After nearly three years, a Carbon County Environmental Education Center project to construct a flight pen for the rehabilitation of injured birds was dedicated on Saturday.
The Frederick R. Wallace Flight Pen, a structure 16 feet wide by 16 feet high by 100 feet long, was the result of the work of dozens of financial contributors and workers including Steven Hutta of Jim Thorpe.
About a year and a half ago, Hutta was looking for an Eagle Scout project when during a visit to the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary, he chanced to meet Franklin Klock of the CCEEC.
"He said he had a project that needs to get done," Hutta said.
"When I arrived, there were a whole bunch of holes in the ground and posts in the holes," Hutta continued. "It went from there. I feel really good about it. It will be used to rehabilitate birds to see them return to flying free. I've seen several birds use the flight pen. I think the birds love it."
"I'm very proud of my son and everyone who helped him," said Hutta's mother, Monique. "It was a lot bigger project than we thought. It took a long time to complete but when we saw the birds in there flying, it was well worth it."
"I helped him with the wood," said his father, Michael. "It is very impressive and I'm glad he did it for the community and the birds."
Susan Gallagher, chief environmental educator at the CCEEC, led a dedication program that drew about 100 people. She thanked Steven Hutta and noted that he will be awarded the Order of Eagle Scouts through his Boy Scout Troop 555 of Jim Thorpe.
"His troop and his family helped him as well," she noted.
"Building a 100-foot-long structure is no small undertaking," she said. "It had been in the works for several years until Steven came along and finished things that we had gotten rolling. Things were really stalled. He helped to keep us aloft."
Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein spoke at the dedication.
"Environmental education is so important to our educational system," he said. "Over 40,000 have gone through the Envirothon programs since 1987."
He urged people to "Come out. Take a walk."
The flight pen is dedicated to Fredrick Renshaw Wallace. Wallace trained the Center's Bald Eagle, which was renamed Renshaw in his honor.
"Renshaw didn't arrive with that name," explained Gallagher.
"The Bald Eagle was trained by Fred Renshaw Wallace for use in public education. When it first came in, we realized it could not be released into the wild because of its injuries. We realized we would have to train it to sit on a wrist and be comfortable in front of a crowd.
"The flight pen helps us to rehabilitate birds much more efficiently," Gallagher explained. "We don't have to handle them for their flight training. We don't have to stress them. It's all hands-off to prepare to release them to the wild."
The flight pen enclosure is dedicated to Dean Beers, Albert M. Rife, Fred Wallace, and Rudolph C. Bednar.
Members of the families were present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, with Karen Wallace, the widow of Fred Wallace cutting the ribbon.
Nancy Moore, pastor at St. Mathews Lutheran Church in Franklin Township, led the invocation, which began, "May we be ever guided in our choices so that we may safeguard habitats, insuring the mysteries and beauties of nature as they unfold for future generations."