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updated: 7/24/2012 12:16 AM

Prospect Heights Boy Scout pitches cleanup effort to city council

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By David Conway

A Prospect Heights teen wants to help clean up the city's South Slough. Monday night, the Prospect Heights City Council expressed their interest in such a project.

Kristopher Klingner, 15, hopes to volunteer with his Arlington Heights Boy Scout troop next spring to clear the area of dead wood and buckthorn, an invasive shrub.

The project to sweep the South Slough, which is near Klingner's house, would range from the pavilion near Izaak Walton Park north to Willow Road. The first step would be to clear all the dead wood the scouts could manage from the area, a task made more arduous by some residents' actions.

"People have dumped some of their woods into the forest, adding to the natural clutter," Klingner wrote in a letter his mother, Kristine Klingner, read to the council. "Someone had the audacity to dispose of their Christmas tree in the pavilion -- tinsel and all."

The weekend after that step was completed, the troop would return to clear the area of buckthorn. According to the letter read by Kristine, buckthorn is a nonnative species from Europe. Though frequently used as a shrub in gardens, the plant can grow unwieldy if not maintained.

Though the project may seem ambitious in scope, the Klingners were confident in their ability to effect positive change in the targeted area.

"There's no way I can guarantee we can remove it all, but we can remove a great deal and make it look so beautiful," Kristine said.

The city council members present at the meeting all issued their support, should the project proceed as described. The city would provide assistance in the form of wood-chipping, which requires a tool that the Boy Scouts are not allowed to operate."It will be an interesting project and a worthwhile project," Mayor Nick Helmer said. "I hope the scout troop approves it."

This service project will help Kristopher in his quest to achieve the group's highest rank, Eagle Scout.

In addition to a more formal thumbs-up from the city and its park district, the project is pending the approval of a group of Boy Scouts leaders, to whom Kristopher will present a more detailed plan in an upcoming meeting.

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