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Roanoke College’s Environmental Campus by Shannon Allen

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Shannon Allen
News Editor

Roanoke College’s Environmental Campus

Due to a new contract with Alta Mons Methodist Camp, Roanoke College has a fully-fledged environmental campus. Previously, Roanoke College could have Environmental labs on the campus, but they could not do much to alter the area. After years of submitting restoration proposals, Roanoke finally worked through a deal. Dr. Steeler in the Dean’s office has been working with Ben Snapp and Jim Pearman at Alta Mons for some time to get the environmental campus ball rolling. With this new contract, Roanoke will have permission to alter the natural system and improve the 840 acre landscape.

Alta Mons sits in a valley where a hotel and bottled water factory used to be. Now it is home to a church camp with a property full of hikes that lead up to a 40 foot waterfall in the mountains. Roanoke College already has a three step program in place to increase the Riparian buffer along the banks of Purgatory creek that runs through the new campus. Adding this to the banks of the creek would help to prevent future erosion.  The process began last year as members of the Earthbound club planted 21 American Elm Trees. One plan for this year is to plant a 50 tree apple orchard, which will include some rare varieties of the fruit.

As part of the agreement, Roanoke College will have their own building on site. Tentative plans include building a nature center and an office space. Roanoke College plans to have a director for the campus specifically, but the plans are still being worked through, and will be determined later in the year.

Roanoke College hopes to expand the usage of the campus beyond just Environmental Students. The new chaplain, Rev. Chris Bowen, has shown an interest in using the campus, and Roanoke’s Modern Language Department hopes to have language emersion weekends at the site. Future Independent Studies may also take place on this campus.  Eventually, Roanoke hopes to have a shuttle to bus students to and from the campus several times a weekend since the campus is a prime recreational facility.

Needless to say, an Environmental Campus is something Roanoke College has been working on for a very long time.  Professor at Roanoke College, Dr. Jon Cawley says, “This is very important for the school…all important schools have environmental campuses”.