Oakley teens recognized for project
Jason Barto had worked on tree planting projects with area youngsters in the past. But when he was approached by two Oakley teenagers about a project two years ago, he never imagined what the result would be.
Caden Lassche, 17, and Jackson Lassche, 14, Lassche attend South Summit High School, but had grown up in Francis. The two brothers were working toward becoming Eagle Scouts and wanted to plant 18 trees in Francis’s community garden, located on Spring Hollow Drive.
"I have been constantly working to improve the community gardens in eastern Summit County," said Barto, the community forester at Wasatch Back Trees, a nonprofit organization. "So when they proposed the project, it was perfect."
Over the course of two years, the Lassches were able to secure approximately $22,000 in grants from the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and a Summit County tax program. The grants allowed the project to expand from 18 to 34 trees around Francis’ community garden and included the installation of a drip irrigation system.
"When the smoke finally cleared we had a project that was over 500 volunteer hours and we were very impressed with what was ultimately accomplished," Barto said. "Some adults would have had a hard time managing a project of this scope.
"They sort of rolled with the punches, worked hard and weren’t discouraged by anything that came along," he added. "They got it done. A majority of those grants were the result of the scouts pounding the pavement to free up more money to do more work in the park."
In a press release, Caden Lassche said "it felt good to do something for the community" he grew up in.
"They just built the town hall," he said in a press release. "It was kind of bare."
The Lassches were recently recognized as the "Citizen Foresters of the Year" for the project by the Utah Community Forest Council, which is a volunteer-based organization advocating for community forests throughout the state.
"It’s neat to see young people recognized for doing hard work, particularly in today’s day and age," Barto said. "We were extremely excited the boys won and we were just really impressed with the efforts. It’s not often a couple of teenagers can get together and help improve their community."
PJ Abraham, an area forester with the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said the Lassches "absolutely deserved the award."
"The boys carried out from start to finish the required tasks to complete a $22,000 grant, not including all the volunteer time spent in helping plant, install irrigation, and mulch the trees," Abraham said. "That’s quite an accomplishment even for adults.
"I felt this particular project was especially significant because it increased the town’s community forest by 57 percent," he added. "Francis City is headed in the right direction to promote an increase in its community forest, which will have multiple positive impacts within the city and for the citizens of the community. What I thought was special about this tree planting among other tree plantings I’ve helped with, is witnessing the community come together for a good cause."
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The only food pantry in Kamas closed its doors in May. Both it and its next-door neighbor, the former South Summit Fire Station, are slated for redevelopment. The pantry hopes to open a temporary location this fall.