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Bergen Swamps

July 27, 2017 - 9:14am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in bergen, news, Bergen Swamps.


Jared Frego (pictured left) will be replacing the Drew's Nature Center signs, using Logan Pocock (right) and his art skills to paint them, for his Eagle Scout project.  


When Jared Frego saw the Drew’s Nature Center signs, located in Bergen, when he was younger, he thought the bullet holes looked cool. Now, Frego is using his Eagle Scout project as a way to replace the damaged, weather-faded signs.

There are two signs, one at the main entrance, and one on West Sweden Road. Frego said the new signs will be the same size as the old ones.

Frego plans to rebuild the signs and fellow boy scout Logan Pocock, 12, will be painting the signs.

The new signs will have a white-tailed deer, a mallard duck, a Massasauga rattlesnake and a ladyslipper.

“These are important things in our community that show who we are,” Frego said.

Frego presented his community-funded project to the town board on July 25 and the board voted unanimously to approve it. He is hoping it will be completed by the end of fall.

“I hear tales of [the board] looking to redo the nature center to look a lot like the park in Byron,” Frego said. “I want to offer to use my eagle project to rebuild the signs.”

Pictures on a tablet were passed around the meeting, showing the weathering, wear and tear, and bullet holes in the signs.

“The signs that you see in the pictures has a lot of shotgun slugs in it,” Frego said. “It has a couple .22 slugs, and some people decided to hit it a couple times. It doesn’t look too great.”

Frego plans to take the old signs out, fix the garden area around them, and put the new signs in. He would like to put fiberglass on top of the new signs, in hope that they will last longer.

Donald Cunningham, the supervisor of the Bergen Town Board, agreed that the signs need replacing.

“The signs, it's evident by the photographs, that they need reconditioning and sprucing up,” Cunningham said. “We do want to improve the area for the public. So, I think this is a great plan for what we are trying to move towards.”

Brian Stone, deputy supervisor of the Bergen Town Board, said he is grateful and appreciative that they want to spend their time on the signs.

“I’m sure I speak for the board when I say we appreciate your enthusiasm for the signs and to do this,” Stone said.


July 25, 2016 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bergen Swamps, byron, bergen, news, Destro.

A man from Irving got lost in a wooded area of the Bergen Swamps yesterday, and if not for the swamps' caretaker becoming concerned for his safety and the trained nose of K-9 "Destro" his off-the-trail hike could have turned out very badly.

The caretaker, Mike Merritt, said he noticed a person park at a trailhead and get out of his car and walk into the swamps about 3 p.m., yesterday. Since he had never seen the man before, and he was alone, he was a little concerned right off the bat about his activity.

When the man hadn't returned after two or three hours, his concern grew, he said.

"It was too hot, too muggy and too buggy to be out there that long," Merritt said.

So Merritt walked the entire trail himself and didn't find him.

At 10 o'clock, Merritt thought, 'well, if he's still out there, now he's trespassing' and 'I can call law enforcement without them coming out here unnecessarily.' "  

Deputy Rachel Diehl and Trooper James Moran arrived on scene and ran the plates of the unattended vehicle. They were able to contact family members, who expressed concern that they hadn't heard from Neil Gates for several hours.

Deputy Chris Erion and "Destro" were called to the scene, along with Byron's ambulance and some volunteer firefighters also responded.

With Merritt, who knows the area well, providing guidance, Erion and Destro commenced a search of the woods.  

It took more than two hours, but Gates was located curled up in some cattails where he had apparently gone to try and get water. 

He was dehydrated and had a minor knee injury, according to Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble.

Merritt said the Gates told officials he was a diabetic. 

He was treated by Byron EMTs at the scene and released.

The incident wrapped up at about 1:30 a.m., Merritt said.

Merritt noted that there are signs warning visitors to the swamps not to leave the trails.

"You can get 20 feet off a trail, get turned around and you think you know which direction to go to find a trail, but you won't find one," Merritt said.

Merritt said the concern and professionalism of those who responded last night was impressive. There was no hesitation by law enforcement to take on the search.

"I couldn't have gone out there without them," Merritt said. "With my cell phone dead, out there alone, I couldn't have helped him. He wouldn't have made it much longer."

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