The Lynchburg Chapter (Virginia) recently launched a long-term endowment to support Lynchburg College’s environmental science program. The program will start with activities on the chapter’s 325-acre property just north of Lynchburg.
During a ceremony held at the college in late January, chapter leaders presented Lynchburg College president Kenneth Garren a check for $2,500 – the first of five installments to establish a permanent endowment. The endowment will support conservation education, research, and field work conducted by Lynchburg College students.
“We wanted to initiate something that will have an enduring impact on the environment,” explains John Keegan, president of the Lynchburg Chapter, “as well as support the training of future environ-mental scientists and conservationists.”
Initially, students and their advisors will work on the chapter property to develop baseline biological information supporting scientific management of the tract and its natural resource values. The chapter’s “Walton Park” property includes a stream, wetlands, two ponds, and extensive timberlands. In addition, recreational facilities on the property include a camping area, ponds designated for fishing and swimming, and archery, trap, and rifle ranges. Controlled access to this area makes it an ideal “living laboratory” for student studies. The first projects will involve wetlands and fisheries topics but could expand to a wide variety of environmental and conservation studies in the future.
A drawdown of pond water levels and rehabilitation work recently completed on two earthen dams provide ideal conditions for the fieldwork scheduled to begin this spring. Dr. Tom Shahady, professor of environmental science at Lynchburg College and a key advisor on community water quality and wetland issues, will direct the field activities. He plans to have students conduct baseline inventories on the ponds, delineating wetland areas and identifying plants that are key to wetland values, as well as inventory the fisheries to measure the success of restocking efforts currently underway. Future student projects will include locations outside the chapter, but the chapter’s endowment will support the education of these conservation leaders for many years to come.