Plans to expand and improve South Campus housing requires the clearing of approximately seven acres of trees mostly within the wooded hillside along the southwest edge of campus, both for building footprints and for changes to the South Campus road and path network that allow for emergency vehicle access to the new residence halls. Five of the seven affected acres will be replanted with trees that will re-establish the wooded character of that side of campus. Strategies to restore the balance of the carbon sequestration capacity of the harvested forest will emerge from a carbon neutrality master planning process underway to help us reach our goal by 2040.
Kenyon is committed to substantial mitigation measures. Our goal is not only to regain the temporary loss of carbon sequestration capacity by the harvested acres but also to exceed that capacity through the broader effort to increase College-wide carbon sequestration. Recommendations may include converting some College land to forest, acquiring and preserving additional woodlands, exploring the role of non-wooded habitats, and enhancing carbon sequestration in soil. As much as possible, these measures will proceed in tandem with the South Quad project as opposed to waiting until after the project is completed.
Approximately 20 trees were cleared during spring break to ensure that nesting habitats of protected wildlife, specifically the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), are not disturbed during the tree removal process. Remaining trees will be cleared following Commencement and Reunion Weekend, with the remaining site work planned to get underway this summer. The timing was informed by a study of forest ecology conducted by an independent ecologist and reviewed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.