Thanks to an aspiring Eagle Scout and members of his troop, a public preserve in Franklin Township is now an even more appealing place to visit.
Jay William Chardoussin, 17, of Flemington, led his troop in building an information kiosk and two picnic tables at New Jersey Conservation Foundation's Huey property off Joe Ent Road as part of his Eagle Scout project.
A junior at North Hunterdon High School, Jay is a member of Troop 108, Hunterdon Arrowhead District for Central New Jersey Council. He has been involved in Boy Scouts since becoming a Tiger Cub in first grade, and hopes to earn his Eagle rank later this year.
Jay said he got the idea for making improvements to the Huey property after noticing a kiosk and picnic tables at a campsite he visited with his troop. He was familiar with the Huey property, a 51-acre former farm preserved by New Jersey Conservation Foundation in 2007, and felt that it would be a more welcoming destination with the addition of an information kiosk and picnic tables.
"I thought it would be good to raise conservation awareness of this property," he said.
Jay and his fellow scouts provided all of the materials and labor needed for the project, which was completed this spring. They raised $1,500 by holding a car wash and soliciting donations from local residents and businesses, and spent more than 250 man-hours on construction.
"All the scouts in my troop volunteered to help out, and I also had a lot of help from my parents and family," said Jay, noting that his father (also named Jay) has been a scoutmaster for many years.
The scouts were supervised by Ray Steingall, land steward for New Jersey Conservation Foundation. "These kids worked hard and did a really fantastic job," said Steingall, who installed a plaque on the kiosk recognizing Jay and the other members of Troop 108 for their contributions.
The Huey preserve, located at 71 Joe Ent Road in Franklin Township, was acquired by New Jersey Conservation Foundation in 2007 and is open to the public for hiking, picnicking and nature observation. The property, which includes eight ponds, was formerly a fish farm where grass carp were raised for sale to Asian markets.
The new kiosk, which is visible from the road, displays an aerial map of the property and its hiking trails, as well as information about New Jersey Conservation Foundation and other preserved properties in the Wickecheoke Creek Greenway of Hunterdon County.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey. Since its founding in 1960, the Foundation has helped protect more than 120,000 acres. For more information, go to www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE.