Fox Island Nature Center
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716 9th Ave, Fox Island, WA 98333
The Fox Island Nature Center was founded in October
2004, through a vision of former FICRA President John Ohlson, members of
the FICRA Board and the Fox Island Building Trust. In the months
that followed, volunteers from local Boy Scout Troops, Girl Scout
Troops, FICRA, and the various Fox Island Garden Clubs contributed
significant efforts to convert this formerly overgrown property into a
nature trail and showcase of native plant life and climactic zones of
Thirteen different Eagle Scout
projects and one Girl Scout Bronze Award
project have been completed between 2004 and 2011, to transform the
property into a wonderful community asset.
The Fox Island Nature Center includes several wetland
areas, a marsh including a small stream, a rain forest area including
several spectacular examples of first-growth nurse logs, second growth
trees, a mixed coniferous and deciduous forest in the upland area, park
benches, a 60' footbridge and several raised walkways, and a native
species garden near the trailhead.
Activities at the Nature Center include hiking, bird
watching, plant identification trail, picnicking, and nature
photography. Park hours are dawn to dusk, 7 days a week. The
Fox Island Nature Center is located at 716 9th Ave, Fox Island, WA
Watch our Wetlands Virtual Tour
An update on our projects at the Fox Island Nature
Center Wetland Park.
Thirteen Eagle Scout projects have been
completed at the
Nature Center, since its opening in 2005.
Footbridge to span
Sravan Konda completes the
extension to the raised boardwalk
linking the main trail loop to the Western Loop Trail.
Dallas Thornton added a
brick pathway around the Native
Species Garden, permanently incorporating the engraved bricks
commemorating the donors who helped fund the purchase of the Nature
Center Property in 2004.
Eagle Scouts Alex Ohlson, Jesse Long, and
Grant Toepfer of
Fox Island's Troop 27 have built three picnic
areas in the undeveloped "Western Loop Trail" area.
Eagle Scouts Jensen Bond and
Max Reetz of Fox Island's Troop 27 have completed
trail improvement projects.
Eagle Scout candidate
of Boy Scout Troop 212, has completed the Native Species
Garden in the far left hand area of the diagram.
Eagle Scout candidate
McKinney of Boy Scout Troop 212, has built
raised walkways across
the marshy areas of the nature trail.
Ian Johnson of Boy Scout Troop
217 recently completed his 'Western Loop' trail-building project, which expanded
the Nature Center's trail system, and installed plant identification
markers along the trails.
Zach Briggs of Boy Scout Troop
282 completed construction of three picnic
tables, and a picnic area.
The Cub Scouts have
built and installed birdhouses in various areas of the park.
Girl Scout Troop 290, led by
Leader Lise' Ohlson completed a flower & shrub garden in
the circular area at right. They completed this service project in
to help earn their Girl Scout Bronze Award.
created the garden design shown below.
Our to-do list is growing shorter;
Complete construction of Kiosk Sign - John &
Lise' O. Done!
Bird house installations - Cub Scouts
Finalize landscape plan for trailhead area -
Pam Britschgi Done!
Work Party to clear blackberries
Plant native species garden - Boy Scouts: Ryan Eason - Done!
Clean up storm
debris and fallen trees from December 14th windstorm - Cub Scouts
Pack 202 Done!
Build additional boardwalks over marshy areas
- Boy Scouts: Garrett McKinney -
Build new trails
on western half of Nature Center & install
plant identification markers - Ian
Tables around main entry area - Boy
Scouts: Zach Briggs
bricks near trailhead area - John O.:
Contact John Ohlson at 253-549-2701 for more information
about these projects.
FICRA Purchases Wetland,
Scouts Help Make it a Park
August, 2005 - By John Ohlson
2004 marked the beginning of a new era in
recreational opportunities for the Fox Island Community & Recreation Association
(FICRA), with the acquisition of 5 acres of wetland and rainforest property now
known as the Fox Island Nature Center and wildlife preserve. 2005 will see the
grand opening of the new park, which opens this Saturday, in conjunction with
the annual FICRA Fair.
property was purchased with donations from Fox Island residents through a wildly
successful fund raising drive following the 2004 FICRA Fair in August 2004. Over
$40,000 was raised in just over 90 days, in one of the most successful
fundraising efforts in recent Island history.
