|The Trustees of Indiana University have set aside 446 acres of university-owned land near the Bloomington campus for a research and teaching preserve.
The preserve, comprised of two parcels of rugged forest and wetland, will benefit the entire university community, according to IU President Myles Brand. He saluted the move, saying it was a “wise decision for the long-run benefit of IU.”
Michael Hamburger, IUB associate professor of geological sciences and the chairman of the special task force which recommended the preserve, predicted an immediate benefit for science students and faculty studying everything from life cycles of migratory birds to long-term regeneration of forests to myriad other subjects.
“This project will provide a portal from the classroom into the natural world,” Hamburger said. A number of other research universities have similar natural laboratories, Hamburger noted.
IU’s preserve includes 185 acres of Griffy Woods, which is within a one- to two-mile walk or bicycle ride of the Bloomington campus, and 261 acres along Lake Monroe, which is a 15-to-20-minute drive from campus. Both locations will provide opportunities for long-term research projects that won’t be jeopardized by future development and that, according to Hamburger, could attract additional public and private funding.
Moreover, the preserve demonstrates IU’s commitment to research—a sort of in-kind contribution—which also could generate grants, Hamburger added.
“If you think about this in terms of an investment,” said J. Terry Clapacs, IU vice president and chief administrative officer, “this preserve represents $2.1 million in new investment in research at Indiana University.”
Both preserve areas also are adjacent to government-owned property. In the case of the Griffy Woods Preserve, the City of Bloomington has expressed some interest in a companion research area of its own. Such a move would be “an excellent symbol of collaboration between the City of Bloomington and the university,” Hamburger said.
No new funding was requested for the teaching preserve. IU acquired the Griffy Woods area from 1908 to 1954 and the Lake Monroe or Moore’s Creek Preserve in two sections in 1967 and 1987.
Clapacs and Hamburger said any additional costs associated with the preserve likely will be covered by current administrative and academic units’ budgets.