Daniel Barnett found the project he was looking for to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Thanks to his ecology trail project, people can now immerse themselves in the scenic landscape that lays almost hidden behind North Branch Area High School. The winding, wood chip path is designed for walkers, bicyclists and even some strollers to enjoy the diverse collection of natural growing trees, wetlands and wildlife that live and play there.
Barnett, a Boy Scout with Troop 141, said he got the idea from a teacher at the high school, where he is a member of the senior class that will soon graduate. In the fall, he plans to attend Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he looks to study computer engineering.
Under sunny blue skies Monday, April 21, he spent the better part of his day off from school working on the trail with a team of 23 peers, family and a few professionals who prepared and hauled in the wood chips by pickup truck. Because the school district didn’t allow the use of power tools, the group counted on axes, rakes, loppers and their physical labor to clear brush and prepare the path route. They picked up litter, which likely arrived with the wind, along the way.
The trail had been a rough path that people used for years, but by developing it as an ecology trail with a natural, untreated surface, Barnett figured it would make a good Eagle Scout project. His father, Bob Barnett, who leads Troop 141, agreed that it fit the criteria of being beneficial to the community.
Once the path was ready for the wood chips, Daniel Barnett and team started shoveling them into wheelbarrows and began to layer, section by section. They did as much as they could, as they didn’t have enough chips to cover the entire trail, but they completed the intended project that afternoon.
On the untouched portion of the trail, Bob Barnett noted there’s something to be said of keeping it in its original, natural state.
As for the path’s ongoing maintenance, soon-to-be college student Daniel Barnett hopes it presents an opportunity for another Scout or youth group.
Meanwhile, he’s in the process of completing the required paperwork involved in having his project approved for the Eagle Scout distinction.