Sunday April 14, 2013

LEE -- In a thickly wooded town park on Saturday, Boy Scout Devon Atwell teamed with two other scouts from Troop 3 in lugging a 25-foot tree limb to a burn fire as they removed debris from a town park trail on Orchard Street.

The tree limb was imposingly larger than most others they'd seen, but it would end up charred ash by day's end like so much other debris there.

"Our muscles are tight, but after lunch break we'll go back out there and go full power," Atwell, 13, said.

The town park, spanning several acres near St. Mary's Church, received a makeover thanks to around 10 scouts, who cleared debris from a spring 2011 storm, and one Lee resident who pushed for the cleanup.

The park is located behind private property on Orchard Street and is adjacent to St. Mary's Church. It's also accessible from Roberts Street. The park, thick with trees, offers a refreshing elevated view of Lee.

Lee resident Valerie Bluhm, of 75 Orchard St., advocated for the park cleanup. She said she knew the park behind her home was a true community gem when she took the half-mile walk up to its elevated peak. However, several uprooted trees, giant tree limbs and other debris had gathered in the area.

Bluhm said she went to the Conservation Commission and Town Administrator Bob Nason and received approval to proceed with a cleaning. She recruited Troop 3 to help.

Scout Master Chris Johnson gladly signed on.


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He said the Boy Scouts do monthly projects that must "give back to the community."

Atwell said the work started early Saturday morning and continued through 4 p.m. The Boy Scouts slept out in tents in the park, enjoyed a breakfast of fried eggs and mini bagels, and then got to work.

Atwell, a second-class scout, had participated in other burn projects, but this was a tall task.

"This was much longer and we cleared a lot more brush. It was a lot more successful," he said.

Boy Scout Gus Free, 11, admitted he was tired after starting the cleanup around 9 a.m., but he said he was ready to return after lunch.

Throughout the day, he'd been dragging tree limbs and twigs up and down the park's hiking trail. There was plenty of brush-cutting and the occasional sword fight with large tree limbs. There was no shortage of firewood.

"I think it looks a lot better than when we got here," Free said.

Bluhm said she was content with a clear trail by Saturday afternoon. Long-term, she said she'd like to see a committee oversee the park's long-term maintenance.