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ST. MARYS — Outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs have the opportunity to stroll through the woods near the location of what is believed to be the initial settlement of St. Marys.
As part of his Eagle Scout project, Ryan Wendel, 18, established a walking path through the woods behind Varsity Lanes in St. Marys. The parcel is believed to be near the original settlement of Fort St. Marys, which became part of St. Marys.
“The basic idea was to come back here and create a hiking trail that would show off the natural area here and tie in with the historical aspect of the fort being out here,” Wendel told The Evening Leader, noting volunteers put in more than 130 hours into the project. “We came out here in the middle of November to look around and see what it was and came back out in April and May and figured out where we wanted the trail to go.”
Wendel and crew cleared a quarter-mile trail through the woods, placed landscaping fabric down and covered it with mulch. The project, which included two dozen volunteers, was a partnership between the St. Marys Rotary Club and the city of St. Marys.
“It was a lot of work with the Rotary Club and the city,” Wendel said, noting the city owns the parcel. “The Rotary was really pushing this project. I made a bunch of trips out here with members of both groups to make sure they both liked what was going on.”
The Rotary Club provided the finances for the project and the city donated mulch for the trail. Wendel said the end result surprised him.
“I was expecting it to look pretty good but it’s just beautiful,” Wendel said.
Rotarian Kimberli Rompilla said the when the property came up for sale, Rotarians developed a plan for a hiking trail through the woods and presented it to city councilors. Councilors purchased the land and allowed the Rotarians to move ahead with the project.
“We’ve been kind of sitting on it for a couple of years, deciding what we want to do with it,” Rompilla said. “We got wind of an Eagle Scout who needed to do a project. It was presented to the club that he would come in, dig out some trails and he started the whole project for us.”
Rotary President Linda Vogel said the club has future plans to expand the trail.
“We thought what a great way to try and improve another piece of property within the community,” Vogel said. “We have a lot of people in our club who love nature and the outdoors and this is something we felt strong about. We have items in the budget to keep progressing with the project — whether it’s bird houses or benches. We’ll have to keep up the maintenance on it as well.”