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Bedford Eagle Scout Silas Johnson built a bridge over Ash Bog for his Eagle Award project. (Courtesy)

Eagle Scout completes new bridge over Ash Bog

BEDFORD — Eagle Scout and resident Silas Johnson spoke before the Conservation Commission on Tuesday night, sharing the results of a project he completed to earn the Eagle Award: a new bridge at the Ash Bog Conservation Area.

Johnson, who appeared before the commission in his Eagle Scout uniform, said building the bridge was a relatively easy process.

“It was really only two four-hour workdays, and that’s thanks to the work that me, [alternate commissioner] Tom [Sauser] and Brian [Harjula] did behind the scenes,” Johnson told the commissioners. “It wouldn’t have gone so smoothly if it weren’t for them helping me and teaching me how to lead a project.”

Johnson showed the commissioners a slideshow with pictures of the area where the bridge was built and throughout the building process. He said he recruited several of his friends – Nathan Gould, Christian Bostrup, Jake Catania, and fellow Eagle Scout Ryan Bailey — to help with the project. His father and uncle also helped.

The process of building the bridge included digging holes for installing granite posts, which had to be carried across the stream; bringing in an I-beam using heavy machinery; and using lumber to build the decking of the bridge. Johnson said all the digging was done by hand, without the help of any machinery, and that he and his team had to remove some large rocks from the ground.

Commissioner Ken Peterson commended Johnson on a job well done.

“Having worked with my son on his [Eagle Scout project] and having actually been a councilor who approved other projects, this is a great project,” Peterson said. “You did a great job. It’s a service to a lot of other people, it’s going to last a long time, it looks very nice, your organizational skills were excellent, and I applaud you.”

Johnson thanked Peterson for his praise.

“I know it’s going to last a long time, so the work paid off,” he said.

Peterson asked Johnson if he had considered using deck screws instead of nails. Johnson replied that Harjula was largely in charge of choosing building materials because he has previous experience building bridges.

“We considered it, but he had a nail gun, and we put three nails in each spot,” Johnson said. “It’s pretty secure.”

Sauser thanked Johnson’s father, Garrick Johnson, who is also an Eagle Scout, for his help with the project, and his mother, Dawn Johnson, for providing food while they worked, saying, “It was a family effort.”

“You are to be commended,” vice chairman Mervyn Taub told Johnson. “I’m embarrassed to tell you I haven’t been out to see it yet, but I shall make it my business to do so.”

Johnson said on Wednesday that he hoped the bridge would be a positive addition to the Ash Bog Conservation Area.

“I thought it would be cool to do,” he said. “They’re going to be putting some trails in and it’s going to be a new conservation area, so I thought it would be nice to help get them started, and the bridge is obviously one of the first things they need to open up the area.”

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