Lataif removes old post

Philip Lataif digs out an old rotted guidepost on the Braille Trail at the Marshall Forest on Saturday. Lataif, with help from several of his scouting friends, replaced all of the posts with new composite material posts that should not rot as his Eagle Scout project.

Philip Lataif is no stranger to the Marshall Forest. One of his brothers got an Eagle Scout badge for improving the Braille Trail in the rare old-growth urban forest. 

So, for his Eagle Scout project, Philip took on the responsibility of keeping the trail in tip-top shape by replacing rotted posts that help guide blind visitors along the path.

"I talked to the Nature Conservancy, Marc Weed and Caroline Alford of the Garden Club of Georgia and they told me they needed the posts replaced," Philip said.

Alford was able to assist financially and was able to help pay for the new composite material posts through garden club fundraising efforts.

He set aside about five hours Saturday to make the upgrade to the trail, but got enough help from his  Troop 113 scouting friends and others to finish the work in a little less time.

Philip and his buddies dug out dozens of old rotted wood posts that hold the guide ropes that facilitate travel by sight-impaired visitors. 

Getting the Eagle Scout recognition is a big deal for him since both of his older brothers, Georgia and Ted are also Eagle Scouts. A younger brother, Charlie, is also working on his Eagle status

The 301-acre Marshall Forest was the first National Natural Landmark in Georgia, noted by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1966.

Plans are in the works for a bus turn-around on the opposite side of Horseleg Creek Road to facilitate school groups visitation in the future.

Caroline Alford, the local coordinator for the Garden Club of Georgia, has a lengthy wish list for work in the Marshall Forest.  

Additional railroad ties to better delineate limited parking space in the small lot off Horseleg Creek Road is at the top of the list, along with QR codes that can be placed on signposts to help visitors identify flora. Her priorities also include a replacement wet weather bridge and more crusher run gravel, which can be easily compacted along the Braille Trail to help people with handicaps access the trail.

Contributions can be made by sending checks to Garden Club of Georgia c/o Caroline Alford, 7 Pine Valley Road, Rome, Ga. 30165, with a note that the donation is for the Marshall Forest.

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