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Local Girl Scout troop proposes project to save birds' lives


February 5, 2019

Editor’s note: This corrects the spelling of the name of Havre Girl Scout Sophia Dawson.

Members of the Girl Scouts Havre Service Unit Cadette Troop 3225 gave a presentation of their proposal to put grates on outhouse vents in Beaver Creek Park at the Hill County Park Board meeting Monday night in the Timmons Room of the Hill County Courthouse.

Sophie Darson, Megan Boyle and Kylie Greenwood stood before the board to deliver their outline for their Silver Award Project. Boyle distributed a summary of the project to the board titled Save the Birds.

Boyle said many birds die in outhouse vents because they think they are hollow logs and fly into the vault to try and build their nests, but fall in and become trapped.

Greenwood said their solution is to install grates over the outhouse vents. She added that they will need to purchase 31 grates and each grate will cost about $35 each.

The troop’s outline says they plan to purchase the grates by spring and install them in late spring or early summer.

Boyle said the troop members came before the board to get their permission to go ahead with the project.

Beaver Creek Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said he was in favor of the project and that the troop could contact him for any assistance.

Montana State University-Northern Professor Terri Hildebrand, who was in the audience, asked the troop if they planned on having a local company make the grates for them.

Boyle said they would not be working with a local company because the project they are doing is part of a larger, national project sponsored by the Teton Raptor Center.

“This is our little piece of the entire puzzle,” she added.

Other board members voiced their approval of the project and the board, including Hill County Commissioners Mark Peterson, Diane McLean and Mike Wendland, voted unanimously to approve the Save the Birds Project.

Following the meeting, various board members and guests donated to the troop.

“It crushed our hearts when we heard that birds were dying in our park, and we felt like we needed to fix it,” Boyle said. “Plus, we like birds.”

The troop will be holding fundraisers for the Save the Birds Project at a later time, Boyle said. Donations can be mailed to Kirsten Boyle at 7070 First St. W., Havre, MT 59501.

According to the Teton Raptor Center’s website, the project is called the Teton Raptor Center’s Poo Poo Project. The project started in 2010 by installing 100 rock screens on ventilation pipes of toilets throughout Grand Teton National Park and Bridger-Teton, Caribou-Targhee and Shoshone national forests.

The initial screens were expensive and in 2013 the TRC developed their own Poo Poo Screens and have distributed 15,790 Poo Poo Screens to 513 Poo Poo Partners in the U.S., Canada and Virgin Islands.

Hildebrand also spoke earlier in the meeting following community member Lou Hagener’s recap on the status of monitoring in the park.

She said she wanted to come to the meeting that evening so board members could “put a face with the name.”

Hildrebrand is working with Hagener in a project to monitor factors in the park such as water quality, plant grown and fence condition.

Hildebrand added that she has been a botanist for more than 20 years and is going on her fifth year of teaching at Northern. She said wanted to thank the board for letting her students use the park for projects and occasional trips.

Hildebrand said she has received funding for some projects, one of which deals with water quality sampling in the park. She received more than $50,000 in grants to help purchase equipment along with an additional $25,000 grant to help pay students to work on the park this summer.

She added that the funding was provided by the National Institute of Health.

“I see this as an opportunity,” Hildebrand said. “… I want you to view me and the students and Northern as a resource. … I want you to see that there’s a real positive side to it. I really think that we can bring some good information to you.”

McLean asked Hildebrand if she was concerned with any interference with her projects from visitors to the park. Hildebrand said she doesn’t anticipate any problems.

Hagener agreed and said he has experience with monitoring programs for over 30 years and that he rarely encountered an issue.

Beaver Creek Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said there was no update on the folf course and park staff members were still looking for a good location for the course.

He added that Lindsey Bennett of Havre Trails was looking at different areas and did not want to put it on the new Rotary Falls Loop trail.

Havre Trails will meet again with Edgar to go over possible locations, he added.


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