It has come to our attention that consideration is being given to drilling for natural gas and oil at the University Squire Valleevue Farm. We are concerned about the potentially negative effects this could have on the ecology and natural beauty of this valuable University resource.
We, the members of the graduate student body of the Department of Biology, would like to express our strong opposition to any proposed project to drill gas wells at Squire Valleevue Farm. We strongly advise against these activities for the following two reasons:
(1) We are concerned about the direct and indirect impacts drilling and subsequent operations would have on the University Farm’s ecosystems and the research conducted in these ecosystems.
The University Squire Valleevue Farm contains ecosystems ranging from freshwater ponds and streams to temperate deciduous forest, including one of the few remaining examples of old growth beech-maple forest. These ecosystems provide sites for diverse research projects, including studies of beech and sugar maple recruitment as well as forest demography conducted by Dr. Paul Drewa and his graduate students. The University Squire Valleevue Farm attracts these research endeavors because of its relatively pristine condition. Gas well drilling would likely diminish the suitability of the University Farm for studying terrestrial and aquatic systems.
(2) We are also concerned that such activities are against the wish expressed in Mr. Squire’s will that the land be dedicated to the use of teachers and students for learning about nature and obtaining rest and recreation.
Currently, several biology classes - Principles of Ecology Laboratory (BIOL 351L/451L), Genes and Evolution (BIOL 214), and Aquatic Ecology Laboratory (BIOL 339) - are conducted solely, or in part, at the University Squire Valleevue Farm. Further, numerous student groups, such as the Biology graduate students, the Cross Country team, and the Residence Hall Association, use the farm for various athletic and recreational activities. Oil and gas wells as well as the necessary large storage tanks and access roads will directly and indirectly impinge on the academic, athletic, and recreational activities that take place at the Farm.
We request that, if this issue is to be further considered, it be explored in open forums with the University community and that recommendations be sought by the University Farm Committee, the Faculty Senate, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Undergraduate Student Government.