By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY — A Londonderry Eagle Scout was honored earlier this month when his project, the wooden walkways built on one of the town’s most traveled trail ways, captured the attention of the New Hampshire Land Surveyors Association (NHLSA). Dana Pierce, a 2010 graduate of Londonderry High School, was presented with an award during the NHLSA’s annual meeting, held at the Concord Marriot on Dec. 2. Without Pierce’s knowledge, a former scout leader nominated him for the award several months ago.
Now a freshman studying mechanical engineering at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord, Pierce said he chose his ambitious Eagle Scout project after learning of the community’s need.
“I wanted to do some work in the Musquash (Conservation Area),” Pierce said this week. “But when I met with members of the Londonderry Trailways group, they suggested a bridge was needed for this area.”
Instead of constructing trail signs as he’d originally intended, Pierce began the three-month process of designing and constructing two puncheon-style walkways on an existing trail known for its seasonal flooding.
Located behind the town’s municipal complex, the trail is well-traveled throughout the year, as it provides off-street pedestrian and bicycle access to schools, sports fields, the library and town hall from a neighborhood with approximately 150 homes.
The Londonderry High School and Middle School track teams also frequently use the trail.
Set at the bottom of a hill, the trail borders a 3,000square-foot bowl of wetlands, which become saturated with water each spring, rendering the trail unusable.
“In order to travel through this part of the trail, pedestrians walk on higher adjacent areas, destroying the ground and vegetation, which negatively affected the surrounding wetland environment,” said Pierce’s father, Larry Pierce, who serves on the Londonderry Trailways board of directors.
During the fall of 2009, Pierce worked closely with town and Londonderry Trailways officials to survey the area, create maps and mark the project site, while obtaining necessary construction permits through the state Department of Environmental Services Wetland Bureau.
Using computerized CAD technology, Pierce mapped out a design for the two bridges, purchased materials and organized volunteers to assist him along the way. The project was completed last spring. “I kind of jumped on it,” said Pierce, who earned his Eagle Scout badge in July. “It was quite a project.”
Start to finish, the project took an estimated 145 hours to complete, of which the former high school honor student contributed 62 hours.
“Dana is an incredibly motivated young man, and his organization and execution of this project has vastly improved the accessibility of the trail for hundreds of Londonderry residents, while also protecting valuable wetland area from damage,” the elder Pierce said. “He recognized a community need and took the initiative to make the necessary improvements.”