Marking the way

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP – Thomas Page was having a little trouble coming up with an idea for his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout project, so he turned to his father, Bob, for help.

“My ideas were pretty limited,” Thomas said.

Bob Page said he suggested to Thomas he do something with trails on the 1,382 acres of private property associated with the Pilgrim River Watershed Project.

“We’re trying to get the public to use them more and use them safely,” he said.

Bob Page is a member of Copper Country Trout Unlimited, which is one of the partners on the PRWP, and it was because of that affiliation he knew about the need for marking trails on the property. The trails are obvious in the months without snow, but not so easily determined when there is snow on the ground.

“Blazing the trails with bright markers every 20 or 30 yards was important,” he said.

The Pilgrim River Watershed Project formed in 2009 and consists of Copper Country Trout Unlimited, the Keweenaw Land Trust, Partners in Forestry, Copper Country Audubon, Northwoods Alliance, Keweenaw Trails Alliance and the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District. The property is owned by the Wisconsin-based Hovel family, who are actively timbering it.

Thomas, who is a member of Troop 209 in Ontonagon, said it was actually Bill Leder, Copper Country Trout Unlimited board member and PRWP Fundraising Committee chair, who made a specific suggestion about what to do with the trails.

“He knew what needed to be done,” Thomas said.

Thomas said his project involved placing signs on trails cleared by the Keweenaw Trails Alliance. One trail was 2.5 miles and a second trail was a 3.5-mile loop.

In June 2012, Thomas said he did a personal survey of the north 2.5-mile trail before coming up with a plan.

“I went bike riding out there,” he said.

However, Thomas said before even getting to the plan stage, the idea had to be approved.

“The Boy Scouts require a pre-plan proposal written up,” he said.

The plan included a map of the site, also, Thomas said.

Thomas said his project involved placing six posts along the trails. There is a box on top of the posts, which hold a weather-proofed sheet of paper with information about the trail and a direction marker.

The holes for the posts were dug with a manual post hole digger, Thomas said, but the soil was relatively free of rocks.

“It wasn’t that bad,” he said.

Bob Page said the posts weighed 80 pounds each, and Thomas carried them to the trail on his shoulders.

Thomas said the sign posts were made with the help of Cub Scout Webelos Pack 201, which allowed them to get their craftsman activity pin.

Besides the posts with trail maps and information, Thomas said he marked various tees with blue paint for trail blazing.

Thomas said part of the requirements for his Eagle Scout project was to recruit workers and to oversee their efforts. He had other troop members, friends and family members working on placing the sign posts. There were three adult leaders, including two scout masters.

Another part of his trail-marking project included making a map of the trails.

“I did a whole lot of things at the same time,” he said.

Thomas said he presented his report to a Eagle Scout board of review, and he expects he’ll get his badge during a ceremony sometime in the spring.

Bob Page said he’s proud of Thomas’ effort on the project.

“I think he did a phenomenal job with it,” he said. “It’s a perfect addition to the already terrific trails there.”