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Dennis Foley spent three days looking for and mapping invasive species in Rickreall Creek.

DALLAS — Dennis Foley, a member of Dallas’ Boy Scout Troop 288, was inspired by Scouts before him that earned their Eagle by completing a community service project.

When it was his turn to ponder advancing to Eagle, he decided also to help his community. 

“You don’t really look at that until you really get into Boy Scouts and you see all these other people who have gone through and done it,” he said.

His search for a project was a bit longer than he expected.

“I had experimented with a project up in Black Rock (Mountain Bike Area) making a bike trail up there, but that kind of fell through,” he said. “Then I looked to repairing a fish trap, which they used to move salmon past (Mercer) dam. But the timing didn’t really work out for that too well.”

Finally, with the help of the Rickreall Watershed Council, Foley found a suitable project.

“I ended up looking for invasive species on the Rickreall Creek. We looked for water primrose and Japanese knotweed. We went from where Baskett Slough meets up with Rickreall Creek all the way to where Rickreall Creek meets up with the Willamette.”

He spent three days last fall paddling the creek, stopping to take photos and record the location of invasive plants. That trek took a month or two to plan.

“They hadn’t ever gone down that route, so they kind of wanted to get a baseline of what is there, so if in the future they wanted to go back through and do it again, they would have a baseline to see how much it had spread,” Foley said.

Rickreall Watershed Council Coordinator Lucas Hunt said the project is part of a larger effort to eradicate water primrose from Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. RWC is working with United States Fish & Wildlife and Polk Soil & Water Conservation District.

“We want to survey below that project, but weren’t sure how we were going to do so,” Hunt said.

He said Foley’s survey — he found no water primrose — helped Polk SWCD create a more focused plan to remove the invasive species.

“We were worried that water primrose from Baskett Slough would rapidly move downstream and take root along the mainsteam Rickreall on its way to the Willamette River,” Hunt said. “Since we know it’s not currently present in the portion of the creek Dennis surveyed, the Polk SWCD can focus their efforts on treatment and survey immediately adjacent to the refuge saving time and money.”

Foley, who wants to explore careers in science after high school, said he was happy assist the agencies.

“I really enjoyed the project,” Foley said. “I liked the nature part and surveying for that stuff, protecting the ecosystem.”

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