Environmental Studies Students Benefit from Grant

Ursinus Environmental Studies students will be rooting a few hundred tree and shrub plantings in upland areas of Hunsberger Woods, an opportunity which allows students to provide stewardship of the tract and demonstrate an overall commitment to watershed health in the Perkiomen.

TreeVitalize, through the Montgomery County Conservation District, has approved a grant for $8,104 to fund forest enhancement and restoration in Collegeville Borough’s Hunsberger Woods open space area, the 27-acre wooded natural area that the College jointly owns with the Borough of Collegeville.

Funding for the grants comes from a partnership between the Conservation District, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and AQUA.

“We are excited to continue ecological enhancement and stewardship efforts in Hunsberger,” said Associate Professor Patrick Hurley. He will incorporate the planting as part of his fall “Forests and People” class.  The work will also build on the rain garden project in Hunsberger  Woods now in progress through the Land Ethic capstone seminar taught by Professor and Department Chair Richard Wallace.

The project also builds on ongoing partnerships between the Ursinus Environmental Studies Department, Pennsylvania Horticulture Society and Perkiomen Valley High School. “This includes ongoing and ad hoc cooperation with the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy and other regional projects, both through education-oriented work and on-the-ground stewardship contributions by Environmental Studies students at all levels,” said Hurley.

Although the 2013 grant is new, it builds on a continuing partnership that Drs. Hurley and Wallace initiated last year with the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society, and which has to date produced more than $50,000 in grant monies for programming being undertaken by Ursinus students and faculty with multiple community partners.

Last spring students, under Dr. Wallace’s direction, developed a stewardship plan for Hunsberger Woods in collaboration with the Borough of Collegeville.TreeVitalize granted funds for trees to be planted in the tract, which were planted last April. TreeVitalize is a public-private partnership to help restore tree cover, educate citizens about planting trees as an act of caring for our environment, and as a response to a loss of trees in Pennsylvania’s metropolitan areas.