|Volume 5, No. 1||
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
In my notes to you last quarter, I spoke of my affirmation of the College’s vision and mission and my conviction that sustainability is the key integrating concept that must guide our educational, research, outreach, and development programs. In the changed world in which we find ourselves after the events of September 11, 2001, sustainability assumes a heightened importance in light of an increased awareness of the fragility of our world and its institutions and an increased resolve to conserve and sustain the world’s resources for our communities and families. As scientists and teachers in the disciplines and professions supporting natural resources management, we are committed to research and education toward sustainable production processes, and the protection and restoration of ecological functions and services so that future generations may enjoy the same products and amenities that now exist.
One of the organizing themes around which the College is structuring its programs is land and ecosystem management in an urbanizing world. Sustainability in this context necessarily involves a wide range of ecosystems impacted by urbanization—from the urban core to wildlands. The College, because of its geographical location and the diverse faculty expertise, is in a unique position to address policy, resource, and science issues emerging at the interface between humans and other organisms and populations. The Puget Sound Region represents a model system in which urbanization, rural interface, and wildlands are all present and undergoing rapid changes. Salmon and other rare and endangered organisms have become policy “drivers” forcing the public and private sectors to address their individual and collective behaviors.
The College has the potential to become a world-recognized resource for urban problem solving at a regional, national, and global level. Presently, we have three important foundation elements for the development of such a resource: the Center for Streamside Studies, the Center for Urban Horticulture, and the newly funded, multidisciplinary program in urban ecology. Other UW resources are also available, including the Restoration Ecology Network, a collaboration among the UW’s three campuses. The urban sustainability hub provides a contextual framework through which a wide range of existing and emerging efforts in urban environmental and resource issues involving the interaction among plants, animals, and humans are integrated.
I would like to present to you a developing vision that will help the College realize this potential. The College’s Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH) has long been an essential part of the College’s research and outreach programs. The concept for the center began in the 1970s as a shared vision of the UW and the Pacific Northwest horticultural community. The UW envisioned a program that would make greater research and educational use of the Washington Park Arboretum. The community needed a center of information, resources, and leadership for the region’s many horticultural activities and organizations. CUH was established in 1980 and quickly became a model for similar efforts both nationally and internationally. In 1988, management responsibility for CUH was transferred from the UW Provost’s Office to CFR. Presently, CUH’s mission is “to apply horticulture to natural and human-altered landscapes to sustain natural resources and the human spirit.” Its goal is to develop and apply the most current knowledge about plants, plant populations, and larger assemblages to the solution of problems that are generated in largely urban and urbanizing environments. Although founded with a largely urban focus, research programs range from highly human-impacted systems to wildland environments and it is this continuum that provides opportunities for collaboration across various programs of the College.
CUH is responsible for management of the Union Bay Natural Area, where emergent wetlands, shoreline, and upland woodland and meadows of the natural area are one of three foci for the Restoration Ecology Network and provide a living classroom and wildlife sanctuary within the urban context of the UW’s East Campus. The center co-manages the 230-acre Washington Park Arboretum located in Seattle adjacent to several urban neighborhoods. Center facilities include demonstration and test gardens, including the Soest Garden, a modern greenhouse and nursery, office space, research laboratories, the Otis Hyde herbarium and the Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library. The center also has formal collaborative relationships with Washington State University/King County Cooperative Extension and partnerships with the Northwest Horticultural Society and many other horticulture organizations.
As you know, in May 2001 CUH was the target of a devastating act of arson. Merrill Hall, CUH’s main building, was demolished and the remaining portions remain unfit for occupancy. The Washington State Legislature committed funds to the UW to rebuild Merrill Hall. Individual and corporate donors have also pledged support to restore and enhance the center’s facilities and programs. The destruction of Merrill Hall provides an opportunity to explore an expansion of the center’s vision for the future, and CUH Director Tom Hinckley and I have worked together to develop an expanded vision. In this broader role, we see CUH as a very important part of an urban sustainability hub. The center will assume an expanded leadership, and an integrative and outreach role encompassing urban horticulture, forestry, ecology, water, wildlife, and restoration ecology. In short, we envision a broader leadership and facilitation role for CUH to support a wide array of educational, demonstrational, research, and outreach/distance learning programs that enhance and enlarge University–community exchange. CUH will be instrumental in providing a forum for collaborative discussion and outreach, a laboratory for research, and a valuable resource for solving current challenges in the Puget Sound Region and the Pacific Northwest. Further, CFR recognizes the value of continuing to enhance and strengthen the center’s horticultural paradigm.
Our proposal for the pre-design stage of rebuilding Merrill Hall has been for the architects to plan from the outset a facility that replaces lost functionality as well as for an addition to function as an “environmental forum” to support collaborative problem solving and community based decision-making efforts on environmental and natural resource issues throughout the region. The environmental forum will also serve as an enhanced educational facility to achieve life-long learning for the state’s population. A set of spaces that provide breakout areas and a larger, state of the art meeting room where groups can gather to discuss urban, natural resource, and environmental sustainability issues will be a wonderful addition to the College’s existing facilities.
Although there has been a substantial commitment of public monies to restore Merrill Hall, originally built with donations from private individuals and foundations, these monies are insufficient to address this expanded vision. Since an expanded facility exceeds the Legislative mandate for replacement, the enhancements will require that we raise additional funds for construction, furniture, and equipment. We believe we can secure funds for such an enhancement. We also recognize that if resultant permitting, siting, architectural, or fund-raising issues do not permit a timely rebuilding of the entire facility, these agreed-upon enhancements will be constructed as funds become available. The architects may also consider other alternatives for developing the environmental forum, for example, an addition to CUH’s existing NHS Hall to complement the new Merrill Hall and accomplish the broader programmatic vision and environmental forum.
We believe that the expanded vision for CUH is vitally connected to Washington State’s economic and environmental well being and is compatible with and supports the mission of the College and the UW. It will be an exciting way for the College to support its contributions to sustainable land and ecosystem management in an urbanizing world.
Hands-on field experience is one of the unique opportunities the College of Forest Resources is able to provide for learners of all ages. The College's location in one of the world's largest forest regions provides sites for field classes and research, actual management of forested lands, exposure to wood-based industries, and awareness of resource-use issues. College field facilities include major forested areas, an arboretum, an ecological research area, and several cooperative research centers and stations. These lands offer a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic characteristics favorable to a full range of scientific investigations. They also provide a general natural science laboratory for graduate and undergraduate coursework and for professional and public education programs and other outreach efforts of the College.
The CFR Quarterly is published four times annually, at the close of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer Quarters.
Please send comments or submit news items to Cecilia Paul: firstname.lastname@example.org; 3-3075; 107E Anderson, Box 352100.
Photo credits this issue: L. Kaye, B. Harrison,
'66, Kathy Sauber, UW Photography, M. Trudeau
Web Design: Marianne Elliott