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October 14, 2009 > Local scout protects the Bay

Local scout protects the Bay

By Simon Wong

Eagle Scout Indy Nelson, a 15-year old, is undertaking a public works project for the City of Hayward and, in doing so, will help conserve the ecology of San Francisco Bay. This venture also qualifies him and other scout troops, who participate in 60 percent of the project, for consideration for a William T. Hornaday award.

Hayward has 3,464 storm drain covers each of which has, or had, a marker that might be intact, damaged or missing. The markers ask the public to refrain from using storm drains as disposal conduits because they empty into the Bay. A drop of oil contaminates five gallons of water.

Nelson has enlisted the support of scout troops in the Tres Ranchos District, consisting of Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro and San Lorenzo, and Mission Peak District which comprises Fremont, Union City and Newark.

Part I of the two-part project entails visiting all the storm drains, as per the maps supplied by the City, to identify which require new markers. So far, this has involved two weekends (or four workdays).

Part II will entail fixing a marker to storm drain covers with a damaged or missing marker. The new marker is an aluminum disk, bearing the message "No Dumping, Drains to Bay" and is guaranteed under warranty for 30 years. As of October 3, 700 new markers are required.

Nelson contacted Lorenzo Smith, City of Hayward Maintenance Supervisor, and broached this project for the City. They agreed the venture which has been approved by Chris Terril, Tres Ranchos District Executive, Keith McColm, Tres Ranchos District Commissioner, and Bill Gardner, SFBAC Hornaday Award Counselor. It is the first district-wide environmental service project.

One of the eligibility requirements for the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal is to have completed at least four eagle scout-related projects. Nelson has gone the extra mile and will have completed seven, including the drain storm cover project, when he submits his work for consideration at national level. In 2008, there were three million scouts in the US, 50,000 eagle scouts and only two boy-scout recipients of the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal. If successful, Nelson would be one of the first to undertake a community, rather than a state park, project.

The City has received state funding for this project to purchase new markers, caulk guns and adhesive. The boy scouts' efforts will save the municipality tens of thousands of dollars. The survey alone will save $9,000.

"The good thing about a project of this scale is that different troops can network with each other. They'll tell their friends about what they're doing and help recruit other boy scouts to the project and other kids to become boy scouts," said Nelson's father. "Their participation is something they'll remember for the rest of their lives. Setting up registration in the Hayward Plunge parking lot has attracted the attention of passers-by and raised their awareness of the BSA and what it does."

William T. Hornaday awards are a series of awards presented by the Boy Scouts of America for conservation and ecology. Created by Dr. William Temple Hornaday in 1915 as the Wildlife Protection Medal, it encouraged wildlife protection and conservation of habitats. It was renamed in his honor when he died in 1937 and became a BSA award.

The awards are presented at several levels. The Unit Award Certificate, William T. Hornaday Badge and William T. Hornaday Gold Badge are council-level awards. The William T. Hornaday Bronze Medal, Silver Medal, Gold Medal and William T. Hornaday Gold Certificate are national awards.

Nelson is home-schooled and is a concurrent-enrolled student at Chabot College where he is taking six units of study. He hopes to have 48 units when he turns 18. After that, he will need 12 more for his Associate of Arts degree followed by four years of college and three years of law school.

Only two scheduled workdays remain for the Storm Drain Marker Project. For more information, contact Indy Nelson on (510) 342-6503.

Storm Drain Marker Project
8.30 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.
Saturday, October 17
Sunday, October 18
Registration at 24176 Mission Boulevard
(Hayward Plunge parking lot)
Hayward, CA 94544

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