Mission Statement for the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies (RBGNAES)
Prepared by Professor Harry M. Tiebout III
RBGNAES Facility Administrator
18 October 2002In December 1971, the Board of Trustees announced the provision of a tract of land on south campus for two purposes: (1) to preserve the existing native vegetation (primarily climax deciduous forest on the original 39 acre parcel, with an additional 28 acres of flood plain added south of Tigue Road later), and (2) to be used for "ecological and other biological studies." On November 10, 1973, Dr. William R. Overlease, Professor of Biology at WCU, dedicated this property as the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies. The title chosen for the property and other remarks made by Dr. Overlease at the dedication ceremony reinforce the initial intent of the Board of Trustees and clearly specify how the property should be used by future generations. I present this intent in the form of two mission statements
Mission 1) Preservation of a Natural Area. The property is to be maintained in as natural a state as possible, consistent with its function as a natural classroom (see #2 below). This means that all forms of development are prohibited, with the exception of maintaining the single existing paved road and the currently existing limited network of unpaved, undeveloped footpaths. Unacceptable activities include: (1) removal of live or dead plant materials or animals, (2) use of foreign or toxic chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides, (3) dumping of refuse, (4) creation of any new or enhancement of any existing trails or roads, and (5) addition of any human-made structures or devices. However, it is noted that trail and road maintenance and repairs will be implemented as needed to ensure safe conditions, and that some maintenance along the boundaries may be required to support the use of adjacent areas (such as sports fields, parking areas, etc.).
Mission 2) Natural Classroom for Environmental Studies. The property is to be used for teaching and research in ecology and related environmental studies. However, these scientific and educational activities must not compromise Mission #1. Accordingly, teaching and research activities are to be primarily non-manipulative and should not involve any significant disturbance to the native flora and fauna. However, studies may be undertaken that involve removal of exotic non-native species, to the extent that such studies contribute to better preservation of the natural native plants and animals.