MC to celebrate "Stewardship Forest" designation Thursday

MC to celebrate "Stewardship Forest" designation Thursday

Oct. 15, 2013
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Executive Director for Marketing & Communications

The 140 acres that make up the Maryville College Woods have been recertified as a “Stewardship Forest” by the Forestry Division of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

The College will celebrate the designation during a brief ceremony scheduled for 2:30 p.m., Thurs., Oct. 17, at the kiosk in the College Woods (accessible by Morningside Lane). Rain location will be McArthur Pavilion.

Speakers will include Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart; Dr. Drew Crain, professor of biology; and representatives from the Tennessee Division of Forestry.

The public is invited to join the campus community for this event, learn more about the designation and hear an overview of the 100-Year Woods Plan, which was developed recently by the MC Woods Committee.

“The woods provide many benefits to the MC community,” said Crain, who chairs the Woods Committee. “Trails for running, walking and biking provide recreation and fitness, while science students can study more than 75 amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal species in the woods.

“Students, faculty, staff and community members can find respite in the 140-acre woods through activities as diverse as running, disc golf and bird watching,” he added.

Because of the Woods’ value, maintaining the acreage and keeping it healthy is one goal of the College’s “Renewing our Strength” strategic plan. The woods were designated a “Stewardship Forest” back in 2000, but the plan that guided it ended in 2010.

Earlier this year, the College worked with state foresters to assess the current condition of the woods and develop a stewardship plan that included objectives for ownership and management.

“The forest stewardship plan that resulted gives us many specific recommendations that we need to implement between now and 2023 to improve the health of the woods,” Crain explained. “The most critical recommendation is managing nonnative invasive plant species. English ivy, bush honeysuckle, and privet are negatively impacting many native plant species, and the forest stewardship plan outlines how we can stop this.”

In related work, members of the Woods Committee took a longer view and outlined management of the area for the next 100 years, addressing future land and resource use and woods security.

According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s website, the Forest Stewardship program “makes forestry assistance available to private forest landowners and increases public awareness about wise forest use and management. The program focuses on developing detailed plans for privately owned forestland based on specific objectives of the owner.

“Depending upon landowners’ objectives, stewardship plans may contain detailed recommendations for improvement of wildlife habitat and development of recreational opportunities, as well as for timber establishment, stand improvement and harvesting. Guidelines for prevention of soil erosion, protection of water quality, and preservation of visual values are included in all stewardship plans,” it reads.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.