Marist Sustainability Committee Offers Fern Tor Tours — MARIST CIRCLE


The Marist College Sustainability Committee organized tours of the Fern Tor Nature Reserve on March 26. The event was led by Emily Ackerman ’23 and Benjamin Gadreault ’25, both of whom are part of the committee’s physical environment panel.

The students were guided along the three main paths of the reserve during the visit. Along the way, Ackerman and Gadreault identified the species living at Fern Tor, from the Siberian squill flower to the greatest tulip tree on the campus. They also presented the reserve vernal pool, a sort of wetland fed by seasonal rainwater. The pond is home to frogs, toads, salamanders and one of Ackerman’s favorite species, slime molda type of fungus.

“They’re not the most common fungal growth in Fern Tor, but I like when I find them because you can spot them from a long way off,” Ackerman said.

When the tour group reached the North Ridge Trail, they were rewarded with a great view of the Hudson River Valley – but not so great was the amount of pollution in this popular part of the preserve, including bottles of water and cans. However, that was part of the reason the committee wanted to organize these tours in the first place.

“We wanted to encourage responsible use of the land to show people to follow the trails and associate people with the land in a nice way instead of just going out there and stomping with their friends,” Ackerman said.

As the group exited the reserve, attendees received a tote bag, eco-responsible stickers and a lapel pin.

A student, Christina Fitzpatrick ’25, found out about the event after seeing a poster in Steel Plant. She enjoyed the experience so much that she hopes to return to the reserve in the future.

“The people who organized the tour were very knowledgeable; it was so much fun,” Fitzpatrick said.

The 13-acre Fern Tor Reserve, owned by Marist, was obtained in 1997, but most students might not know it due to its secluded location at the north end of campus. In fact, Gadreault hasn’t come across a single freshman — aside from himself — who knows it exists.

Indeed, science majors are the main individuals who interact with the flora and fauna residing in the reserve. For example, Richard Feldman, chair of the Marist Department of Environmental Science and Policy, work with his students to remove almost all the Japanese knotweed of Fern Tor.

“It’s a really tough species to deal with because it grows like no other, and it gets 10 feet tall,” Ackerman said. “It’s hard because it’s pretty, so it’s hard for people who don’t want to get rid of it.” Eliminating this invasive species from the ecosystem was quite a feat.

Even though Fern Tor is primarily used by environmental science students for research and capping projects, Ackerman was keen to emphasize that it’s open to anyone. “It’s not just for science majors; everyone can go there.

To further involve the non-scientific Marist community in environmental awareness and dedication, the sustainability committee has planned other events for the end of the spring semester, including a composting demonstration on Wednesday April 20 and a visit to the Donnelly greenhouse on Saturdays. April 30.

As Gadreault said, “I don’t feel like there’s a big sustainability community at Marist; there is not really any attention on it. We can raise awareness by hosting fun events and bringing people here. »


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