Porter Bradford, a 17-year-old Eagle scout from Blanding, Utah, recently finished the requirements to earn the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal Award. This has only been awarded about 1100 times since established in 1917. It requires a First Class Scout or Venturer to plan, lead, and carry out four significant projects similar in scope to an Eagle Scout project.
His first project included building foot bridges over a hiking trail to reduce erosion into the stream beds. His second project, doubling as his Eagle project, had two main parts: fire safety education and hazard fuels mitigation. For his third, he worked with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to improve the fish habitat in a local reservoir. He took these projects one summer at a time, the first one taking place in 2010.
His fourth and last project was very unique. As Porter and his father were hiking near Blanding, Utah one day, they noticed what appeared to be a small replica of the arches and other unique land formations found throughout San Juan County. They later learned that these arch formations were trace fossils left behind from a colony of proto-mammal called Tritylodons in the late Jurassic/early Triassic period (165 million years ago).
When Porter consulted with the United States Bureau of Land Management, he discovered that they were unaware of the land formation he had found. It was decided that the best way to conserve the place they now refer to as the “Map Room” would be through careful documentation. This included photographs, measurements, and GPS locations.
Porter knew that drawing attention to the site by building trails and putting up fences would prompt vandalism and destruction, which he wanted to avoid. By documenting the site, he was able to get it protected under the paleontology act. There is also a good chance that it will be included in a new National Conservation Area. This would allow increased Government funding for site interpretation and law enforcement. In the meantime, Porter is the site steward, watching over the site and making sure nothing happens to it.
Porter says, “Opportunities like the William T. Hornaday award surround all of us. We should seek out these opportunities and take advantage of them. Earning this award has helped set a pattern for the rest of my life. I want to serve others. I am truly grateful for the people that have given their time and resources to help accomplish this goal.”
Author: Aubrey Carpenter | Marketing Assistant, Utah National Parks Council