Scouting out tough plants

More than 30 volunteers donned work gloves and grabbed shovels Saturday morning to fill a barren strip of dirt on Rosemont Avenue in front of the Rosemont Reservoir with a variety of drought-tolerant plants.

The volunteers were led by 13-year-old Johnny Blood, who organized the planting for his Eagle Project, a community service project meant to help Boy Scouts develop leadership skills.

“My school’s right there,” he said, pointing to nearby Rosemont Middle School. “And this land has been all dirt for years.”

So in April, Blood began efforts to seed the land with California-native plants, which would beautify the area while also serving as an educational display of landscaping that residents can use in light of mandatory water restrictions imposed by the Crescenta Valley Water District.

Under the restrictions, irrigation is limited to two days a week, and water officials urge residents to consider drought-tolerant plants as an alternative to water-guzzling grass.

The water district and the Crescenta Valley Town Council partnered with Blood on his project, which they said would provide a valuable educational resource for the community.

“We’ve been getting lots of complaints about the restrictions,” said Crescenta Valley Water District board member Kathy Ross, mid-planting. “One solution is to replace what you’re watering. This is an example of what you can do.”

Along with the variety of California-native plants, such as manzanita, California holly and California lilacs, Blood incorporated wood posts with metal placards to identify each plant to passersby.

The water district paid to have a drip irrigation system installed to help the new plants take hold, but the plants and placards were all paid for by Blood’s fundraising efforts and donations from the community. On Saturday morning, Blood, wearing his Eagle Scout uniform, ran back and forth on the sidewalk directing volunteers as to how they could help.

“He had so many people show up,” said Blood’s father, David Blood. “He’s trying to keep them all busy.”

Some dug holes, while others prepared the plants. At one point, a group used a pick-up truck to pull an old plant’s roots’ from the ground, which once successfully removed drew cheers and applause.

Demonstrating leadership skills is an essential part of the Eagle Project, said Blood’s former Scoutmaster Vent Hansen.

“We’re supposed to do the work,” Hansen said. “But he’s supposed to tell us what to do.”

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