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Eagle Scout project benefits birds at Coleto Creek (w/video)

By Sara Sneath
Jan. 22, 2014 at 5:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

Joel Hencerling, 17, rolls tires from a pile into a neat row along the vegetation line on Bird Rook Island in Coleto Creek Park as he helps Tristan Freeman with his Eagle Scout project. The island is a nesting site for several types of birds each year.

Tristan Freeman, 17, of Victoria, stood on an acre-sized island in Coleto Creek Park on Saturday, squinting into the sun as a small, green motorboat brought volunteers to the island.

Once the volunteers stepped off the boat, Tristan set them to work building a barrier on the northwest corner of Bird Rook Island to halt erosion caused by waves built up from a steady north wind.

The island is off-limits to park visitors from February to August, when birds are nesting. But Saturday, water levels were low, and with no birds on the island, Tristan's group was able to line about 350 feet along the coast with used vehicle tires and unsold Christmas trees.

Tristan organized the work party for his Eagle Scout Service Project, a requirement for Boy Scout members to earn the Eagle Scout rank. He decided to take an environmental approach to his Eagle Scout project because of his previous conservation work with Order of the Arrow, a Boy Scouts honor society, and Camp Karankawa, a Scout camp located on Lake Corpus Christi, near Mathis.

Last year, the acre of land on the island was host to more than 1,000 nesting egrets, said Wilfred Korth, Coleto Creek Park manager. Korth said a white cloud appeared to linger over the lake as the birds made their way back and forth across the park for nesting material.

Tristan approached Korth in December in search of a service project, and Korth was more than happy to point out the need for a barrier on the island.

Korth, who is an Eagle Scout, said he's happy to offer Eagle Scout projects at the park. Korth has hosted more than 15 Eagle Scout projects since he started working at the park in November 1979.

"I think Boy Scouts are an important organization in helping develop outdoor skills," Korth said. "I want to help and encourage them to advance in rank in their Scout troop."

Charles Loya, Tristan's stepdad, said that although he is not an Eagle Scout, he was eager to help his stepson attain the honor.

"I'm all for helping keep this place from eroding so the birds will have a place to come," Loya said.

Wes Dodson, 15, of Victoria, is in Tristan's Boy Scout troop, Troop 364. He will soon organize his own Eagle Scout project.

The projects must be completed before the Scout turns 18.

"It's an accomplishment that not all that many people have," Wes said of earning the title Eagle Scout.

Tristan said he's always wanted to earn the Eagle Scout rank.

"It was a dream. I know it's a really high honor. I've been determined to get it," Tristan said.



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