Scout to build bridges at FISH Preserve

Matthew Kurutz
Matthew Kurutz is raising funds to build bridges in the Cortez FISH Preserve. - Steve Kurutz | Submitted

CORTEZ – Boy Scout Matthew Kurutz wants to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest accomplishment in the organization, and he plans to build bridges to do it.

Three bridges, in fact – all of them foot bridges over water in the FISH Preserve in Cortez. He also plans to remove some non-native Brazilian pepper trees.

FISH Preserve bridge
Foot bridges in the FISH Preserve in Cortez are in need of replacement. – Matthew Kurutz | Submitted

The FISH Preserve is a 95-acre preserve on Sarasota Bay at the east end of the historic fishing village of Cortez. Proceeds from Cortez Commercial Fishing Festivals since 1981 have funded purchase of the land, bit by bit, and volunteers with the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage are responsible for overseeing its restoration to a native state.

Matt, a Bayshore High School 10th grader, set up a table at the last fishing festival in February to raise funds for materials to build the bridges, including Trex decking, a low maintenance, composite wood alternative.

He also has worked to raise funds at the Cortez Cultural Center, mentored by Kaye Bell and Bob Landry, and at the Cortez Nautical Flea Market last month. He is planning more fundraising activities at other local venues.

In addition to fundraising, Matt is responsible for planning the project, recruiting two groups of six to eight helpers each and executing the plan. A contractor will supervise the project, said his dad, Steve Kurutz.

A scout for seven years, including Cub Scouts, Matt is a violinist with the Bayshore High School orchestra and is a Junior ROTC member. His interests include agriculture and working as a fish and wildlife officer.

Email Matt at [email protected] or his dad at [email protected].