My name is Eliza Hollister; I am a junior here at Skidmore. This past summer I was hired by Sustainable Skidmore as a Steward of the North Woods, and am now continuing that role as a steward this fall semester. Although everything is much busier now than in the summer, there has still been time to get into the North Woods to work on conservation and trail maintenance projects, go for walks with student and community groups, and work on plans and proposals for future projects!
This semester I have been fortunate enough to be the leader of a few informational walks in the North Woods. I led a few general information walks at the beginning of the semester that enabled some first year students to be introduced to the North Woods, as well as recent more specific walks. During Celebration Weekend, community member Jackie Donnelly led a walk in the North Woods to bring attention to the presence of invasive species, specifically Burning Bush, in the North Woods. And most recently, I led a walk for a writing seminar on the topic of animals to connect the presence and role of animals in the North Woods back to their class.
One of the most exciting things in progress right now is a boardwalk construction project on the Red Trail behind the North Woods apartments. The area of the trail where the boardwalk is being built has been subject to groundwater and erosion issues for quite some time, and the old boardwalks that were there previously were no longer safe or sufficiently functional. To build the new boardwalk, two groups of students, the Skidmore Student Conservation Corps and a group from Rik Scarce’s Environmental Sociology class, have teamed up with a project manager from Skidmore Facilities. We started the project just a few weeks ago, and are already more than halfway through! It will be complete before winter. Come check it out!
This semester, the main goal I am working towards is finalizing a concrete plan for the removal of landscaped invasive plants on campus. Burning Bush and Japanese Barberry are the main invasive species of concern, as they are spreading rapidly throughout the North Woods and diminishing ecological diversity therein. The hope is that by eradicating these plants from Skidmore’s main campus, the plants will no longer reseed from campus into the North Woods, and awareness regarding the implications of invasive species will expand within the Skidmore community. To look at where Burning Bush and Japanese Barberry are on campus now, please visit http://storymap.skidmore.edu/invasives.
For other updates, events, and information regarding the North Woods, please feel welcomed to visit our blog at http://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/northwoods.