Scouts Honor

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2008

Two years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers at the Demopolis Lock and Dam site began construction on an environmental trail meant for walking, biking and recreational use by the public. Since then, the trail had become overgrown, unauthorized vehicles had left ruts in the trail and shortage of funds had kept the Demopolis site office from maintaining it properly. This is where 12-year-old Dylan Smith knew he could help.

Several months later, he has become intimately acquainted with each rock and crook in the path. With over 118 hours of work and help from family and friends, Smith completed his efforts to revitalize the trail, earning him his Eagle Scout distinction.

Although he is only 12 years old, Smith said knew he wanted to get his Eagle Scout as quickly as possible. His determination made him the first in Troop 225, which is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to become an Eagle Scout.

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His efforts were recognized with a ceremony known as the Court of Honor, which was held on March 8. Gary James, branch president, presented him with the Eagle charge. His father and troop leader, Sean Smith, presented the Eagle awards.

Now that he has completed his service project and been given this traditional ceremony Dylan can now help with the junior boy scouts. This is of particular interest because he has three brothers: Elias, 6; Benjamin, 5; and Joshua, 4. His rank will also allow him to do more Boy Scout activities, like go on white water rafting trips.

When Dylan set out to do his project in July 2007, his original goals were to lay down gravel, cut back weeds from trail, fill in ruts, remove fallen limbs and trees, install blue bird and wood duck bird houses along trail, install culverts and add potential directional signs.

Now, the path is cleared, fresh gravel is in the place of ruts and birdhouses dot the trees in the trail. Although the directional signs were not installed during his work with the trail, they will eventually be a part of the trail.

According to Brandon Smith, natural resource management specialist for the Corps of Engineers, the trail was always intended to be an interpretive trail, which involves having signs and other educational aids so the general public can learn about the wildlife and species along the trail.

The Corps of Engineers began doing resource conservation projects because they owned so much land for waterway navigational purposes that they decided to make them more accessible for recreational use. But these projects are always tempered by the volume and availability of volunteer organizations.

In addition to his most recent undertaking, Dylan has been an active Boy Scout member, which has earned him 21 merit badges. His most memorable badge was for entrepreneurship, which he says is something he hopes to do when he grows up by being involved in his own business.

Dylan is a seventh grader at Collins Riverside Middle School and is the son of Sean Smith of Demopolis and Colette Peters of Tuscaloosa. His grandparents are Roger and Sherry Smith of Montgomery and John and Marlene Stevens of Tuscaloosa.