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Boy Scout's Eagle project benefits bird-watchers at Tule Lake access area

Mitchell Henry stands between two of the 14 signs he made for the Tule Lake Public Access Area. Submitted photo
Mitchell Henry stands between two of the 14 signs he made for the Tule Lake Public Access Area. Submitted photo
Identifying and following trails at the Tule Lake Public Access Area is now easier for bird-watchers than toting lightweight binoculars.

Fourteen redwood signs have been constructed and installed at the public access area by Mitchell Henry, a La Grande High School senior. The signs replaced paper ones previously posted at the popular bird-watching site.

“This is a huge addition,’’ said Cathy Nowak, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist based at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area.

The signs Mitchell has made include ones that:

• provide an overview of the trail system of Tule Lake Public Access Area.

• list rules visitors must follow.

• show the routes of each of the area’s three trails.

The signs identify the Blackbird, Mallard and Pheasant loop trails, all of which had no names before Mitchell assigned them. By giving the trails names Mitchell is making it much easier for birders to describe where they were when make sightings, said David Bronson of the ODFW. Previously, people had to list distances when describing where they were when they saw something.

“Now they can say exactly where they were,’’ Bronson said.

Mitchell, a Boy Scout, created and installed the signs for for his Eagle project. His centerpiece is the master sign at the trailhead.

“That in itself is really wonderful,’’ Nowak said.

Bronson is so impressed with the master sign that he hopes to later get it covered with plexiglass to protect it from the elements.

“It is a beautiful work of art,’’ Bronson said.

That sign and others have mileage listings. People thus know which routes they and their family and friends can successfully traverse over the flat landscape.

“(The mileage markers) allow people to utilize the trails with much greater confidence,’’ Nowak said.

Mitchell, a member of Troop 514, created the the signs with wood donated by Miller’s Home Center & Lumber. The Boy Scout did electronic routing work for the project with the help of Paul Anderes, LHS agriculture, woods and forestry teacher. Mitchell, the son of Jeff and Sandy Henry, was assisted in the installation process by members of his troop.

Nowak also helped Mitchell on the project.

“They (Nowak and Henry) did an excellent job of working together,’’ Bronson said.

Bronson noted that the signs will help people get a good view of what is present at the site.

“It will help people understand what is there,’’ Bronson said.

The Tule Lake Public Access Area, which opened in 2005, is off of Peach Road about a mile north of Hot Lake. It is open to the public in the spring and summer.

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