By Amanda Sullivan
Fort Leonard Wood outdoor areas have been improved thanks to the efforts of two new Eagle Scouts. Aedan Brady and Christopher Ratliff recently contributed numerous service hours to improving a local trail and wildlife conservation.
Completion of Eagle Scout Service Projects is required to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest attainable rank within the Boy Scouts of America organization. The projects demonstrate leadership ability and service to the community.
Brady, a senior at Waynesville High School, improved safety and accessibility to Sandstone Spring/Rolling Heath Trail after severe storms damaged the trail.
“During my time in scouting, I have enjoyed numerous trails,” Brady said. “I realized that the Rolling Heath/Sandstone Spring trail had significant debris and damage from a severe storm during the Spring of 2017.”
Historic rainfall resulted in flooding along the Big Piney River in late April of 2017. The flooding left debris along the trail making the path difficult to navigate and potentially dangerous.
Brady’s love of the trails set him into action.
This wasn’t the first time Brady volunteered to improve this trail; he helped another scout with a similar project two years ago.
“I also assisted Adam Knell during his Eagle Scout project to add improvements to the trail during the summer of 2016. I did not want to see those gains diminished,” he said.
Using tools provided by the Fort Leonard Wood Department of Public Works, Environmental Division, Brady and several volunteers cleared debris and overgrowth along the trail. The project took a total of 40 hours.
“I personally invested 20 hours in planning and preparation. Five scouts, one friend, and two adults assisted with six work hours during a one-day execution event.” Brady said.
Ratliff, a Waynesville High School student, decided he wanted to help installation wildlife by building and installing bat houses to provide summer shelter to bats on Fort Leonard Wood.
“I selected bat houses due to the White-nose Syndrome affecting bats living in Missouri’s caves,” Ratliff said. “The houses provide shelter to bats in the summer time, which helps to prevent the spread of White-nose Syndrome among the caves in the area.”
With the help of six volunteers, including Brady, Ratliff built an arrangement containing four houses over the span of two days.
“The bat houses are located at the Piney Valley Golf Course,” Ratliff said. “I chose this location because it is nearby to some caves and a water source.”
White-nose Syndrome is caused by an invasive fungus and can lead to a 100 percent mortality rate in bat populations residing in contaminated sites. Bat houses help prevent cave contamination by offering an alternative roosting location.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the non-native fungus was first discovered in New York state 12 years ago. It killed 6 million bats within the first six years of its discovery. Since then it has continued to decimate bat populations at an alarming rate across the United States.
After completion of their projects, both Brady and Ratliff were awarded the rank of Eagle Scout at their Eagle Scout Court of Honor on May 11.