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Afforestation at Northeast College to Add 1,000+ Trees, Shrubs and Plantings to Campus

November 12, 2021 Northeast College of Health Sciences

When you visit Northeast College of Health Sciences, nestled in the heart of New York State's Finger Lakes region, anyone will tell you: nature matters.  That's reflected in Northeast's new long-term project to plant hundreds of native trees and shrubs on the College's grounds -- a way to create both natural green spaces and more sustainable operations.

Smart planning to add to the community landscape

Aerial photo of the College grounds showing the plantings that are part of the afforestation project.

The Northeast afforestation project will mix shrubs and under-story trees native to the region, mimicking a wild Finger Lakes forest environment, according to Vice President of Administrative Services Christopher McQueeney. The project is being conducted in partnership with White Oak Nursery in Geneva, N.Y., and nursery owner Jim Engel began the process of removing invasive species and planting native trees and shrubs on the campus grounds in September.

The first phase of the multi-year afforestation plan, to be completed this year, will see 870 trees, including red oak, American elm and white pine; 380 shrubs, including black elderberry and witch hazel; and 160 meadow plantings, including ox-eye sunflower and orange coneflower, planted on 11 acres of campus grounds between Bayard Street, Rt. 89, the College's main entrance, and campus buildings. Each year a similar number of trees, plants and shrubs will be added to the 40 acre-span of new forested space, through which the College ultimately plans to create footpaths and walking trails.

Advancing the College and community

The project further advances the College's initiatives to promote sustainability, enhance College-owned properties and facilities and encourage meaningful interactions within the Northeast Blue community. These strategies and goals are outlined in Northeast College's strategic plan "2021-2023 BLUEprint: Growing the Future Together."

"At Northeast, we know the hard work and commitment that goes into building strong and successful futures. The same dedication to excellence is necessary to ensure our campus grounds and community land persevere and endure," said College President Dr. Michael Mestan. "We are so fortunate to call the Finger Lakes region home -- it's one of the most naturally beautiful areas in the country. We have a responsibility to not only pass that legacy on to future generations of healthcare leaders but to make our ecosystems even stronger for our greater Seneca Falls and Finger Lakes community."

As the grounds are transforming, the College is keeping its natural pollinators in mind. To provide cover for these various species, including honeybees, that may be staying on campus for the winter, invasive brush cuttings have been scattered on the grounds to create natural habitats.

Dedicated to a Sustainable Future at Northeast

Photo of the College grounds showing the plantings that are part of the afforestation project.

This naturally sustainable environment will further allow the College to be good stewards of its 286 acres of land by reducing the amount of fuel and water used to upkeep the large lawn. It will also provide revitalization at a much-needed time. This summer, many campus trees had to be removed after being damaged by the emerald ash borer, an invasive bug, and other environmental factors.  

Actively creating natural spaces that best work for the College and the larger community and allow for maximum conservation efforts began three years ago when the "Grow Zone" was created. The 45-acres of College Grow Zone grounds is now dedicated to the natural population of native plants.

The College has substantially reduced the College's carbon footprint, eliminating the need for more than 14 hours of mowing a week and more than 6400 lbs. of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The reduction in mowing has already saved more than 1,000 gallons of fuel and returned many of the benefits of wildlife returning to the area. The afforestation project should see much more of the same and bring the community another beautiful landscape in Seneca Falls, further adding to the sustainability and beauty of the Finger Lakes.

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