The Sweet Smell of Sewanee Wildflowers
Fragrant flowers are starting to bud in bold colors across the Sewanee Domain around this time of year. Shakerag and Lost Cove are two of the most popular places to catch a glimpse of this dazzling botanical display. The flowers exist all around Sewanee, but in these two spots they are protected from the white-tailed deer, a popular predator who view these beauty’s as floor candy fresh for the nibbling.
A visit from the Southern Environmental Law Center
On Tuesday, April 9th, Anne Davis and Keith Johnston, two members of the Southern Environmental Law Center, visited Sewanee to talk about hot issues in their line of work during two internal meetings, a presentation to a Conservation Biology class, and a lunch open to students. Issues from land conservation to the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing “fracking” were discussed.
Punks in Decay
Human inhabitants have had a substantial impact upon the forest ecology atop the Cumberland Plateau and subsequently Sewanee’s Domain has a variety of forests. While some areas have been harvested or planted with monoculture plantations such as the non-native white pine, others remain relatively unmanaged.
Drilling on The Domain?
Recent conversations are tackling the prospect of the University potentially drilling for natural gas on the Domain, noting the potential for locally sourced natural gas extraction. However, drilling done on February 22nd will be strictly for educational and research purposes. Previously, Sewanee met with geologists and other consultants to consider the possibility for hydraulic fracturing “fracking” on the Domain, with proponents arguing in favor of a source of local natural gas, as opposed to natural gas transported form a distant location. However, this proposal has been shelved for now, citing the University’s commitment to sustainability. Presently, drilling on the Domain will be for research use only.
Sustainability Outreach Takes a Hold at Sewanee
As Sewanee looks to become an ever more sustainable institution, the University is also looking to assist members of the entire community in achieving a level of sustainability of their own. While most people equate sustainability as simply environmentalism and recycling, it links environmental stability with economic vitality and social justice. Sewanee hopes to not only help the planet but also help the local community at the same time.
Sewanee: Zanmi ak Ayiti (“Friends with Haiti”)
Associate professor of biology Deb McGrath is working toward a potential solution to the massive deforestation problem in Haiti: payment for ecosystem services (PES). PES is a system whereby incentives are offered to land owners to manage their land for ecosystem services such as watershed protection, reduced erosion, and carbon sequestration. McGrath, recent graduate Keri Bryan (C’12) and a handful of current students are doing extensive work with Zanmi Agrikol (Haitian Creole for “Partners in Agriculture,” a sister organization to Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health) to make PES a reality for the struggling farmers of the Haitian Central Plateau.