Volunteers helped clear overgrown trails and fallen trees to create the walking
paths. Cub Scouts from Fox Island's Pack 202, Girl Scouts from Fox Island's
Troop 290 and Boy Scouts from Gig Harbor Troops 282 and 212 also contributed
significantly to the development of our new park, by volunteering for work
parties and special community service projects.
Keith Buchanan (pictured
above, and below right), an Eagle Scout candidate from Gig Harbor's Troop
282 took on the most challenging of the projects; building a 60' footbridge and
viewing platform over the stream that runs through the property.
project fulfilled his Eagle rank requirement to perform a project that benefited
the community. After an arduous 3-month experience with the Pierce County
Planning & Land Use department, which included a six week waiting period just to
apply for the permits, the environmental review was completed, permits for the
bridge were secured, and construction began on June 18th. Working conditions
proved to be less than optimal; while digging in the muddy soil to place the
concrete piers, the holes filled in with water as fast as they could bail them
Keith’s parents Bryan and Margaret Buchanan donated a
third of the cost of the bridge, purchasing 143 bags of concrete and hardware
for the bridge piers, which were hand-carried out to the work site by scout
volunteers. A fundraising drive in July provided the funds to purchase the
balance of the materials for the bridge, and the project was completed in time
for the FICRA Fair on August 13th.
As an added incentive to boost the fundraising effort, Keith pledged to cut his
long, red hair if he reached his fundraising goal of $2000. Donations exceeded
$3000, and while Keith did get his hair cut, enough extra money was raised to
pay for the park's informational kiosk, which will recognize those who have
donated exceptional amounts of time and money to the park.
The Boy Scouts require Eagle candidates to complete their badge requirements
prior to their 18th birthday. Although Keith started his project well in advance
back in February, the delays in the permitting process caused the project to be
completed with only three days to spare. He turned 18 on August 9th.
FICRA President and Eagle Scout John Ohlson served as
Keith’s project advisor for the 6 month long project, providing planning
assistance, carpentry expertise, and plenty of sweat equity in the bridge
Many scout volunteers joined
Keith in getting the bridge built. Numerous work parties over the seven
week construction period helped dig holes for the foundations, clear brush, haul
concrete bags, drill holes and nail boards together.
The bridge was the final link that completed the
nature trail loop, spanning the creek and crossing over several fallen trees.
On Saturday, August 6th, it all ended as it had
begun; Keith and fellow scout Paul Sayre who broke ground back in June, put in
the final 400 deck screws to attach the decking, to complete the project.
year old Eagle Scout candidate John Uehlin, (pictured below
and at right with his father Cliff) from Troop 212 in Gig Harbor, headed
up the second Eagle service project. He constructed and installed 10 park
benches that are located alongside the trail at various points of interest
through the wetland. The benches will bear the names of donors who contributed $500
towards the purchase of the wetland property last fall.
John pre-fabricated the benches in his garage using donated materials, and
assembled them on site in assembly-line fashion.
The bridge and the benches are made of pressure
treated lumber, Trex composite decking and legs of heavy concrete, to help them
withstand the Northwest’s rainy winters. The benches
were built with 40 - 80# bags of concrete, 300 linear ft of decking, 680 deck
screws, 93 board feet of treated lumber and 40-12 inch galvanized bolts.
Each bench weighs over 400 pounds. All of the materials were donated by
area businesses and other donors.
Teams of scout volunteers hauled the heavy
concrete legs through the woods on garden carts and makeshift stretchers, often
through tight turns and muddy trails.
completion of his Eagle requirements at 13 years old is an unusual
accomplishment. Most scouts use a bit more of their scouting career to earn
their Eagle; most achieving Scouting's highest rank when they are 16 to 17 years
The Fox Island Garden Clubs have also pitched in
to help shape our park. Plantings of natural plant species are planned to help
landscape the main trailhead area. Bird houses and bat houses have been
constructed from donated lumber, to be installed by Cub Scouts from Pack 202.
FICRA has supported the Scouting program in helping many other Fox Island Scouts
attain their Eagle rank, by sponsoring their community service projects at the
Cedar picnic tables from Matt Wiley, the Fire Pit
by Matt Randle, and refurbishing our flagpole by Mark McKinney are just a few.
