Scout ‘angles’ to improve Schenck’s habitat in Wilton

An Boy Scout is joining the restoration work underway along the Norwalk River in Schenck’s Island for his Eagle Scout project.

An environmentalist and fishing enthusiast, Ben Cohen, a member of Westport Troop 100, plans to remove invasive species and replant native trees and shrubs essential in developing a healthy riparian buffer along a section of the river in Schenck’s Island.

“The natural population of wild brown trout is declining in the Norwalk River. They serve as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ indicating the health of the river ecosystem, because they require clean, cold water to survive,” Ben said in his project description.

“Improving habitat for trout means improving water quality, creating habitat for other aquatic life like insects, eels, mink, heron, egrets, osprey, and other animals that rely on the river for life. The work also improves the quality of life for residents, the aesthetic beauty of the area, and creates better fishing opportunities for local anglers, families and children,” he said.

It’s a large project Ben has undertaken and he is seeking help in removing invasive species and plant native plants along River Road between the bridge at Old Ridgefield Road and Wilton Hardware.

Specifically, he needs 50 to 60 volunteers on two workdays:

 Removal of plants will take place Saturday, Oct. 19, from 9 to noon.

 Planting will take place Saturday, Oct. 26, from 9 to noon. Rain date is Nov. 2.

Some tools are available, but Ben is hoping volunteers can bring wheelbarrows, small and large loppers, shovels and tarps.

To raise the $4,000 needed for native plants, Ben has started a Go Fund Me page at In addition to the money raised there, Aquarion Water Company has donated $250.

So far, Ben has received a dumpster for removal of invasive plants from City Carting, four loppers from Wilton Hardware, coffee and hot chocolate from Starbucks, and a $50 gift card for water and snacks from Stop & Shop.

Ben, who attends Easton High School, is working on the project with the Mianus chapter of Trout Unlimited, which undertook a half-mile river restoration project this summer, as well as the Norwalk River Watershed Association, Norwalk River Watershed Initiative, Wilton Garden Club, Wilton Conservation Commission, Wilton Inland Wetlands Commission, and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Upon successful completion of his project, Ben plans to enter it into competition for a William T. Hornaday Award given by Boy Scouts of America. The organization calls it “an Olympic medal bestowed by the earth.”

Named for the founder of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., it recognizes those who have “contributed significantly to natural resource conservation and environmental protection.”

For more information on how to help, email Ben at