Camp Binachi is a Boy Scouts of America camp located in rural Lauderdale County, Mississippi, that focuses on teaching scouts about ecology and the conservation of natural resources. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused severe damage to Camp Binachi, which is managed by the Choctaw Area Council. But the council was able to get assistance from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to reconstruct the damaged areas.
Camp Binachi—Binachi means “beautiful camping site” in Choctaw—serves over 3,000 youth aged 11 to 17 in the East Mississippi/West Alabama area each year. The Choctaw Area Council harvests timber from the land, which was donated by a paper company, to fund the camp’s overhead and upkeep. Much of this land was devastated by the hurricane, and the council ended up having to clear-cut 118 acres of the 340-acre camp.
Longleaf pine has numerous environmental and economic benefits. Because it is native to Mississippi, it is well adapted to sandy soils low in nutrient content and is fire tolerant. It has a much longer growing season than other pine species, giving it time to add more oxygen to the atmosphere. Longleaf pine ecosystems provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, including endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise. The tree also provides a long and straight tree trunk for lumber.
Longleaf pines will be planted in the areas with suitable soil, and replanted after they are harvested, in about 40–45 years. The loblollies will be planted on the other sites, and harvested in about 30 years. The profits the harvesting and sale of these trees bring in will ensure the continued existence of Camp Binachi and its activities that enhance the lives of adolescent boys.
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