Scout project designed to reduce bugs, preserve birds

Scout project designed to reduce bugs, preserve birds

Boxes will help improve quality of life at Notte Park

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Calling all killer bats and bully owls to make yourselves at home.

Town resident Steven Rathier is completing an Eagle Scout project he says will improve the quality of life for visitors to the town's newly expanded Notte Park, by lending a hand to two specific kinds of wildlife there.

Local officials had asked leaders of North Providence Boy Scout Troop 5 whether one of their Scouts would be willing to create new box homes for bats and screech owls at various locations throughout the park.

Rathier, with some help, ended up building eight boxes, four for owls and four for bats, that will help contain the furry creatures and enhance their contributions to the local ecosystem.

According to town officials, the bat boxes will centralize bats at night in the main recreation area of the former Camp Meehan property, which is now part of Notte Park off Douglas Avenue. With comfortable living quarters, they'll be able to settle down to do what they do best, which is to kill off mosquitoes. The bat boxes were made with 50 grooves for the bats to climb up.

Eliminating mosquitoes is especially important given all the mosquito-borne illnesses around, like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, said Rathier.

The owl boxes have been built to contain screech owls, which are known for bullying other birds by taking away their nests instead of building their own. With pre-made nests at the ready, the hope is that the owls will leave the other birds alone so that all can flourish in the park. Owls also love to hunt rodents, an added benefit of having them around.

Rathier was planning to recruit fellow Scouts to help install the new owl and bat boxes on Tuesday. The owl boxes would go in trees, while the bat boxes will be installed on or near a newly acquired recreation building near the Wenscott Reservoir.

The total price tag on the new boxes was $126.50, with the money coming from a carwash fundraiser and extra funds in the Scout bank account. Rathier himself had put in 32 hours of labor prior to Tuesday. Rathier, a 17-year-old who graduated this year from North Providence High School, is the son of Ronald and Christine Rathier. He plans to take his general education classes at the Community College of Rhode Island before heading to the University of Massachusetts or the University of Rhode Island for music.

Troop 5 is led by Scoutmaster Dmitry Zagadsky and Assistant Scout Master Joe Riccitelli.

Town officials officially paid $500,000 to purchase 15.5 acres of property formerly belonging to Camp Meehan last June. The property, which is bordered by dozens more open acres in neighboring Lincoln, is one of the last remaining open spaces in town. The property was formerly tabbed for condos, a project Mayor Charles Lombardi fought against for years before finally achieving his goal of having the town buy the property.