Students may have noticed some heavy duty landscaping changes on campus recently, as NMU’s Native Plants Area is being relocated.
The Native Plants Area, which consists of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses indigenous to the central Upper Peninsula, is being moved from its original location between the Learning Research Center and the New Science Facility, to a new area between Lot 36 and the New Science Facility.
Ron Sundell, the director of NMU’s environmental science program, said that the Native Plants Area had to be moved to a new location because of expansions proposed in the Campus Master Plan which was released in 2007.
“It (the Native Plants Area) was going to have to go away,” said Sundell.
However, Sundell and several students gathered together 1,000 signatures for a petition that said they wanted the area to stay. After presenting the petition to the administration a solution was found, said Sundell.
“We worked with the administration and we decided that we could move it,” he said.
Sundell said that the move has been beneficial for the project. The approximately 1.5 acre new area has pre-existing features like a retention pond, which will serve as a water source, and a stand of pine trees which will eventually be incorporated into the Native Plants Area.
“We’re real excited about the new site. The university put in a split rail fence so that you know where it is, and there is a temporary sign that explains what we are doing there,” said Sundell.
The transplantation process started early in June when Sundell and three student employees began digging up each individual plant.
“We have been moving plants one at a time. We have replanted literally thousands of plants, and we’re still transplanting,” said Sundell.
Mike Peters, a second year graduate student in biology, was one of the students hired to help move the plants. Peters said that the move has made the Native Plants Area more accessible.
“It’s much more visible now, and I think more students and families are going to stop in and check it out,” he said.
Les Wong, the president of NMU, said that he felt the Native Plants Area benefits the university not only because it showcases the natural beauty of the U.P. but also because it offers a unique opportunity to learn.
“It’s good not only for the students working in it, but also for those going by it who can learn about plants from here. It’s the perfect sort of learning laboratory,” said Wong.