Boy Scout organizes volunteers to save Greenbelt Lake bank -- Gazette.Net


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The southern bank of Greenbelt Lake received a much-needed restoration, thanks to a Boy Scout aiming for his Eagle rank.

Nehemiah Lawton, 16, a member of Boy Scout Troop 1657 of Landover, said he turned to his native city of Greenbelt, where he lived for 13 years, when he was looking for a project he could develop, organize and lead — one of the requirements for achieving Eagle rank.

“I wanted to do this at Buddy Attick Park because I was familiar with the area, and my family had been there a bunch of times, and so it felt natural for me to go do something there,” said Lawton, who now resides in Columbia.

Lawton was directed to Kristen Wharton, who works as a coordinator for Volunteer Maryland, a nonprofit organization that coordinates volunteer programs, with Greenbelt’s Department of Public Works.

Wharton of Greenbelt said Lawton contacted the department in December regarding environmental works projects that might need volunteers, and Wharton suggested Lawton consider the south shore of Greenbelt Lake at Buddy Attick Park.

Wharton said high pedestrian traffic in the area has killed off the native plant life in the area and without the plants to soak in the water and create a buffer, stormwater runoff was eroding the bank.

Wharton said Lawton organized volunteers and directed the planting native plants to hold in rainwater and curb erosion.

“He was a very active part of the planning and preparation of the project,” Wharton said.

Lawton recruited 36 volunteers from within his Scout troop, the Greenbelt community and other sources to do the work, and directed the June 1 effort.

“I reached out to people in Howard County, Baltimore County, Prince George’s County and my troop. I was able to put it on the troop’s website,” Lawton said.

The volunteers spent nearly four hours in the hot sun planting 500 native plants, he said.

“Using native plants, they weren’t hostile to the soil or the area, like before, and they were able to cohabitate with other wildlife and organisms that were already living there,” Lawton said.

Lawton said water from Greenbelt Lake makes its way to the Chesapeake Bay, and contributes to the bay’s health. “It’s a small lake, but it’s part of the bigger picture,” he said.

“They not only created something of beauty, but they also repaired that eroded bank, which feeds into the Chesapeake,” Wharton said. “It was really great. His Scout troop was very active and involved, and I think Nehemiah showed tremendous skill in organizing this.”

Troop 1657 Scoutmaster William Chin commended Lawton for his work.

“He’s a very responsible young man, very respectful,” Chin said. “I have nothing but praise for him and the work he does.”

Chin said the project is just part of Lawton’s application for Eagle Scout status, and the report from his project will be reviewed with other materials by the national Boy Scout organization for determination.

janfenson-comeau@gazette.net