The University of Connecticut has taken multiple steps to preserve local habitats in recent years.
“A lot of UConn-owned land provides excellent habitat to a variety of wildlife species and UConn works to protect it,” Richard Miller, director of the Office of Environmental Policy, said.
UConn owns roughly 4,000 acres of land on and around main campus, and most of it is open space, forest or farm land, Miller said.
“The 2015 Campus Master Plan calls for creating two woodland corridors on the northern and southern ends of the main campus,” Miller said.
These wildlife habitat links will provide a natural habitat for a variety of creatures, Miller said. They will protect small mammals, such as squirrels and chipmunks, as well as birds and insects.
“When we built Discovery Drive a few years ago, we made sure to include two bridges over areas that serve as wildlife corridors for everything from deer and bobcats to wood frogs and salamanders,” Miller said.
In addition, if any smaller animals get caught on the road, such as turtles and frogs, Miller said the curbs are slanted to help animals cross safely.
Landscaping around some of the newer buildings around campus have plants, like blueberry bushes, that serve as a food source for local wildlife, Miller said.
“Farm Services also protects grassland bird habitat on a section of Horsebarn Hill, by rearranging UConn’s mowing schedule around the birds’ nesting periods,” Miller said.
In the spring, UConn dedicated a new section to the Hillside Environmental Education Park on the northwest portion of campus. The HEEP is now a 165-acre nature preserve, Miller said.
UConn tries to live in harmony with nature and wildlife, and has been working towards that harmony through habitat preservation across campus, Miller said, but university action is also about education.
“When people are educated about all types of wildlife they tend to get outdoors and appreciate nature more often,” Miller said.
Natalie Baliker is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Natalie.Baliker@uconn.edu.