LAFAYETTE -- Twenty-seven Scouts from Lafayette's Troop 219 worked recently to install 10 nesting boxes for wood ducks at the Lafayette Reservoir. The project was led by 219's Justin Higgins, and not only was the service project that satisfied his service-hour requirements for his Eagle rank, but also offered a chance to earn the coveted Hornaday Award, Scouting's highest conservation award. In order to satisfy the Hornaday badge requirements, Higgins selected a project category focused on Fish and Wildlife Management that would help return wood ducks to the Lafayette Reservoir.
Higgins is the first Scout from the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council area to apply for the Hornaday badge in several years, said said Lillian Remer, the council's conservation director.
The absence of adequate nesting areas forwood ducks is the primary reason for the species' significant decline at the reservoir over the last few decades.
"I worked with park rangers, Rod Tripp and Greg Francek from EBMUD, and Sandy Ferreira, district manager of the California Waterfowl Association," Higgins said. "As part of my project, we built an additional 20 Wood Duck nesting boxes to be installed in the Delta, too."
The California Waterfowl Association sponsors many habitat projects benefitting waterfowl throughout the state, and specifically monitors wood duck populations and funds programs to help encourage this species.
Reservoir visitors looking to locate the nesting boxes can view them most easily by boat as they are generally within 20 to 30 feet from the shore. A wildlife biologist helped to establish each location as Wood Ducks tend to be somewhat territorial, and prefer privacy - hence the reason for their distance from the walking paths. Onlookers should be sure to keep their distance from the nesting boxes and not disturb the areas.
Higgins collected more than $1,500 of individual donations to fund the materials cost of his service project, and gives additional thanks to Dolan's Lumber Company for its Eagle Scout discount and Jeff Cronk, owner of Lloyd's Custom Woodwork, for providing access to his wood shop in Concord.
Information from Tyler Higgins of Troop 219