Students propose land restoration project

Alyssa DeGeorge

Summer biology students developed a restoration plan for a lot on campus

Four Kent State students proposed a restoration plan for a four-acre plot of land near the R-6 parking lot between Cunningham Hall and Eastway Center.

The plan is the product of a habitat restoration summer class in the Department of Biological Sciences. As part of the five-week course, students surveyed the lot, studied other restoration projects in the area and presented a proposal to the office of the university architect.

The students suggested in their proposal the removal of invasive species, the development of a butterfly and hummingbird garden, the building of a rain garden and the creation of a nature trail with informative signs around the site.

“It could be a fantastic little destination on campus,” said Don Lindsey, a senior conservation major.

The students found that some of the 17 species of trees in the area are over 100 years old. According to their report, the plot has been a “permanently saturated wetland since the Wisconsinan Glaciation” which occurred about 14,000 years ago.

Tom Euclide, associate vice president for facilities planning and operations, asked the Department of Biological Sciences to create a plan for the area at the end of spring semester.

“It’s so central to the university, I wanted to find a way to celebrate it’s existence at the university, not just have it hidden behind some brush,” Euclide said.

The proposal includes a campus eco-tour highlighting the restored lot and other important ecological sites at Kent State. The selected locations include the native prairie near the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, the wetland restoration area by the Child Development Center, the Herrick Aquatic Eco Research Facility and the greenhouse behind Cunningham Hall.

“We have access to a lot of natural habitats that have a real biological beauty and interest,” said James Blank, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.

The Department of Biological Sciences and the office of the university architect are collaborating to begin the removal of the invasive species and the development of signage this semester, said Euclide.

Mauri Hickin, a senior zoology major, said the restoration class focused its plan for the lot on promoting education.

“Right now it’s just a partial of trees sitting there next to a parking lot and with this plan, if we have the walkway and the education and the signs, I think it would be a great way to show the community, the administration, the students, what’s there,” Hickin said.

Lindsey said it’s important to restore the lot to a natural Ohio forest that is sustainable with indigenous plants from the area.

“If you grow indigenous plants, then the indigenous wildlife and the indigenous insects and the indigenous birds all are getting what they need,” Lindsey said.

Blank said these restorations could also help enhance the learning experience of Kent State students and new classes may be developed to use the area in the future.

Lindsey said he would like to be involved with the future of the lot.

“There are years of research to be done within 60 feet of the back door of Cunningham Hall,” he said.

Contact Alyssa DeGeorge at [email protected].