BARNEGAT, NJ – Most school-age children look forward to weekends as a break from their regular routine. In the case of Barnegat Boy Scout Troop 26, members traded relaxation for some hard work. They took a trip over to the west side of town and helped Pheasant Run residents with some tree and brush cleanup in the entrance to the development.

Lynne Larson serves as chair of the Pheasant Run Firewise Committee. She remembers the year that raging flames from a wildfire resulted in the need for residents to evacuate their homes. In the last few years, Larson has taken on a mission. She works on educating her neighbors and acts proactively on minimizing the start and spread of fires.

It isn’t something she does alone.  Like other over 55 communities in Barnegat, Larson is joined by both a committee and local residents. Professionals come in annually to perform significant overhauls as far as dead trees and brush. However, the regrowth appears quickly, and Larson figured she could use some outside help.

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“The boy scouts had just done a food drive,” said Larson. “I reached out to our local troop and asked if they minded coming in to help add to the safety of our community.”

The response came quickly enough. Troop 26 consists of 25 scouts, ranging in age from 11-18. A great many of them showed up at Pheasant Run this past Saturday. They also brought along some mothers and fathers.

“I think it’s important to keep things safe for the wildlife,” said Charles Rollman, age 12. “We need to make sure that there’s no plastic among the debris.”

Meanwhile, another scout focused on fire safety. “There are a lot of things that are potentially flammable,” shared Jack Shive, age 14. “Any type of leaves that fall are dangerous. Pine needles that shed can create fires.”

According to troop leaders, all of the scouts receive service hours for these types of projects.  Last year, Troop 26 earned enough hours for Journey to Excellence recognition. The Pheasant Run cleanup adds to the tally in 2020.