GROTON -- The popular conservation trail along the Nashua River Bank in Sabine Woods, West Groton, is quickly eroding into the river and has caught the attention of Boy Scout Tim Wilson, who is planning to repair, restore and stabilize the areas for his Eagle Scout Project.
Wilson, 16, became aware of the erosion while attending the Groton Conservation Trust annual meeting. According to Bob Pine, trustee of the Groton Conservation Trust and chairman of the Land Stewardship Subcommittee, "This is a project that the trust as a whole had identified as critically important and we had already planned to begin working on it when Tim asked if the trust had an appropriate Eagle Scout project for him.
Wilson felt the erosion project would benefit the community and the Groton Conservation Trust. He researched his project, met with Pine for planning and wrote and submitted his service project proposal to John Dennis, West Groton Troop 1 Leader, receiving an approval.
"Tim did his own research and proposed the project. I'm really proud of the way he's taken this upon himself," said Fred Wilson, Tim's dad.
The highest award from the Boy Scouts of America, the rank of Eagle Scout is awarded when a Boy Scout has progressed through the ranks in the following order: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. A prospective Eagle Scout must also earn at least 21 merit badges and organize a leadership service project that benefits his church, community or school.
"These erosion areas have been caused by rising water levels, wind and by animals living in the area," said Wilson.
Working with Pine, director of environmental engineering at Pine & Swallow Environmental and board member of the Nashua River Watershed Association, Wilson plans to seed areas and then install erosion-control netting to protect the seeds as they grow and fill the areas.
Different types of native seeds will be used for different areas, depending mostly on wetness. Wetland plants will be seeded near the elevation of the river, upland plants at the upper elevations, and a mix in between. "We will also be planting what are called 'live stakes' in some areas. These are branches cut from certain wetland shrubs that can grow when stuck into a moist area," said Pine. The erosion-control fabric that will be put over the seeds is biodegradable.
"This will prevent more erosion damage to the embankment of the trail," said Wilson, who added, "If the erosion is not controlled, then more of the land will be lost and the trail might have to be closed."
Standing on the trail, Wilson and Pine pointed out several feet of damage to the river bank and the river itself in just the last few months where dogs run down the embankment and into the water. "This is important. There's damage going on; there's a serious issue and we have an environmental problem that is very real," he said.
Any plant that starts to grow gets knocked away with no chance for the bank to grow new plants and stabilize itself, according to Pine, "To some degree, this loss would naturally happen over time but very soon, these areas of erosion are going to cut more serious channels."
"Many people enjoy the trails for hiking and to walk their dogs, which adds to the importance of protecting this land," said Wilson. Wilson and Pine are asking people to be aware of and respect the work that is being done to the area over the bridge in Sabine Woods and to walk their dogs on a leash.
Eventually the path would have to be relocated if the river bank is not restored but Pine believes people will understand the importance of the ecological restoration process and Wilson's work to stabilize the bank areas. "The Conservation Trust was particularly pleased when Tim agreed to do this project because it does help to raise the public profile."
Wilson joined Groton's Cub Scout Pack 11 in 2007 at age 9. He has served as quarter- master, troop guide, assistant patrol leader and has earned merit badges for lifesaving, first aid, camping, swimming, environmental science, canoeing, communications and citizenship. Wilson has organized several community food drives to benefit Loaves and Fishes. He has organized troop camping trips and has attended Camp Wonocksett in Jaffrey, N.H.
Wilson plans to get started with his Eagle service project in late summer/early fall and have the project completed by October. Wilson is a junior at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, likes the outdoors and camping and plays the guitar.
To raise money to help fund his project, Wilson has organized car washes on March 31, April 21, May 19 and June 30, to be held at Prescott School, Main Street, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations will also be accepted.