afternoon at the end of April planting azaleas at McKinney Meadow in Cashiers. Troop Leader Tom Herbert said the scouts are happy to contribute to their community and get their hands dirty in the process.

Highlands Boy Scout Troop 207 and some lucky scout parents with HCLT’s Grace McCant, Gary Wein, and Kyle Pursel at McKinney Meadow in Cashiers after planting azaleas.

“These guys like working outdoors,” said Herbert. “And scouting teaches them so many aspects of being a responsible adult. Like their own personal development, they can come back as adults and see how this park has developed and appreciate being a part of that.”

Boy Scout Peyton Narin loads some soil into a wheelbarrow when Highlands Troop 207 spent the day planting azaleas at Mckinney Meadow in Cashiers.

McKinney Meadow is approx. 2-acres managed by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust just south of the crossroads on Hwy 107 and Cashiers School Road. It’s an official stop along the Butterfly Highway, a statewide initiative to restore native pollinator habitats. HCLT Executive Director Gary Wein said McKinney is being managed as a wildflower meadow and with time and proper management, will be a cascading field of color.

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Executive Director Gary Wein explains that McKinney Meadow is unique that the water collects on one end because of the gradual slope. This gives the Meadow three habitats, wet, dry, and in-between making management tricky.

Before that color can bloom, Scouts (and their parents) had to reduce the amount of turf grass using a torch to make room for recently planted seeds by The Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau.

“We had to torch some of the grass and plants some seeds,” said Wein. “We’re managing this in patches. If we don’t do anything, this will become forest. We want to keep herbaceous stuff and not the woody stuff.”

From left are Highlands Boy Scouts Conor Thorske encouraging Brent Sleight to carry more on the next haul.

Weeks before Troop 207 visited the meadow, BGCP planted milkweed seeds and covered the newly planted patches with screens to keep the birds away while they took root. Read the original article on BGCP planting seeds at McKinney Meadow HERE.

Highlands Scout Connor Thorske said he didn’t mind the labor or spending the day improving the meadow by planting azaleas, plants that were relocated because of planned developments at High Hampton Resort.

“It’s pretty fun so far,” he said. “Plus, it’s good for the community to have something like this.”

After the rescued azaleas were planted at HCLT’s McKinney Meadow they needed to be watered. Pictured above are Scouts Brent Sleight (left) and Peyton Narin managing a minor hose malfunction.

Highlands Scout Brent Sleight what they are doing at the Meadow will help everyone, including future generations.

“It’s good because we’re helping make things pretty,” said Sleight. “It will be cool when I come back here in the future.”

Highlands-Cashiers Program Steward Kyle Pursel helps make way for azaleas rescued from future development.

HCLT Stewardship Coordinator Kyle Pursel and Americorps Member Grace McCants were on hand with Wein and the BS Troop. Scout Peyton Narin said he had a good time planting shrubs that are expected to grow 7-8 feet high.

“I think it’s cool because you see the effect you have on the area when we come back in the future,” said Narin. “And she (McCants) said it helps the bugs and the bees, so that’s good. Plus, we got to get outside.”

Two weeks after Highlands Boy Scout Troop 207 planted azaleas at McKinney Meadow.

McKinney Meadow located at the intersection of Highway 107 and Cashiers School Road and managed by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust.

Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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