Local Scout works to improve Middle Straits Lake

West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 16, 2017

 Garrity, 15, completed the project as part of his Eagle Scout advancement.

Garrity, 15, completed the project as part of his Eagle Scout advancement.

Photo by Deanna Garrity

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A local Eagle Scout project should have a lasting effect on the environment in the Middle Straits Lake area in West Bloomfield.

Charles Garrity, 15, a sophomore at Walled Lake Central High School, has been a Boy Scout since he was in first grade. For years he’s been active in his troop, and recently he was able to begin to advance toward becoming an Eagle Scout. 

To do so, he needed to complete a community service project to move forward in Troop 54, based in Novi. Eagle Scout projects have to benefit the local community. 

“The project has to benefit the community as a whole and not be beneficial to a single individual or group,” said Garrity. “It needs to take a certain amount of time and planning and leadership.”

Garrity decided that he would plant grasses near Middle Straits Lake to keep the water clean.  

On Saturday, Sept. 16, Garrity and a group of volunteers planted switchgrass to act as a natural filtration for Middle Straits Lake at the public boat launch near Eldora Boulevard. The plants, which are native to Michigan, will remove chemicals from runoff before the water enters the lake, reducing water pollution in the lake.

The group installed 36 plants in a 144-square-foot area. The project took about seven hours, said Garrity.

Garrity spent over 80 hours planning for the project, which was funded completely through donations from a bottle and can drive. The drive collected over 5,900 cans and bottles. In total, Garrity fundraised over $900 for the project. 

Garrity is now an Eagle Scout candidate — he has three more merit badges to earn before advancing to Eagle Scout, said Scoutmaster Tony Dimattia. 

“It was a unique project and a valuable conservation project,” said Dimattia. “That was the first type of project that we did like that, when we’re adding natural filters.” 

Dimattia said other projects commonly done to earn the Eagle Scout ranking are to build benches, fix fences and add shade structures, like gazebos.

Of the 40 Scouts in Troop 54, Dimattia estimates that there are two or three active Eagle Scouts. When Garrity earns his remaining badges, then Dimattia will help him take the steps to increase his ranking to Eagle Scout. 

“I started as a Cub Scout in first grade,” said Garrity. “It feels really good, because not many people become an Eagle Scout.”