Environmental Impact

  • Programs in environmental science, biology and chemistry that emphasize conservation and sustainability of natural resources;
  • Interdisciplinary Environmental Impact Lecture series featuring nationally known lecturers on topics of broad interest;
  • Outdoor Laboratory for Biological and Environmental Sciences has three parts where the public is invited to come and benefit from facilities in the world of nature: Field Station, Brittain Lake and College Woods:
  • Field Station is a 50+-acre plot east of the main campus and connected to it by a footbridge across the Little Neshannock Creek. The acreage was purchased by Westminster in 1964 and appropriated for use as an environmental laboratory in 1980. Here are facilities for environmental studies and interactions for the college and community:
    • Nature Center: retrofitted 1877 vintage Pennsylvania bank barn with two inside laboratories, research and equipment storage space; classes, including art and literature, meet here throughout the year; children from the community come for meetings and activities;
    • Frey Nature Trail: connects the main campus with the rest of the Field Station; a boardwalk passes over a wetland and leads to an observation tower and a recreational area with a fire pit;
    • Yard: with small grove of sugar maple trees (planted by Westminster Pre-school children in 2004), benches and a picnic table open to all; a memorial rose garden; three flags (United States, Westminster and Ecology) fly day and night and a memorial stone with an environmental quote on a plaque set the tone for the Field Station;
    • Offutt Microforest: 5-acre reforested woodlot where 1,000 trees have been planted of species present before the 1795 European settlement took place; this is a historic forest;
    • Arboretum: a teaching collection of trees that are arranged by taxonomic groups;
    • Nursery: for starting seedlings;
    • Composting operation: a windrow, open-air system where over 13 tons of compostables from the college and community are processed each month throughout the year (including food waste from dining halls and autumn leaves from the Borough of New Wilmington);
    • Travis Weather Station: records have been maintained since 1983 and are currently transmitted electronically to the Nature Center;
    • Successional plots: every 12 years (1981, 1993 and 2005), an acre is plowed and then released to natural processes of change through time; these provide study sites for progression to an eventual climax community;
    • Marsh wetland; the remains of a glacial ice-block or kettle where the ecological record of the past 10,000 years is preserved in the pollen deposits;
    • Edmiston Memorial Labyrinth: a circular path that leads, with switchbacks, toward the center and is a place, in a scenic setting, where all are welcome to come, sit, walk and meditate.
  • Brittain Lake is a 15-acre impoundment on the campus constructed in two stages, beginning in 1951; this is a multi-use facility for science and physical education classes and for community use; a running/walking area around the lake is frequented by college and community. Here are specific ecological uses of Brittain Lake:
    • Freshwater Biology classes study chemical, physical and biological properties;
    • Pondweed is harvested mechanically at least once a year and the pondweed is composted at the Field Station; this procedure is carried on as an alternative to treating the water with herbicides;
    • Recreational fishing is allowed; community Fishing Derbies for youth have been held in summers.
  • College Woods comprise about 40 acres of a maturing oak-maple forest in hilly topography south of New Wilmington and contiguous with the main campus. Prior to about 1850 the trees were cut for charcoal and the remains of that operation are still evident in what has been called "Furnace Hill." Here are specific parts and activities of the College Woods:
    • Trails lead through different parts of the forest for recreational walking and as paths to research sites;
    • Study plots for ecological markers of trees in the forest;
    • General field studies take place here;
    • Titan Traverse is an outdoor recreation and training facility coordinated through Student Affairs.
  • Audio Visual Services has implemented a number of green initiatives on campus and offers tips for energy consumption and environmental conservation on their Green AV page.