Pond, Park and Classroom: Big Plans for Webster’s Natural Area

| November 1, 2013
Natural Area at Webster University

Adjunct biology professor Jeff DePew explains the benefits and environmental function of the Natural Area located behind the Garden Avenue parking garage.

More than 700 students live on Webster University’s campus, but this corner of Webster Groves is also home to frogs, insects and even a family of Mallard ducks that have been spotted walking across Edgar Road. Making sure that everyone co-exists in the most sustainable way possible is a current project of the Sustainability Coalition.

Adjunct biology professor Jeff DePew, along with more than a dozen student, staff, and faculty volunteers, labored tirelessly as a part of the annual Webster Works Worldwide service day removing algae, trash, debris, weeds, and non-native plants from the University’s Natural Area, that small body of water that sits behind the Garden Avenue parking garage.

“When we have the opportunity to restore these natural habitats in our urban community, we would be crazy not to,” said DePew. “What most don’t understand is that every drop of rain and act of littering on and near campus grounds contaminates the pond.”

“More than 50 percent of the campus storm water, every dumped Coke, flicked cigarette, cup thrown out the window ends up in this area. It’s staying right here on campus.”

While most students refer to this part of campus as “the pond,” the official name is the Natural Area, a bio-retention basin designed to collect and filter storm water from campus. Over the past three years, DePew and a number of students, faculty and interested members of the St. Louis community have spent more than 300 man-hours developing the Natural Area.

Thanks to funds from the University, sponsorship and partners from local organizations and businesses, these volunteer hours have helped develop the area to more than just a basin of water.  The area now has a sign and student developed plans hope to further develop it into a living classroom for the campus and community, that also will serve as a natural park where students and the community can relax.

Read the full story at webster.edu.

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Category: St. Louis Campus News, Webster News

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