Sustainability

The Fred L. Tobiason Outdoor Learning Center

- A Habitat Restoration project

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For information on our next work meeting on when you can get involved, tune into the home page or check out the link of important dates.  If you would like to schedule a special work party for your own group, please click here.

The Habitat Restoration Project is a student-led project supported by the Sustainability Office that seeks to restore habitat South of the UC and on the adjacent western slope. The area was at one time dominated by invasive species such as Himalayan blackberry, English ivy and bindweed, but volunteers have already begun to remove these invasive species. The project will re-establish native plants carefully selected and consistent with historical plant communities of the Oak Woodland/Prairie Mosaic vegetation zone.

According to the Washington State Natural Heritage Program, prairie and oak woodlands are some of the most imperiled ecosystems in Western Washington. For example, native grasslands in the South Puget Sound area have declined to less than 3% of their pre-settlement areal extent.  Factors contributing to the decline and degradation of these ecosystems include fire suppression and associated conifer tree invasion, invasion of non-native species, grazing, and urban and agricultural conversion.

PLU has impressive groves of oaks along the hillside that divides Upper and Lower Campus and is well connected to surrounding habitats in the watershed. Along Clover Creek there are several sites actively being restored by the Cascade Land Conservancy and Pierce County Surface Water Management. These habitats as well as the near by Upland Biodiversity Management Area of McCord Air force Base and Fort Lewis make our campus an ideal site for restoration as a habitat corridor.

This project also provides an opportunity for students and the greater community to gain experiential knowledge of environmental stewardship and native plants. Volunteer opportunities will be advertised on this website and through the PLU Volunteer Center.

The project also will create an outdoor classroom, where the wider community will be invited to explore the relationship between humans and the environment though interpretive signage.  The signage will recognize the natural history of the area, including the historic presence of Clover Creek on campus and indigenous populations, water quality issues and other human impacts on the environment.

The volunteerism, stewardship and community connections of this project may allow PLU to apply its experience with habitat restoration to a greater portion of its greenbelt hillside and eventually to a portion of the PLU Golf Course, part of which is planned to be developed into a sports complex, but the southern portion would be an ideal site for prairie restoration due to its native prairie soils, proximity to other prairie habitats, and the presence of Mima-mound formations.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Habitat Restoration project, please contact us at restore@plu.edu or feel free to check out our important dates link to find information on our next work party.