Conservation Council Minutes

Thursday, Feb 11, 2010

Conservation Council Meeting - minutes

Present: Amanda Lavigne, Matthias Nevins, Catherine Boulatoff, Brad Baldwin, Rick Scott, Louise Gava, Marcus Sherburne, Mary Kohnstamm, Andrew Skaggs, Molly Parren

Absent: Lindsay Guerin

3.10 p.m. Amanda started the meeting by describing the objectives and functions of the Conservation Council. Objective of today's meeting: to discuss "ground policy."

Louise asked Marcus to talk about the campus use plan and SLU priorities in terms of ground policy (landscaping, pressure from different groups, different uses...)

3.15. Marcus explained that for in the past 10 years, SLU has reached a nice "plateau"; with the current fiscal crisis and the attempt to attain sustainability, the Ground Department is going to meet new challenges. There is a need to reduce cost, while at the same time be more sustainable (which, often, means more costly). He addressed several points:

1) First goal (in next 5 years): "be pesticide free" (excluding sport athletic facilities)

            Currently, use of Round Up, unless the area has a major problem (for example, invasion of Japanese beetles).

            To get rid of weeds (for improved aesthetics) without using Round Up, without increasing cost.


            Cutting cost: decrease in labor hours (in summer, ½ students working for the Dept)

            SLu has not purchased any new vehicle for the past 10 years. On any given day, at least 2 vehicles broken down on campus.

2) Use Plan:   

* No mows (ties into Johnson Hall). No mow areas save a considerable amount of money.

* Need to have a "regular campus" (campus needs to look consistent)

Hopefully, this will tie in cost saving/ sustainability and a walking campus. Note: Having a walking campus is associated with major fund issue. Roads need to be diverted for example.

3) Role within landscaping:

  • maintain (not go backwards)
  • Special occasion (Alumni week-end, graduation...)

For SLU, since the level of maintenance all year round is high already, there is no major change for special occasions

Mark works with Tom Greene (studies pattern uses of students for example), and landscape architects, to develop the new master plan for the university (the last one developed in 1988). The new plan includes more "no mow areas" and represents a more conservationist approach to landscaping.

As of now, very little contracting; in house snow removal, mulch bed maintenance, mowing, pruning, vehicle maintenance...

5) Other ideas/topics:

* Birdhouses. Already some in place. Note: importance to identify an area that will not be used.

* Use of wildflowers to attract butterflies - started

* Beebox - upcoming?

* Joint compost with canton village - to start in a few years, to be applied on campus

* Asphalt - in summer, will start removing it when/where not needed. At the same time, need to add more in parking lots.

* biodiesel - currently not enough of a supply. Regulations require that to have a tank (>2000 gallons) one needs to have fire suppressants on site (and these are very costly); therefore SLU needs to find a source of supply on a regular basis (instead of stocking up).

* Fertilizers (synthetic and organic) - upcoming, the use of synthetic fertilizer will be decreased by 20%. Some areas will not be fertilized. The Psdt's House will receive organic fertilizer (liquid, through the irrigation system).

* Water use - upcoming - decrease use by 50%.

* Littering: takes one hour on Friday mornings to pick up by crew.

* Tree maintenance: 2 years ago, SLU went to an "all NY made trees" (lots of what is growing in Ontario can also be found in this area). Have an arboretum on campus.

* Electric push mowers (wish), but more expensive.

3.40 p.m. Amanda asked how the Conservation Council could best help/ contribute.


* Mark: pesticide free: it would be great to find 5 different "pesticide free" universities to talk to (learn from)- note: really pesticide free, not lip service.

* Brad: encourage students not to throw litter ("drunk walk").

* Mark: stricter policies for vendors and fac. Operators. (keep off the lawn)

* Molly: students' interest in growing own food (already, Dana has herb garden), such as raspberry or blueberry bushes. It would have to be on the outskirt of campus.

* Brad: to post on the Green pages a catching one line story ( "did you know that every Friday morning, .....?)

After thanking Mark for coming and explaining to the council what his work entailed in such an interesting manner, Amanda adjourned the meeting (4 p.m. or so).