Rancho Santa Fe resident’s Eagle Scout project enhances trailhead

By Karen Billing

For his Eagle Scout project, Rancho Santa Fe’s Blake Chaffin hoped to bring some care and attention to a San Elijo Ecological Reserve trailhead, just past the lower entrance to San Dieguito Park on El Camino Real in the Rancho Santa Fe area.

Blake, a member of Boy Scout Troop 766 and a sophomore at Canyon Crest Academy, took down an old 200-foot-long split rail fence that had been falling apart and replaced it with a new log pole fence. His project also included planting and the placement of a new trailhead sign.

Blake received help from fellow Troop 766 scout members Sam Dutt, a freshman at Canyon Crest, and Nick and Tanner Stiker, sophomores at Cathedral Catholic High School. The boys spent close to 150 hours on the work at the entrance to the trail that leads all the way to the nature center near the ocean on Manchester Drive.

San Elijo Ecological Preserve extends from between Solana Beach and Encinitas inland to Ranch Santa Fe and includes nearly 1,000 acres of habitat, with more than 700 species of plants and animals and seven miles of trails.

“I thought it would be good to clean it up,” said Blake, noting a lot of people might not know there was access to a two-mile trail to the ocean. “The old sign was hidden further back, now it’s in the forefront.”