Management Plan

Much of the Management Plan is the website itself (habitat and life descriptions, rules, uses etc.)  The management plan exists as an adaptable document as more information is aquired, the landscape changes, and new issues arise. The full document may make it to the website someday.  

Statement of Vision Purpose and Priorities

The purpose of the natural areas, especially the Nature Preserve, is to improve and preserve the ecological function of the land, encourage native biodiversity, and promote nature education and scientific research.  Management that encourages biodiversity and conservation of ecology must be the first priority as all other benefits from the land stem from the diversity of natural systems.  On the other hand, all other uses of the natural areas and Nature Preserve must be balanced with and not interfere with the preservation aspect.    The second priority is education and encouraging appreciation of nature and its importance.  Appreciation comes from passive use of the nature preserve, such as hiking or photography, to more active encouragement through education by university courses, visits by local schools, and tours for community groups.  The third priority is research, which must be balanced with the first priority of ecology/biodiversity.  Finally, recreational and athletic use of the nature preserve are encouraged, but limited in order to reduce damage and to preserve the integrity of the natural areas for conservation, education, and research.  

General Management Strategy

Management of the Nature Preserve and natural areas follows the purpose and priorities of conservation, encouraging biodiversity, education, and research in balance with public use.  The general management strategy is to continue or expand programs and projects that have already been established.  Management includes an adaptive approach as some management issues require monitoring and adjusting practices accordingly.  Large scale physical changes, structures, policy changes, research projects or any activity that affects or potentially damages the Nature Preserve are subject to approval by the Steward, and the Committee for the University Environment (CUE), advocates and administration as appropriate.  The same is true for other natural areas, but non preserve natural areas are subject to the Natural Areas Policy signed by President Lois DeFleur which among other things states that development of natural areas should be a last resort and clearly justified.  

Different issues may require passive or active management practices.  Succession in areas where forest is established, immigration of native animals or plants, maintenance of the dams by beavers that influence water levels, and similar natural processes are examples of issues where we “let nature take its course.”  However, monitoring is required in case action is needed.

Active management practices are often required to meet objectives, as is the case in many better known fields of natural resources management.  For example, if feasible and approved, actions are taken in order to: protect fragile and rare habitats from the potentially destructive impacts of human visitation while still allowing compatible and appropriate types of public use; control invasive plants that rapidly take over natural communities; save trees from introduced pathogens; and creating native habitats that are missing and would help encourage biodiversity.  Maintaining the diversity of habitat requires active practices of cutting vegetation, mowing, or digging out soil in areas such as vernal pools.  Specific practices exist for each area and for each type of habitat in the natural areas.