Campus preserve undergoes renovations
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 17:04
Located near the athletic fields and the Fisher Student Union, the Bluethenthal Wildflower Preserve features a meandering nature trail with cypress and pine trees. This secluded area gives visitors the feeling they’re in the middle of a wooded forest, complete with Venus Flytraps and pitcher plants.
The campus preserve will be undergoing renovations in the coming weeks. It was created to allow students the opportunity to study the ecology.
But in recent years, the preserve has become overgrown and been neglected.
“The [physical plant] crew has been busy with keeping well trafficked areas maintained,” said Karen Tobiassen, natural science curator. “The wildflower preserve is in the middle of campus and there is little time left to devote to it.”
The idea to renovate the preserve came from a student organization, Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE).
WiSE began meeting in early March to discuss community projects.
“The preserve came into the picture when we were discussing experiments or research we could do to assist the university in making decisions, especially with the construction occurring,” said WiSE President Lindsey Baker. “The general health and wellbeing of the preserve was discussed, and we all agreed that it needed some help to be revitalized.”
The group’s primary concern with cleaning up the preserve was the insectivorous plant area.
“This [insectivorous plant] area, to me, is the pinnacle feature of the preserve and it is in the worst condition of overgrowth and under neglect,” said Baker. “We can go in and remove the overgrowth where the Venus Flytraps and pitcher plants are.”
“There are other areas we would like to work on eventually, but this certain area of the preserve caught our attention,” said WiSE Vice President, Liz Scire. “Right now, there are weeds, grasses, ferns, and other plants taking over the beds and surrounding areas. We hope to preserve as much natural vegetation as we can while giving the carnivorous plants a place of their own to thrive and be viewed for educational and other purposes.”
By obtaining sponsors, WiSE is also looking at replacing the park benches featured in the preserve. The benches will be placed around the beds so students, classes and community members can enjoy the environment of the preserve.
The group will also be working with other student organizations on campus to complete the project. A partnership with the Women's Studies Student Association (WSSA) is already in progress.
"The WSSA is committed to volunteer efforts that positively affect the campus community and the greater Wilmington area," said WSSA President Lauren Habig, "As a testament to our passion for supporting initiatives set into action by women, we are collaborating with WiSE on the preservation project."
“I see this project spanning over the summer sessions and into the fall because availability of students to help volunteer is sometimes hard to schedule,” said Baker. “In the long term, maintenance will be required from the university or volunteers to ensure the preserve does not become overgrown again.”
The restoration project is looking for volunteers but is eager to begin in the meantime.
“If people see we’re working [to restore the area], we may get more volunteers,” said Tobaissen.
Tobaissen said that every so often the physical plant team clears and adds wood chips to the trail in the preserve.
“We’re five people short [on our crew],” said Tobaissen. “We’ve been maintaining more areas with less people so it’s really hard to get in there.”
The crew tending to the preserve has also taken on several other landscaping projects on campus, including the memorial gardens and the camellia collection in front of Hoggard Hall.
“The area was once very park-like and has just gotten rundown due to lack of manpower,” said Scire. “This restoration project will make the wildflower preserve beautiful to see, interesting for lab walks, and bring back the pride that was once held in UNCW’s wildflower preserve.”
In restoring the reserve, WiSE hopes to make the area attractive for students, administrators and community members.
“This project ought to make the preserve more user-friendly,” said Tobaissen, “It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of campus. We may even see some wildflowers return.”