Marian University students prompted the contemporary restoration by alerting Marian University faculty Ron Weiss and David Benson and then vice president Sr. Norma Rocklage about the dire state of affairs in “the wetlands” in the Spring 2000. An initial “clean up day” was held in the Fall 2001 where students, faculty, and staff (including the college president) helped remove accumulated trash along the access road into the EcoLab. Several years, and over a million dollars later, the EcoLab has been transformed from an area choked with non-natives to a very high-quality natural area.
The mission of the EcoLab considers involving others in its restoration a high priority. All student groups are offered the opportunity of gaining hands-on experience with the art and science of environmental restoration. We believe strongly that the best way to help young people (and, those not so young) understand the importance of responsible environmental stewardship is to actually have them get their hands a little dirty! All are invited to participate in the EcoLab’s monthly “conservation days” at 9 a.m. the third Saturday of each month March-November beginning at the St. Francis Colonnade. Volunteers are also needed any time to help with restoration projects such as planting native species, removing exotic, and other restoration activities.
The current restoration builds upon a “restoration” project that began in 1912 with Jens Jensen’s plantings.Jensen used native plant species in ecologically sensible locations. Since that time, non-native plants invaded and starting in 2000, work was done to remove the non-natives and plant native species. This project is ongoing