One thing you guys know me for is the love of the nature around where we live. Much of this nature is on the property of IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne Campus), of which I am an alum (hard is that may seem to believe). And one thing you have learned from me in the time I have done this blog- IPFW is no friend of nature.
Without going into the many and increasing mistakes this institution of higher learning and no greater wisdom- and they are enormous- I want to take you on a quick review of their land mismanagement in the 7 years or so we have lived here.
It started when the lovely cover- vast honeysuckle hedges- along the canal on the greenway trail- were removed. This set in motion an erosion that is pushing many areas along the trail west into the canal. Coupled with injudicious removal of trees on the other side helping to make that edge near the river to fall in along long stretches, it makes sense to me that the trailways committee or whatever they call themselves haven't bothered to improve (ie pave) that section despite five years of promises.
Next came the loop trail they cut into the woods, so they could have some place for their fitness classes to run (as if they couldn't do it from their own River Walk to Shoaff Park; no, that wasn't enough). This trail, you might recall, followed nearly exactly a trail that the once plentiful deer in the woods used. I know, Scrappy and I followed it enough, and used to meet plenty of deer.
Then it was the meadow's turn. On the east side of the woods USED to be a grassy meadow. Rabbits and groundhogs lived their, killdeers and meadowlarks nested there, foxes hunted there. And, most importantly, it was where rainwater flowed from the clay soil of the woods and made a plush, green environment- not quite a wetland, but it kept everything in balance. Then IPFW stripped it down, flattened it out, put in two terraced soccer fields- which quickly experienced erosion as the water still came down and instead of rich soil where grass flourished for it to settle into, it hit the hard packed, UNTILED soccer pitches, meaning that they would only really be useful during dry stretches. They also removed a clump of trees at the eastern foot of the terrace- leaving one line which, with no other protection, was blown down en masse during last spring's big windstorm. A windstorm which also took down many of the trees still standing along the greenway trail after IPFW decided to chop out about half of those beautiful trees that lined the trail along the main soccer fields.
Last year, they put in the new ped bridge which connects the north end of the greenway trail to that south of California road. Not a bad plan- but then they decided to unnecessarily rip all the cover out around it, and that area is already starting to erode into the creek. With that, they also tore most of the cover around the south and east sides of the woods out. By this time, you had gone from commonly seeing wildlife to only if you were lucky. But wait! The ham-handed attack on nature isn't over yet!
When we took the Bobby G.'s on a tour of our stomping grounds, I took special pride in showing them one of my favorite spots. Hard against the fenced in south end of IPFW's main soccer field is a trail, with the fence on one side and a row of trees on the other. The shade they provided made that small stretch of trail an idyllic place to rest up mid walk. It was where we saw our second fox, as well as many groundhogs and deer. Just past them was the less glamorous view of the creek's delta with the St Joseph River- an area that was more often than not a stinky mud flat.
Sunday morning, we discovered that IPFW had removed the row of trees. Every one of them.
What was their offense? Were they casting too much shade on the corner of the precious soccer field? Are the runners and joggers so afraid of a mugger accosting them from behind a tree?
IPFW apparently never met a tree it didn't like to cut down. At least, on our side of the river. One day, I expect the woods will become a woods of streetlights instead of trees. Soon all of the beautiful nature that Scrappy and I have know the past seven years will either be soccer pitch, running track, or eroded pit. Because some one in charge (assuming there is someone IN charge; you can google IPFW news from about the last two years enough to bring THAT into question) just says, "Cut it down", without ever seeing or caring what he is ordering. IPFW, at least the Purdue half of it, claims to be "one of the nation's elite programs in ecology". I would have to say from the evidence here that the rain forests of Brazil must be littered with Purdue graduates. You can see here and here some of the beauty that has been run off by the so-called Purdue "ecology", which has more to do with getting that last drop of blood out of the turnip.
I am going to try to give Purdue access to this post and see if they want to respond. I don't really care if they do or not; the damage is done, and by their recent actions in other areas, I would assume that they will continue no matter who gets hurt. But I am fair, and if they have something to say for themselves, I will print it. In the meantime, I will continue to spread the word that the Purdue commitment to "ecology" is hypocritical at best, and show the University for what it is- a mere money making machine.