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University Students Rehabilitate 100-Year-Old Cook Campus Trail

Trail Behind the University Inn and Conference Center Being Revitalized Thanks to Environmental Clubs
Arbor Trail
Arbor Trail University Inn and Conference Center

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ--Rutgers University students have adopted the Arbor trail located behind the University Inn and Conference Center on Cook campus.

In January of 2016, the Naturalist club acquired funds from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) governing council, and the Rutgers alumni association matched the SEBS funding.

A partnership between The Naturalist club, the fraternity Alpha Zeta, Landscape and Environmental Design club, and Deana Pagnozzi of the Inn oversees the revitalization and maintenance of the Arbor trail.

Other groups engaged in the project also include SEA (Students for Environmental Awarness) and several vollunteers including alumni and current students. 

With these funds, the club hopes to “provide food, shelter and host plants for native species. As well as the promotion of forest gardening with native plants” according to an interview with Angela Monaghan, president of the Naturalist club.

Forest gardening is a practice of growing food for human consumption in a forest setting.

It takes advantage of different niche habitats a forest provides. One example is different light levels, another is wetter or drier sites.

Forest gardening also takes advantage of natural services these can include pollination and pest control in the form of bees/lepidoptera and spiders/praying mantis respectively.

A planting of native species that conforms to this goal is scheduled for Saturday April 23. 

The planting schedule includes three Chokeberry, two Elderberry, two Which hazel, two redbuds, three Shady goldenrod, lindera for lepidoptera(butterfly), ferns, moss, and several native viburnum species. 

On April 30, during the annual "Rutgers Day" celebration, the Inn and Conference center will host an open house. The students will showcase the recent projects as well as raise awareness and support. 

The trail includes several trails, two small artificial ponds originally used for the houses refrigeration system, a meadow, and an ephemeral pond.  

This pond once drained into the Raritan as a small brook, but with the construction of route 18, a wetland environment has been created. Unfortunately since there is no outflow, garbage concentrates in it. Recent student efforts have improved the site considerably. 

The Arbor trail is both a historic and ecological asset to both the Rutgers community and the greater New Brunswick community.

The Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center website says the site was “built in 1911 as part of the Carpender Estate, founded by Sydney B. Carpender and his wife Louise Johnson. Originally built to reflect the rolling meadows of England, the estate served as a pastoral retreat for the Carpender family”.

In 1975 the trail became abandoned and since then has become reforested, unfortunately with several invasive species. They include multiflora rose, japanese wineberry and norway maple among others. 

The trail still contains many exotic species planted by the Carpender Family. This Arboretum is used for teaching purposes by the University.  

Now student activism is creating a new chapter for the area with native species plantings, trail maintenance and invasive species clean up.   

According to Monaghan, plans for the Arbor Trail include "incorporating it into the Naturalist club's constitution and have a [subcommittee] for it starting in Fall."