Nearly two months ago, I wrote a blog post, Save the Prairie where I talked about a proposal from the Decorah School Board to construct a new elementary school on the college lands—specifically on 7 acres of Anderson Prairie.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Anderson Prairie is a 24.7 acre planted tallgrass prairie that was planted about 20 years ago with the goal to restore the land that was once row crops, reduce soil erosion, improve biodiversity, and ultimately provide an outdoor educational environment for Luther College.
The Prairie is currently used by a variety of students, faculty, and community members for a variety of educational, research-based and recreational uses. I personally conducted a research project in the fall for my Entomology class, and the Prairie is also one of my go-to spots for hiking, catching insects for my collection, and journaling for my Restoration and Conservation Biology class.
With the elementary school proposal all of these current uses of Anderson Prairie were at stake. Fortunately, I am happy to inform readers that the Prairie has indeed been saved! Luther’s Land Use Committee, which oversees the management of the College’s 1000 acres of land, voted against the elementary school proposal. The committee, after assessing feedback from students, faculty, and staff, determined that the proposal was not consistent with the Land Stewardship Plan’s goals for Anderson Prairie. These specific goals—education, research, and recreation uses—are (clearly) already being achieved in the Prairie’s current form.
After receiving the committee’s final report, President Carlson, the cabinet and the college board of regents endorsed the report, which means that Luther College will not move forward with the school proposal.
I am beyond excited that Anderson Prairie will remain a prairie in its entirety. Yet what really impresses me is just how active the student body and faculty throughout the entire process. According to Professor McNicoll, a member of the Land Use Committee, approximately 300 Luther students submitted letters or proposals about Anderson Prairie.
It was awesome to see just that. As students, we made sure our voices were heard and to saw that the College was responsive to them.