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The Student News Site of Principia College

The Pilot

The Student News Site of Principia College

The Pilot

The Land Stewardship burn

Noah Buitron


Principia College, encompassing 2,600 acres and ranked as the 25th largest college campus in the United States by, engages in a vital mission to nurture its sprawling forests, prairies, and farmlands through its Land Stewardship Program. This effort is crucial for the preservation of the unique ecosystems around the campus, particularly the hill prairies along the Mississippi River bluffs, a significant remnant of Illinois’s once-vast prairies. Every spring semester, Principia’s Land Stewardship team, supported by The Principia Fire Brigade and expert Arno List, undertakes controlled burns over 100 acres to combat the encroachment of trees and shrubs, aiming to restore these grasslands to their former glory.

Intentional burns are pivotal for managing and revitalizing landscapes, a practice backed by centuries of indigenous knowledge and essential for curbing invasive species like the bush honeysuckle. This invasive plant, which has proliferated since the 1990s, now blankets nearly 70 percent of the campus, necessitating extensive clearance efforts. After a two-year project with forestry consultants to thin the honeysuckle in Ewing Wood, plans are in place to extend these efforts to other critical areas.

Principia’s commitment to environmental stewardship extends to combating soil erosion through the restoration of former farm fields with soil-stabilizing plants and pollinator-friendly species. This transformation not only halts soil loss but also enriches the habitat for local wildlife. The expansion of hiking trails in Ewing Wood and Watson Ravine further reflects the college’s dedication to connecting the community with nature, with trail maintenance being a collaborative effort involving students and staff.

This comprehensive approach to land management at Principia underscores the importance of preserving natural habitats, leveraging controlled burns as a tool for ecological restoration, and fostering a deeper connection between the community and the environment.

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About the Contributor
Christopher Ajuoga
Christopher Ajuoga, Editor-in-Chief
Chris joined The Pilot in 2022 and has since worked as a staff writer, photographer, feature editor, and now editor-in-chief. He not only focuses on campus news but also culture and lifestyle. Chris is expected to graduate from Principia in May 2024.
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