Fifty years ago, it was 1973. You would probably have been reading this update in the Daily Local (which actually had a staff of reporters at the time) while wearing a pair of bell bottoms – and you may have started worrying about the future of our natural habitats.
“That was a time when there was a lot of growing awareness of the environment,” said West Chester University Biology Professor Dr. Jessica Schedlbauer.
That was the case for WCU students Bradley Gottfried and Dave Fluri, dorm mates and members of the Biology Club, who made it their mission to save the campus’s southwest corner from development.
“Sometime in my junior year, I learned of the college’s plans for this valuable tract. I was shocked when I looked at the plans—the buildings and sidewalks were widely spread out– designed to take up the entire forest. While I could see that many of the beautiful trees would remain, it would definitely not be the same,” said Bradley – now Dr. Gottfried – in a 2006 remembrance.
So, he and Dave set out to find a compromise. They drafted alternative plans, mobilized the student body, and engaged the media.
“So much is hazy from those days, almost 40 years ago, but the yellowed front page article in the Daily Local News brought back memories,” said Bradley.
While details may have faded, the legacy of what was saved remains strong.
“There’s forest, meadow, grassland, three miles of trails, and a stream down there. It’s kind of an amazing spot,” said Jessica of the 126-acre plot. Over the years more than 2000 different species have been identified on the land that stands as one of the area’s last remaining forests.
“It’s a really important link. In southern Chester County the patches of forests are few and far between,” she said.
A celebration of the milestone was held on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m with food, live music, nature tours, and demonstrations by West Chester students and faculty.
Visit the Gordon website for more details about this special area.
Originally published, Sept. 22, 2023
This story is part of a longer weekly West Chester newsletter. Curious what else is going on? You can find the full issue here and the latest newsletter here. Even easier? Subscribe here to get future issues delivered directly.