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Mission S.T.O.P. Save the Outstanding Preserve

February 8, 2011

Dear Community Leader,

We would like to ask for your support regarding the recognition and perpetual legal protection of the native flora and fauna present in the FAU Ecological Preserve on the Boca Raton campus to prevent any further development on this site. With the construction of the stadium and Innovation Village the native species are now restricted to only 90 acres; a small area compared to the 140 acres present in 2005. Further fragmentation and loss of habitat is part of the near future plans.  The FAU preserve is still big enough to sustain a healthy gopher tortoise (threatened) population and native plant communities. It may support a sustainable burrowing owl (species of special concern) population too. The long, deep burrows dug by the gopher tortoise support over 350 species of wildlife and contribute to the biodiversity of vegetation. The continued loss of land reduces the number of tortoise burrows available which results in a considerable loss of species diversity.

We understand that it is important for FAU to continue to expand to meet the growing demand of new students seeking research and education but it seems possible to divert new expansion projects to any of the numerous vacant lots on campus. Additionally, the more efficient use of space already designated for parking seems a more cost effective and agreeable option (decrease of median space, multi-level parking garages, etc.).

The reasons why, in addition to the protection of state and federally listed species, further development should not occur on the FAU preserve are:

  1. 1. The preserve contributes greatly to the effectiveness of FAU as a major research facility. It functions as a research laboratory, an outdoor classroom, and an area for the community to experience wildlife.
    1. In 2010, over 400 students, faculty, staff and the general public ventured into the preserve as part of research efforts and educational activities lead by our registered student organization, SEEDS and the Environmental Sciences Program.
    2. Undergraduate students have represented FAU at nationwide conferences, receiving over $4,000 in research and conservation grants based solely on efforts in the preserve, including tortoise research and the creation of a nature trail. Additionally, an NSF funded undergraduate research fellow is conducting fundamental ecological research based in the preserve.
    3. The FAU Environmental Sciences Program has initiated a Methods of Field Ecology class (BSC 4930), which utilizes the preserve as its classroom.
  2. 2. A key component missing on the FAU campus is a native environment where the FAU community can enjoy the beauty and tranquility of nature.
    1. Similar to the Living Room Theater and the new engineering building, the preserve increases the aesthetic appeal of FAU and adds to the diversity of available recreational opportunities.
  3. 3. By conserving the preserve, we are setting an example of environmental sustainability by demonstrating our compassion for life and our understanding of the importance in maintaining balance. Additionally, we are continuing the “greening” of our campus.
    1. FAU is already on this path with the construction of green buildings, solar powered trash compacters, on-campus recycling, and other green practices.

Please help us take the next step on this green path.

 

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