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Eagle Scout performs honey of a service at county park

PLUM CITY--Honeysuckle's now choking off vegetation at Nugget Lake County Park near Plum City to a lesser extent, thanks to the efforts of Eagle Scout Candidate Josh Burg.

For his Eagle project, Burg and family and friends have rid the park of approximately 25 acres of its honeysuckle population--at least temporarily. His crews of 10-12 people held three work sessions of three-to-four hours each over a week in late May to do the work.

"A lot of the honeysuckle could be pulled up, but some had to be cut down," the 18-year-old said Tuesday of the nuisance plants.

Park Superintendent Scott Schoepp, who approved the project, said last week the evasive species is on the Department of Natural Resources' targeted list. It takes over and is prolific, like buckthorn, shading other plants and absorbing nutrients. Moreover, there's no natural predator to help remove it.

"It's primarily on the upper end of the park, but at the south end, too," Schoepp said, adding, "actually, it's closing in toward the middle."

Burg's crews did a good job of removal, he said. Yet, they only got one-to-two percent of the honeysuckle that's in the park, at most.

"We chose an area it was creeping into," he said, "trying to stop it from entering there."

Burg said his workers used a sawzall on certain areas and sprayed with a herbicide what they cut or pulled. The park provided the materials they needed, except for their gloves, which came from the Scouts.

Besides Schoepp, the board for the regional Scouting organization approved the project, the Eagle candidate said. He had to supply a plan for the job, in which he was required to show leadership and on which all participants had to log a combined total of at least 100 hours. He learned of the need while seeking a project suitable for Eagle requirements.

"The park's close by where we live," he said. "I used to go up there all the time when I was younger."

The project was assessed as part of his Eagle Scout Board of Review early this month, Burg said. A four-person panel including a member of the regional council, two from the local troop and another citizen asked him questions such as what he's learned in Scouting and for his opinion about Scout issues. He also had to submit related paperwork to the council for inspection by the organization's board.

The Plum City native joined Scouts when he was age 13, he said. His brother, Jonathan, was a Cub Scout and a new Boy Scout troop was being formed at the time. It numbered around 11 boys; Joe Kearns is the Scoutmaster.

One of his favorite activities was rappelling from cliffs when the troop camped north of Hudson, Burg said. Another memorable event was a canoe trip nearly 25 Scouts took to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota last summer. The group camped in that vicinity, too.

Twenty-one merit badges must be earned to be considered for Eagle, he said. He most enjoyed getting his cooking badge, done over a camp stove with other Scouts, though he had fun gaining his archery badge as well. His environmental science badge was his least favorite, as it meant "a lot of work."

The son of Ray and Michele Burg of Plum City said he's also been leader of a youth group, Plum City Teens for Christ. The 25 members have met weekly during the school year at his grandmother Julie's home, playing games and socializing. He was home-schooled into high school.

Presently, he's a second semester student at UW-Eau Claire, taking basic college classes, but starting some studies toward a five-year degree in accounting, he said. He's also working at McDonald's in Red Wing. In his spare time, he likes to play video games and use computers.

The Eagle candidate has a Court of Honor scheduled for early October at Living Waters Christian Fellowship in Ellsworth, he said. He expects the ceremony to represent different levels of Scouting, address Scout law and feature a speaker, among other activities. He's been to three of these events for fellow Eagle Scouts, he said.