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Vandals destroy Eagle Scout project at Bob Jones Nature Center

10/11/2012 11:43 PM

10/12/2012 7:44 AM

SOUTHLAKE -- Boy Scout Colton Williams has worked for three months on a restoration project that would ultimately help a much-traveled trail heal itself by limiting foot traffic.

His Eagle Scout project involved closing off two small eroding trails behind the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve in Southlake. The trails were fenced off to keep hikers and horses away, and signs were posted: "Restoration Project. Please Stay Off Trail."

Trail users were directed to alternate paths.

Signs were also installed to show that the work was being done by Boy Scout Troop 928. Colton and about 25 other Scouts finished the work Saturday, tallying some 135 hours on the project.

But over the weekend, vandals tore apart the project, cutting fences, mangling poles and ripping down the signs.

"It was very disappointing to work hard and try to restore nature, only to see it destroyed," said Colton, 13, an eighth-grader at Dawson Middle School.

To do the project, Colton had to get approval from Southlake and the Army Corps of Engineers. He raised money for the work by mowing lawns and asking for donations from family and friends.

The damage was reported to the police this week.

"The case is under investigation," Southlake police Lt. Cynthia Tripp said.

Because the damage was estimated at $600, the case is being treated as criminal mischief, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in county jail and a $4,000 fine.

Colton and other volunteers won't let the vandalism deter them.

They plan to begin rebuilding the project this weekend. Anyone who wants to help is welcome to show up at the trails, said his mother, Patricia Williams.

In the meantime, the Williams family hopes that police will learn who was responsible.

"This is not a kid vandalism thing," Patricia Williams said. "This is something they used wire pliers for. They pulled out logs and pulled out metal poles."

Emily Galpin, executive director of the Bob Jones Nature Center, said she discovered the vandalism about 5 p.m. Monday.

"I was just appalled," Galpin said. "They had put so many hours in."

Galpin said the work involved putting up fencing, moving logs and rerouting trails. It was important because the eroded areas must start "healing."

Patricia Williams said she wants the culprits to understand how much work the teens put in.

"It is such a shame that people, instead of making a grievance with the city if they do not like something, resort to vandalism," she said.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675

Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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