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A campus & community-wide appeal to Western Michigan University that development plans for Colony Farm Orchard be abandoned to reflect WMU's values of sustainability and our status as a level 2 research university.

We, the students and faculty of Western Michigan University, and members of the wider Kalamazoo community, are concerned about impending development of the Colony Farm Orchard for the expansion of WMU's Business, Technology and Research Park (BTR). We consider WMU's plans to develop the Colony Farm Orchard (CFO) rash, ill considered, and an abrogation of commitments made to the community. Furthermore, these plans serve no clear educational purpose. We call for the plans be withdrawn because they are at odds with the covenant of the preserve and will undermine WMU's ethical credibility.

We believe in the intrinsic value of natural areas and stress the importance of honoring the original intent that CFO remain in its natural state. Destruction of 44 acres of ecosystem will tarnish our reputation in the wider community, further damage the already precarious relationship of students and faculty with the administration and cause significant damage to the ecological integrity of the core of the Asylum Lake preserve. The CFO has great ecological value in the water balance for the Asylum Lake preserve and as its primary spring source. It also serves as a buffer to noise, wind, run-off water, and pollution coming from US-131 and as a wildlife corridor, seed bank, reservoir of genetic diversity and food source. Any diminution in size of a preserve tends to increase the rate of extinctions and therefore losing the springs and recovering woodlands at CFO represents an unacceptable loss which is unconscionable coming from WMU, an institution which professes to be a supporter of cutting edge environmental design and sustainability.

Research furthermore shows that there is a high probability that historically significant artifacts are to be found on the grounds of CFO. As an academic institution, we have a collegiate obligation to protect culturally significant sites and structures under our control.

We, the undersigned, petition the administration of WMU, WMU's board of trustees, the township of Oshtemo and Kalamazoo County, to honor the original covenant of the land by abandoning plans to develop CFO. We urge that WMU re-annex the CFO into Asylum Lake Preserve in order to retain it as the recovering green space that it was intended to be when the land transfer was first made.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Oshtemo Township
  • Western Michigan University
  • Kalamazoo County

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