B U F F A L O N E W S
Residents get opportunity to enjoy nature as teen soars to the rank of Eagle Scout
By EMMA D. SAPONG
News Northtowns Bureau
From April to August, the 16-year-old junior at Grand Island High School worked to transform a makeshift path in a thickly wooded area at the former Nike missile base into a safer, better defined nature trail, complete with signs and benches.
And his efforts met the requirements for the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. Only 5 percent of Boy Scouts achieve the rank of Eagle, for which 21 merit badges must be earned. He has been a Scout since he was 11.
"I've always loved animals and nature and stuff like that, so I decided for the trail for my project," he said.
The area, off Whitehaven Road, has a creek and a large wildlife population and is packed with cherry, maple and white oak trees.
Casey, with assistance from his father and Boy Scout Troop 510, trimmed tree branches that crowded the path and created markers, as well as entrance and exit signs, with maps of the trail. The project also included building four benches and making 500 brochures to promote the trail.
"It wasn't a lot of hard manual labor; it was really just the planning of every detail," he said. "I know a whole lot of people actually know about the trail now. Before, not many people knew that it even existed."
Linda Tufillaro, the town's director of recreation, said Casey's work has improved the quality of life for residents with the addition of a new recreation alternative. The 1.2-mile path was relatively unknown, she said, and covered with a lot of brush and tall weeds. It attracted adventurous types, she noted, but they often would get lost.
"If I would have plopped you out there, you would think you were in the Southern Tier or somewhere," Tufillaro said. "It's now more negotiable, and seniors can get back there without a problem. You can distinctly see where you are going. It's an added safety. People are now calling and asking about it because of the brochures."
She added that hiking, walking and snowshoeing are now popular activities on the trail.
Casey recently received his Eagle Scout badge and a plaque of appreciation from Tufillaro and her department.