One of the first things to captivate a visitor to Kenyon is the untouched rural land surrounding the Hill. Preservation of the land isn’t an accident; it is the mission of the Philander Chase Corporation (PCC), a nonprofit land trust associated with the College. Distinguished conservationist James Levitt will speak on the role of colleges such as Kenyon in greenspace preservation Tuesday, March 31, at 11:10 a.m. in Peirce Hall’s Peirce Pub.
Levitt is the director of the Program on Conservation Innovation at the Harvard Forest, as well as the principal investigator at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a research foundation based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Last year, Levitt edited the organization’s Conservation Catalysts: The Academy as Nature’s Agent, which includes a chapter on Kenyon’s current conservation efforts.
Few realize the amount of effort and planning required to maintain the “wilderness” that has colored the Kenyon experience since 1824, says Amy Henricksen, project coordinator of the PCC. “The land trust currently holds 20 conservation easements and 16 agricultural easements which protect over 5,000 acres within a 5-mile radius of Gambier,” she said. Efforts to expand that protected space continue.
The preservation work of the College and PCC is at the forefront of an increasingly widespread phenomenon: Institutions of higher education also are becoming institutions of land preservation. For Levitt, Kenyon is a strong example of how academia, from Harvard to the University of Nairobi, is a surprisingly powerful and effective catalyst for large landscape conservation.
By Matthew Eley '15