Close cooperation and collaboration are the keys to utilizing and managing campus natural areas
Moravian College and Theological Seminary traces its roots to 1742 with the establishment of the first school for girls in the American colonies. Today, Moravian’s campus at Main Street and West Elizabeth Avenue, its Priscilla Payne Hurd Campus in Bethlehem’s downtown historic district, and its athletic complex on Center Street and East Elizabeth Avenue comprise 86 acres. The campus boasts over 2000 trees, many of which were planted in the late-18th and early-19th centuries. A plan to inventory and catalog this $4.5 million resource was initiated in 2013. The college’s Facilities, Management, Planning and Construction (FMPC) Department, Sustainability Committee, and United Student Government equally provided funding for the project. A coalition of local land conservancies, watershed groups, nature centers, and the Department of Biological Sciences, with support from a grant from the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, are working on a regional Conservation Landscaping initiative. One of the first projects was to install a native plant rain garden on Moravian’s Hurd campus. This garden was designed to address a stormwater runoff problem and to create a demonstration habitat garden open to the public. Could so many stakeholders coordinate their energies to manage these natural resources effectively?
Professional arborists from the F.A. Bartlett Tree Experts Company, working with students from the Ecology (BIOL 360) class, inventoried 720+ trees, including a Scotch Elm (Ulmus glabra) that is recognized as a state champion for its age and size. The information is stored on an interactive website that allows users to review and interact with the tree inventory, including data regarding geographical location, pictures, tree attributes, tree risk management, arboricultural recommendations, and arboricultural work history. FMPC staff, students in the college’s GIS course, and others are able to use the database for research, planning and maintenance purposes. In Fall 2014 FMPC identified and prepared the site for the campus rain garden, and students from the Environmental Science (ENVR 112) class and the campus ECO club planted the garden. Soil and weather monitoring equipment will be installed in Summer 2015, turning the space into an outdoor laboratory for a number of courses. Both projects will also involve first-year seminar students and students from an elementary and high school. These projects illustrate how close cooperation and collaboration between faculty, students, staff, and community groups are the keys that produce mutually beneficial outcomes to institutional stakeholders that enhance campus sustainability.