Girl Scout Caroline Dowd is helping to organize the project at Blackbird State Forest for her Gold Award in conjunction with the Delaware Forest Service and DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship.

Volunteers of all ages are needed March 17 and 18 to help plant 8,800 hardwood seedlings along the Cypress Branch at Blackbird State Forest to provide scenic beauty, enhance wildlife habitat, fight invasive species, and improve water quality in the critical Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The planting will also help Girl Scout Caroline Dowd earn her Gold Award.

The planting will take place rain or shine Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Blackbird State Forest’s Naudain Tract, 2076 Harvey Straughn Road, Townsend.

From Smyrna, travel north on Main Street which becomes Duck Creek Road north of town limits, then turn left on Vandyke Greenspring Road. Continue on Vandyke Greenspring Road for 4.4 miles and turn left onto Harvey Straughn Road. In two miles, bear left to stay on Harvey Straughn Road. Proceed for three-tenths of a mile to the planting site on the right.

From Townsend, travel south on U.S. Route 13 and turn right on Blackbird Forest Road. Go past the forest office and turn right on Vandyke Greenspring Road.Continue on Vandyke Greenspring Road for 4.4 miles and turn left onto Harvey Straughn Road. In two miles, bear left to stay on Harvey Straughn Road. Proceed for three-tenths of a mile to the planting site on the right.

Volunteers can stay for as long as they’d like.

Equipment, including shovels, will be provided. Volunteers are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather – wear boots or other work shoes, heavy-duty gloves and hats and bring insect repellent and sunscreen, if needed.

Snacks will be provided and commemorative patches and T-shirts will be given to both youth and adult volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis.

The project is a cooperative partnership between the Delaware Forest Service, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Division of Watershed Stewardship, and the Girl Scouts of the USA. The project also continues a proud partnership between local scout groups and state conservation agencies. In both 2012 and 2013, Boy Scouts planted 4,000 trees at Blackbird State Forest.

Funding for the trees is provided by a grant to the Delaware Forest Service from the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship. The restoration of riparian forests is a key strategy for improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay. The Cypress Branch in southwestern New Castle County is one of the headwaters for the Chester River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

The latest updates for the event are available on Facebook at Caroline Dowd’s Gold Award Reforestation and Riparian Buffer.