FALMOUTH – Ryson Phares of Boy Scout Troop 40 was going to make a bike park at the hospital lights for his Eagle Scout project. But when neighbors objected, he shifted his focus to a little known open space parcel next to a white cedar swamp about a mile away that needed some TLC.
It is part of an almost seven-acre parcel of open space near the center of town that most Falmouthites probably do not know exists.
On a sunny Sunday in December, Ryson and fellow boy scouts and a large group of volunteers and the help of some heavy duty equipment went about clearing land and hauling brush.
The area is accessed by Dove Cottage Road across from Morse Pond School on Jones Road. The lot they were clearing accesses the Barrett Parcel, a 6.9 acre parcel acquired by the town of Falmouth in 1995 from Francis and Beatrice Barrett.
Ryson said the land is a unique ecological space.
“Most of the Cape’s white cedar swamps were clear cut more than 100 years ago to make cranberry bogs,” Ryson explained. “That’s why there are not many left on Cape Cod. They’re not super common.”
Interviewed as he was taking a breather after hauling brush onto a truck, Ryson, 17, a senior at Sturgis East Charter Public School, at first could not remember how old he was when he joined the boy scouts.
His father, Dana Phares, knew right away. “You were eight years old,” he said.
There followed some back and forth between Ryson and his friends about what exactly that age scout is called. Tiger? Wolf? Bear?
They settled on the catch all: cub scout.
Ryson called his experience over the years with scouting “fantastic” and said he has particularly enjoyed all the trips, including skiing, camping, and hiking.
“There are really unique opportunities for kids who get involved at a young age,” he said. “It’s fun being with a bunch of kids your own age.”
He said scouting has been important to him over the years. “It’s definitely a big part of who I am,” he said.
Besides volunteers, Ryson was assisted on the brush clearing project with a half dozen of his scouting buddies plus his father and also scout master Dr. Kenneth Heisler.
He said that after his first idea for a bike park fell through, he approached The 300 Committee, the Falmouth land conservation group that formed in 1985 on the town’s 300th anniversary with the purpose of preserving 300 acres of open space. Thirty years later, the group has preserved 2,300 acres, and counting.
Ryson said, the 300 Committee’s stewardship coordinator Jack Sidar pointed him to the lot off Rydal Mount Drive as a place in need of clean up.
Ryson’s Eagle Scout project involved clearing the lot at the entrance to the trail, which had become an overgrown dumping ground and also re-establishing the narrow walking trail on the property.
Among about 50 volunteers helping with the work, was Michael Duffany, owner of M. Duffany Builders Inc., who is on The 300 Committee board of directors and lent his truck for the effort.
When this reporter said she knows the area but did not know the trail existed, Ryson said the project has the additional benefit of bringing attention to a little known area.
To aid that effort, the project also includes adding much-needed signage so people can better find the trail.
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– Laura M. Reckford