Janice Hawkins Park on the Troy Campus is not only attracting attention for the peaceful, natural setting, but also for the environmental issues construction of the park is addressing.
Two grants – one from the Alabama Forestry Commission and the other from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) – are helping to fund the improvements to a previously unused and unmaintained area of campus.
And while the environmental impacts will be felt on the Troy Campus, Mark Salmon, director of the University’s Physical Plant, believes the work being done will help to spread awareness of “best practices” in dealing with invasive species of plants and in stream restoration.
As a part of the two grants, the University has hosted a series of workshops that bring professionals in the field together with campus and community members to share knowledge on topics related to the project.
“These workshops serve as a training time for all of us, but they also create awareness in the community,” Salmon said. “This is a visible opportunity to showcase our efforts as a University. These projects, when we talk in terms of best practices for dealing with issues, have the potential to put the campus on the map both at a state level and beyond.”
The Forestry Commission grant enabled the University to work toward the removal of invasive, non-indigenous species of plant life – namely kudzu – and to restore natural vegetation to the area, according to Salmon.
The ADEM grant went for restoration of a system of streams on the property.
“There are several natural springs that flow through that area,” Salmon said. “This grant has helped us eliminate elements that contribute to erosion and deal with sediment issues within the water supply.”
Additional phases of the park’s construction will include the establishment of walking trails throughout the park area and the development of an outdoor amphitheater.
“We want people to be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the setting,” Salmon said. “When it comes down to it, sustainability is about preserving the environment we live in today and passing that along to our children in as good or better shape than it is today.”