FICRA would like to extend a big THANK YOU to all
the volunteers, donors, and FICRA members who came together as a community to
make our Nature Center a reality, and preserve a pristine, natural part of Fox
Island for generations to come.
A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the park was
held during the FICRA Fair at Noon on Saturday, August 13,
Ryan Eason - Native
Species Garden Project
February, 2007 - Eagle Scout candidate
Ryan Eason of Boy Scout Troop 212 recently completed his Eagle
Scout service project - a Native Species Garden, showcasing the various
plants & trees that grow in the various climate zones of Washington
Above, Scouts Ryan
Eason, Garrett McKinney and friend put the final touches on the garden
Left: Ryan and
Eagle Scout John Uehlin begin the preparations for the garden project.
The garden features five distinct
climate zones; Lowland Western Washington, Montane Forests, Sub-Alpine
Forests, Alpine Forests, and the Ponderosa Forests of Eastern
Ryan on a job well done!
Ryan Eason, standing
next to the completed Native Species Garden
Cub Scouts Help
Saturday, March 3rd, Cub Scouts from Fox Island's Pack 202 spent the day
cleaning up fallen trees, branches and other debris from the trails at
the Fox Island Nature Center.
The December 14,
2006 windstorm toppled more than 20 trees at the Nature Center,
including this big Hemlock tree, near the trailhead at 9th Avenue.
The Cub dads cut up
fallen trees, and the boys helped roll the logs out of the trails.
Above: Spencer, Nicholas Nerli, Max Batanian, Alex Ohlson and Zach
Batanian explore the roots of the fallen Hemlock tree.
Nerli, Zach Batanian, Alex Ohlson and Nicholas Prindiville roll a log
off the trail.
Below: Alex Ohlson,
Nicholas Nerli, Max & Zach Batanian clear a trail of fallen branches.
Thanks to all of our Cub Scout
volunteers: Tim, Zach, Max & Lucas Batanian, Paul and Nicholas Nerli,
Connor and Nina Spencer, Kurt and Nicholas Prindiville, Alex & John
Ohlson, Dave Alberding, Bryan Perkins, and Nicole Perkins.
Garrett McKinney - Raised Walkways on Nature
April 8, 2007 - Troop 212. Garrett's Eagle project
consisted of building several raised walkways over the wetland's
marshes, protecting the area from the impacts of hikers
traveling through the area. The project was made
especially difficult by the muddy conditions.
The walkways were prefabricated offsite, and
installed on concrete pier blocks, to ensure resistance to
Garrett McKinney, standing on one of the
newly completed walkways.
Ian Johnson - 'West Loop' of the Nature
Center's Trail System
April 15, 2007 -
Ian's project completed the 'West
Loop' of the Nature Center's trail system, allowing hikers to explore
the westerly half of the 5-acre nature preserve.
Volunteers from Troop 217 cleared new
trails, placed log slab stepping stones, and installed plant
identification markers along the route.
Highlights of the new trail include
'Stinging Nettle' meadow, (left) ancient nurse logs, and examples of the
various plant species that grow on Fox Island.
Ian Johnson admires
one recently completed section of the 'Western Loop'
trail, covering the undeveloped
2 1/2 acres of the Nature Center.
Troop 290 Plants Nature Garden
Girls from Fox Island's Junior Girl Scout Troop 290 recently
completed their Nature Garden as part of earning their Bronze
Award. This award is the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can
The girls admire the completed garden.
Tess, Sarah Aliya, and Heather stand atop the pile of dirt to be
spread over the garden area.
Parents and members of Troop 290 add the
finishing touches to their Nature Garden, which include a small
dry creek bed, rhododendrons, forsythias, violets, poppies,
vinca, flowering almond, primroses, and other perennial flowers.
||Thanks go to Purdy Topsoil for their
donation of 7 yards of dirt; The Fox Island Garden Club for
their $100.00 donation (used to purchase plants) and FICRA for
their donation of leftover plants from the Annual Fox Island
Some tired moms at the end of the day,
Build New Picnic Tables for Nature Center
Eagle Scout candidate Zach Briggs of Gig Harbor Boy Scout Troop
282, recently completed his community service project by building three
new picnic tables and clearing out a new picnic area for the Fox Island
The tables were built from lumber left over from
the footbridge project two years ago, and were just the perfect fit for
Built from heavy duty pressure treated lumber,
they will last for years to come.
on the project included clearing invasive weeds and brush, leveling the
picnic area, and spreading wood chips to help prevent weeds from
Zach (back row, far right) joins his
fellow scouts and dads in admiring the completed picnic tables.
