Boy Scout Eagle project targeted to expand on Rosemont Preserve’s teaching abilities.
By Mary O’KEEFE
Over the years, the Crescenta Valley has benefited from Boy Scout Eagle projects and Girl Scout Gold Award projects. From creating a welcoming garden at Pennsylvania Avenue and the Foothill (210) Freeway to the numerous gardens and murals around the area, these projects have enhanced the community.
Another local Eagle project is underway that will not only improve a well-known preserve, but will also help educate students on the importance of California wildlife and open space.
Brandon Loder is a junior at Crescenta Valley High School and a Boy Scout with Troop 390. For his Eagle project, Loder chose to help create an outdoor classroom at the Rosemont Preserve at the top of Rosemont Avenue.
In 2012, the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy led by the Friends of the Rosemont Preserve raised enough money, with the help of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, to purchase the 7.75-acre portion of the land above Rosemont Avenue. The idea for the preserve from the start was to establish a place where visitors could take tours and local students would learn about their natural surroundings, including California native plants.
Since its opening, there have been many clean up days at the preserve when volunteers and docents clear brush and help clear a trail – in fact there’s one this Saturday – but there was a need for a specific place to work with students within the preserve.
When Loder was searching for an Eagle project, he met with Richard Toyon, a member of the Friends of the Rosemont Preserve.
“We wanted to create an outdoor classroom,” Toyon said.
Boy Scouts have helped the Rosemont Preserve in the past with Eagle projects and providing general clean up crews. It seemed natural to partner with a Boy Scout to help with the classroom, but it was not an easy project.
Loder had to first work with Toyon on what was required and then create a plan.
“Then I had to present it to Friends of the Rosemont Preserve,” Loder said.
The project had several challenges including grading an area for a level classroom. Friends of Rosemont Preserve told Loder they wanted him to get the grading done first. Loder contacted several construction companies and one seemed to be on board but then backed away. He then went to the Dept. of Public Works and even the L.A. County Fire Dept., all in an attempt to get large equipment to grade the area; to hire someone would have taken thousands of dollars.
Toyon helped Loder contact public works and spoke to representatives to get help. There were several calls and emails trying to raise support.
“That was the toughest part – to step up and try to get ahold of the equipment,” he said. But Loder was tenacious.
“Brandon never gave up. He continued to contact everyone,” Toyon said.
“I had to learn to assert myself,” recalled Loder. “If they said they would call back [and didn’t], I would make sure I called them back.”
The hard work and follow through finally paid off.
“I got a text that the county would send some guys over to inspect and see if it was manageable [to grade],” Loder said.
After the inspection, the county, which was working in the vicinity, agreed to grade the upper area of the preserve. Now that it is completed, Loder is working on the next steps including getting seats and a podium.
Dying trees had been cut down in the area that is now graded for a classroom. Loder and Toyon are going to use the stumps of those trees to create amphitheater-type seating.
“We could use a large [stump] as a podium,” Toyon said.
In addition to seating, Loder has plans to bring water to the area.
“I spoke to Crescenta Valley Water District and they agreed to bring water,” he said.
His next challenge is to get about 100 feet of galvanized pipe. He is looking for a donation for the piping and for supplies to help the volunteers he will need when he brings the entire project together.
Toyon said with Loder’s help the new classroom will bring in more students and create more educational opportunities.
“We have had Mountain Avenue and Monte Vista elementary students here [in the past]” he said.
Anyone who would like to help Loder complete his project with galvanized pipe or donations can do so by calling him at (714) 721-2979.