Students continue the fight to save Arboretum

UCF has requested the release of 7.85 acres of land protected by a conservation easement from the St. Johns Water Management District. This area is a portion of the 82-acre Arboretum that educates students and the community about nature and protects the environment.

Patrick Bohlen, Arboretum director since the fall of 2010, said this area was chosen for the easement release because it is inside the Gemini loop and is suitable for future building in the core of campus.

The request includes a proposal to transfer the current conservation easement to another parcel of land on campus.

Samantha Ruiz, president of UCF I.D.E.A.S, an environmental organization that works toward addressing environmental challenges and finding realistic solutions, is advocating against the release of the easement. Ruiz said this area is home to gopher tortoises, research projects and is the living environment for much other wildlife.

“I believe we have to put our foot down,” Ruiz said. “I am sad to see people are not recognizing the value this piece of the Arboretum brings to the UCF community.”

A petition has been made by Ruiz and Chelsea Stewart, president of the Student Sustainability Alliance Leadership Council, an organization that is concerned with maintaining global and local environmental integrity. The organization has sent over 1,500 signatures to St. Johns Water Management District hoping to keep the easement and the land’s protection.

They have also spoken to non-profit organizations, such as the Sierra Club, 1,000 Friends of Florida and the Florida Wildlife Federation, which have written letters to St. Johns Water Management District as well.

They have yet to receive a response from the district on behalf of their efforts.

Read the rest of the article at the Orlando Sentinel.

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