The Daily Sundial’s March 6 opinion article by Paul Castillo regarding the campus Botanic Garden, as well as letters to the editor dated March 5 and 14, highlight legitimate student concerns with the preservation of the campus’ unique environmental features. However, these articles contained inaccurate information regarding the impact of the new Science 5 building project on the Botanic Garden and the adjoining pond south of the garden. To the contrary, there are in fact several significant environmental improvements associated with the upcoming Science 5 project that demonstrate CSUN’s commitment to environmental responsibility and leadership.
The Botanic Garden will not be “destroyed,” as reported in the commentaries. Rather, construction of the Science 5 building, due to begin this summer, will occupy only a small southern edge of the current Botanic Garden once construction is completed. The majority of the Botanic Garden will remain intact and in its current location. It is important to note that the Botanic Garden is not only a natural area, but also an outdoor laboratory with a variety of plant species that is a vital part of CSUN’s biology program.
The Facilities Planning Office has worked closely with the College of Science and Mathematics throughout the Science 5 design process. As part of the construction, the southern edge of the garden also will be replanted as a California native garden. In doing so, the Science 5 project will provide for the removal of certain plants and trees that have outlived their useful life from a small section of the Botanic Garden, and permit planting of new specimens that will better serve the program’s academic needs.
Prior to the start of Science 5 construction, several of the existing plants and trees within the Botanic Garden and surrounding the pond will be relocated to a new rainforest environment that is being constructed nearby, adjacent to the University’s new fuel cell plant. As part of CSUN’s continuing commitment to environmental stewardship, last month we commissioned the largest hydrogen fuel cell power plant at any university in the world. Students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science played a significant role in the research, planning and management of the fuel cell installation. The carbon dioxide generated by the fuel cell plant will allow the campus to mimic aspects of rainforest conditions, providing opportunities for study, as well as a much-needed landscape improvement at the eastern edge of Matador Walk.
The current pond, which is separate from and south of the Botanic Garden along West University Drive (Lindley Avenue), will be relocated to make way for the Science 5 project. Unlike the Botanic Garden, the pond is not part of the Biology Department’s activities. Faculty and staff who have been on campus for many years will recall that the pond was originally located just at the western end of Magnolia Walk. As part of the reconstruction of the campus after the 1994 earthquake, the pond was relocated to its current location. A study conducted at the outset of the 2005 Campus Master Plan process investigated several potential sites for the new Science 5 building and determined that the site where the pond now exists provided the best fit. During the past few months, a group of faculty and staff members worked to determine an appropriate new location for the pond that would ensure its relocation would not be required again. Because the campus community has strongly supported the preservation and enhancement of the historic orange grove, it was determined that relocation of the pond to a space at the eastern edge of the grove would best provide for its longevity. Campus Physical Plant Management soon will begin a project to construct a new pond, along with accessible pathways and lighting, on the edge of the orange grove facing the University Club. The pond project will keep all the current orange trees there undisturbed. It also will better integrate the orange grove into the life of the campus and provide improved access for all to enjoy both the orange grove and the pond for years to come.
Colin Donahue, Associate Vice President Facilities Development and Operations