Montclair Scout Beautifies Bonsal Wildlife Preserve For Eagle Scout Restoration Project

Volunteers working on Eagle Project with Logan.

Montclair, NJ – Logan Bateman of Montclair Troop 13 completed his Eagle Project, the Alonzo F. Bonsal Trail and River Restoration Project, on July 23, 2022.

A lifelong Montclair resident, Scout and outdoorsman (and a Captain of the Montclair High School Crew Team who has spent countless hours on the Passaic River), Bateman wanted to protect and preserve this community landmark and in particular, the Third River, an important tributary to the Passaic.

Despite the heat, he led a group of 30 volunteers including fellow Scouts, Montclair High School Rowing Teammates and friends and family in the Community in building four walking bridges and planting 40 native trees throughout the Bonsal Preserve.

Logan with members of Troop 13.

“The walkways will open up the trails for exploration and make the Preserve a safer and more enjoyable space for members of the community, and the native plantings will help fight against invasive species, improving the water quality of the Third River which flows through the Preserve and into the Passaic,” says Bateman.

To kickstart the project, Bateman reached out to Jonathan Grupper, president of the Bonsal Wildlife Preserve Conservancy, to better understand the needs of the Preserve and areas where he could look to protect and nurture the integrity and ecosystem.

“It takes the energy and investment of the community for the Preserve to thrive,” says Grupper. “But Logan and his team went above and beyond. We’ve now got Bonsal 2.0 thanks to him and Troop 13.”

A Hidden Wilderness

Just 15 miles west of New York City, the Alonzo F. Bonsal Wildlife Preserve is one of New Jersey’s best-kept secrets. The 21-acre Green Acres site is a hidden wilderness and wildlife sanctuary that straddles and joins the Township of Montclair and City of Clifton. Skirted by the Third River and bordered on two sides by additional forests maintained by the North Jersey District Water Supply, the Preserve provides haven for a variety of animals and plants rarely seen amid the suburban sprawl of New Jersey. A looped, two- thirds mile long nature trail takes visitors on a picturesque journey along the river, through lush woodlands and wetlands.

As part of the planning process, Bateman worked closely with Grupper, Friends of the Preserve Conservancy, Executive Members of the Nature Conservancy of New Jersey, the Montclair Township, Department of Community Services and Boy Scout Council on all approvals and details of his proposal including the location of walkways and trees as well as species of native trees and building materials.

Logan with Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis.

“I’m really happy with the outcome of the project and proud of what we were able to accomplish together. But I could not have done any of this without the wonderful guidance of Mr. Grupper at the Preserve and Ms. DiBlasio at the Nature Conservancy who helped me with all of the important up-front planning needed to ensure the best long term, outcome,” says Bateman. “I also want to thank my Scout Leaders, Councilman Peter Yacobellis and all of our volunteers from Troop 13, the MHS Crew Team as well as my family and friends who came out to support and to Major Hardware in Cedar Grove and all of our friends in the community for their generous donations. As a Montclair Scout, rower, builder and lover of the outdoors, it was important for me to do my part to protect this neighborhood treasure for generations to come. I hope everyone will take the opportunity to visit the Preserve and enjoy some of our enhancements -– it’s really a special place!”

Even though the official project is completed, Bateman continues to visit the Preserve weekly to ensure trees are watered, growing and protected, especially given the extreme temperatures the state is continuing to experience during one of the hottest summers on record.

Native plantings.

The Eagle Scout rank is the highest advancement rank in Scouting where a Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges fulfilling requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor life skills. Only 5 percent of Boy Scouts achieve this prestigious recognition, and it culminates in the planning, approval and execution of an extensive community, church, or synagogue related Eagle service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, funds and executes. Thanks to the efforts of Bateman, Troop 13 and all the volunteers, visitors can enjoy a beautified Preserve for years to come.

Boy Scout Troop 13, a part of Northern New Jersey Council, has been operating since 1911 as a charter member of Union Congregational Church in Montclair and is one of the oldest Troops in the United States. Troop 13 continues to see growth year on year and is proud to celebrate 10 Eagle Scout advancements in 2022 alone. To learn more about Boy Scouts of America or for information on how to be a part of Troop 13, please contact Scoutmaster, Michael Bateman, at michael.lenapetrail@gmail.com.

Michael Bateman, Cathlin and Jonathan Grupper join Logan to celebrate Eagle Project wrap up.

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