FICRA would like to give a big
Thank You to Zach and his fellow Scouts.
|Fox Island Eagle Scouts Build new
Picnic Areas for Nature Center
Eagle Scout Alex Ohlson of Fox Island's Troop 27
completed one of three picnic areas for the Fox Island Nature
center as his Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project.
Using picnic tables brought home from the 2010 National Scout
Jamboree, the boys created activity areas where dense tangles of
invasive species once grew.
Alex was the first Scout from
Troop 27 (since its formation in 2007), to earn the Eagle Rank.
Volunteers work to clear blackberries.
"Cobra Camp" was the name given to his project, in honor of
Troop 27's first Patrol.
Eagle Scout Jesse Long of Fox Island's Troop 27 built the
"Cougar Camp" activity area, clearing out dense underbrush,
blackberries and fallen logs, to form a shady picnic area framed
by logs and natural features.
Jesse was the second Scout from Troop 27 to
earn the Eagle Scout Rank.
Volunteers work to clear blackberries to make way for the picnic
Picnic Tables from the 2010 National Scout Jamboree were brought
to Fox Island and re-assembled at the Nature Center.
Eagle Scout Grant Toepfer of
Fox Island's Troop 27, completed the third of three activity
areas for the Fox Island Nature Center.
"Venture Camp" was created on a partial slope, with the area
terraced off by using logs to create flat areas to sit and enjoy
Grant was the third Scout from Troop 27 to earn the Eagle
Picnic tables from the 2010 National Scout Jamboree were
re-assembled at the site.
Hardy woodsmen plying their trade!
Eagle Scout Jensen Bond of Fox Island's Troop 27
completed a staircase and raised walkway over a particularly
muddy stretch of trail, that had become impassable due to the
Jensen became the fourth Scout from Troop 27 to earn the
Eagle Scout rank.
His project was further complicated by
not one, but two fallen alder trees, one landing across the
exact area where he had planned on building the staircase.
Had he started a month sooner, his staircase would have been
smashed by the fallen tree.
Eagle Scout Max Reetz of Fox Island's Troop 27 rebuilt a
well-worn section of trail leading to the footbridge at the
After years of blackberries training the path on various
routes, Max created a wood chip surface with bender board edging
that will keep the trail on track for many years to come.
Max is the fifth Scout from Troop 27 to earn the Eagle Scout
Wood chips were spread over weed blocker fabric, and bordered by
synthetic bender board, to keep the trail well defined, and
prevent weeds from growing in the path.
Brick Pathway Improves FICRA's
Native Species Garden
Eagle Scout Dallas Thornton of Fox Island's Troop 27
wanted to give the Native Species garden a more formal look, and
installed a brick path along the center of the raised garden area.
After four years of weed growth, the path in front of
the garden had become overgrown with weeds and
grass, covering up the engraved bricks that commemorated the names of
the donors who helped purchase the Nature Center.
Dallas dug out all of the weeds and sod, and laid
concrete pavers around the engraved bricks, making a formal, yet rustic
path along the gardens. Future Eagle Scout projects will complete
the path along the full length of the raised garden area. Dallas
is the Sixth Eagle Scout for Troop 27.
Cutting the pavers to fit.
Before and after the path was installed
|Raised Walkway Extension
Eagle Scout Candidate
Sravan Konda of
Fox Island's Troop 27
The extension to the 2007 raised walkway project, added a new section to
the Western Loop Trail entrance.
Volunteers lay the beams that will hold up the new walkway.
Sravan and his father, work to attach the final boards to the walkway.
Scouts Build Footbridge for FICRA's Nature
A companion project to the Raised
Walkway Extension was recently completed on December 29th, by Scouts in
Fox Island's Troop 27, where they built a 10' long footbridge over a
This bridge, made of pressure treated beams and Trex
decking, resulted from re-routing the original trail that used to follow
the streambed with stepping stones, and now crosses the stream.
Thanks to the Troop 27 Scouts, who put in a combined
35 hours in building the bridge, while working towards their next rank