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DATE: Dec. 9, 2002

Natural Areas honored for education

DEARBORN---The Natural Areas at the University of Michigan-Dearborn received national recognition earlier this month for its contributions to wildlife habitat conservation, environmental stewardship and increasing native biodiversity. The campus received the Corporate Lands for Learning certification at the Wildlife Habitat Council's 14th annual symposium in Baltimore Nov. 14.

Last year, the campus was recognized by the same group for the ecological quality of the habitats in the Natural Areas. "The Corporate Lands for Learning (CLL) certification awarded this year honors us for the educational programs that we offer on our certified lands," according to Orin Gelderloos, professor of biology and director of the Natural Areas. "The outreach to the community that we do is an important part of the certification."

UM-Dearborn includes about seventy acres, approximately one-third of the campus, which are maintained as a natural/historical preserve. In addition, the university serves as a steward of 225 acres of floodplain, which is part of the Wayne County park system, on its western border. The Natural Areas site consists of several habitats including sycamore-willow floodplain forest, beech and sugar maple forest, meadow, apple orchard, dogwood path, lake, old field and upper-river floodplain. The primary management strategy in these areas is preservation, and volunteers help with invasive species control, pond enhancement, rotational mowing and bird and turtle monitoring.

"This recognition from the Wildlife Habitat Council is one more indication of the global importance of the work we do to preserve the environment right here in our own neighborhood," Gelderloos said. "The natural habitats on our campus are important in an ecological sense, of course, but they are also important learning resources for the people and communities in southeast Michigan."

Many UM-Dearborn courses use the campus's Natural Areas for science and environmental studies, and Henry Ford Community College and Wayne State University students and faculty members also use the site for a variety of purposes. Throughout the year, UM-Dearborn's Natural Areas sponsors educational programs for schoolchildren, community groups and the public. Each year, approximately 15,000 children and adults participate in these programs. In addition, more than 30,000 visitors take the opportunity to walk the trails and appreciate the beauty and serenity of this location in the heart of one of the most industrialized regions of North America.

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