Jan 25, 2011

UCF Arboreteum

If you do not live in central Florida or are not familiar with the local University of Central Florida, this story may not be of interest except that it is indicative of what is happening around the nation.

The Man/Nature interface has always intrigued us. Man is so closely linked to Nature being largely a pawn of Nature's will despite his ability to build and construct shelter and solve a few diseases. Witness the flooding in Australia and the horrible cold in the Northern Hemisphere this year.
But most Men believe they are above and in control of Nature. Witness the typical advertisement on the telly. They often show Man conquering some threat from Nature be it meteorological, disease, your front yard, etc.

We'd like to see Man try to accommodate, respect, and commingle with Nature. As we see below good intentions often go bad.

The UCF Arboreteum is a rather unique greenspace in the middle of one of the largest enrolled universities in the USA

THE UCF ARBORETUM NEEDS YOUR HELP

In Fall 2010, the University of Central Florida Administration requested the conservation easement status be lifted from the eight acres of UCF's main campus known as the Arboretum.
 
This tract of land has served as a teaching tool for UCF students since 1988.  In 2002, St John's Water Management District issued that the land comprising the Arboretum be placed under conservation easement.  This would mean that the land be "retained in its existing natural condition" and protected from "any use of the Property that will impair or interfere with its environmental value."  As a result this land has been conserved as mitigation for destruction of natural wetlands on other areas of campus.

In 2004, Governor Jeb Bush sided with local environmental activists and ordered that UCF place the Arboretum lands under permanent preservation.  Following hurricane season later that year, the Arboretum's inner eight acres of viable flat woods ecosystem sustained "moderate tree fall.”  Rather than remove tree debris to assist in natural vegetative recovery as was outlined in their own letter to SJWMD, UCF bulldozed and mulched all the vegetation within the entire eight acres the day before Thanksgiving.

In 2006, the UCF Board of Trustees approved the planting of non-native species within the Arboretum, in direct violation of the conservation order.

Destruction of the ecosystem and planting of invasive species continued on the plot until 2008, at which time SJWMD issued a citation to the University for not maintaining the conservation easement.  As a result, UCF was ordered to restore the area.  In 2009, UCF submitted their proposal for this work, which would not only restore the ecology and native habitat of the land, but would also provide an incredible teaching opportunity for UCF students.

Restoration was halted in September 2010 when UCF submitted a formal request to SJWMD to lift the conservation easement status on the land.  Lifting the status of conservation on this land means:
- the fine UCF owes for their damage to this land will no longer be levied
- the restoration process of this land will never begin
- UCF will be allowed to develop atop this parcel. 

In exchange for the conservation status of this land, UCF Administration proposes placing a different parcel of land into conservation status.  The "swap" parcel, which is inaccessible from the campus core, had already been declared an area to conserve in the most recent UCF Master Plan.  UCF argues that this land is more "environmentally viable" than the Arboretum land but fails to mention that this is solely due to UCF's mismanagement of this conservation land. 
courtesy of the Florida School of Holistic Living, Orlando newsletter

Conservastore is a source for you to learn how to live in harmony with Nature

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