Greenwich Eagle Scout Turtle Project Will Bring Turtles to Bruce Park

Michael Morales dreamed for years about a potential Eagle Scout project.

Sometimes the best ones seem so simple and obvious that any of us could come up with. But…we didn’t.

There is more that goes into an Eagle Scout project than beats the eye.

Michael, who is a senior at Greenwich High School and has wrestled and played rugby at the school, said he is looking forward to attening college at American International College in Springfield, MA next fall.

He explained that he has been anticipating his Eagle Scout project since he was in first grade. That was the year of a fortuitous meeting in an elevator at Greenwich Hospital with Walter Stratton, who suggested to Michael’s mother that her son attend a Boy Scout meeting.

Michael Morales in Bruce Park. April 3, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Eagle Scout candidate Michael Morales with Walter Burke from Parks & Rec installing a turtle pad in Bruce Park. April 5, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

From there Michael eagerly became a Cub Scout with Pack 6 in his neighborhood on Hamilton Avenue, where meetings took place at St. Roch’s Church.

He loved it from the start.

“The camp outs,” he exclaimed when asked what had been the hook. “Every single camp out is a new experience, even if we go to the same place. It’s honestly so much fun. The cooking might be atrocious at some times. Everyone is hungry. It’s like a brotherhood.”

Michael said most of the camp outs had been to were at Camp Seton, where more recently he has been a lifeguard at the pool and also worked at the trading post.

“I grew up at that place and have been there since second grade,” he said.

Later Michael switched over to Troop 35, where the leader is Police Chief Jim Heavey. In fact, Michael said that when becomes an Eagle Scout he will be the 104th person from Troop 35 to achieve that goal.

Michael’s project entails building and installing turtle pads in Bruce Park in coordination with Parks Operation Manager Darren Wigglesworth.

This week Michael explained that there is an opportunity to relocate some of the abundant turtles from Binney Park to Bruce Park where there are two pond areas.

“There’s so many turtles at Binney Park that they’re going to transfer the turtles here,” he said. “There’s actually no turtles here.”

“I always knew I wanted to do something involving animals,” Michael explained. “My best friend Gianluca Bianchi did his project up at Animal Control.”

And William van Rhyn’s Eagle Scout project was to create the turtle pads in Binney Park.

Turtle pads in Binney Park that were an Eagle Scout project are popular with both turtles and park visitors. June 2022

Michael said he’s so excited for people to come to Bruce Park and see the turtles which he described as magical.

There will be two pads, one on each side of Bruce Park Drive.

Michael explained that an important part of the process was the actual measuring of the depth of the water in Bruce Park and anticipation of the rise and fall of the tidal pond to determine the length of the chain that anchors the pod to the bottom of the pond. And the pods are carefully located not too far from shore, but not too close either – the idea is a safe distance for both people and turtles.

From there, the construction of the pods included all the Troop 35 members. Not all the troop members can work the heavy equipment, Michael explained, adding that those some Scouts were tasked with measuring the wood to be cut.

Once the wood was cut for the pods, they were made buoyant by foam tubes that fit underneath are held in place by brackets.

As the days grow warmer, stop by Bruce Park and check out Michael’s turtle pads.

Turtle Nesting Season
Turtle nesting season is between the months of May and July. During this time egg bearing females will travel far distances to find the perfect nesting habitat to dig a nest and lay their eggs. Animal Control Officer Suzanne Carlin urges drivers to slow down and be aware and alert not to hit turtles crossing the road.

See also:

PHOTOS: Binney Park Dredge Update: Moving Turtles & Wildlife, Setting up Coffer Dam and Boom 

Binney Park Dredge Means Permits for Careful Relocation of Turtles, Frogs and Fish July 2017