September 08, 2016

Campus Lake, Thompson Woods valued as campus resources

SIU students, faculty, staff and community members value Campus Lake and Thompson Woods as natural and educational resources that add appeal to the campus, according to the results of a survey conducted last spring.

While opinions differed on the best approaches to maintain the lake and woods, there was strong consensus that an advisory group would be beneficial to future planning, according to Kevin Bame, vice chancellor for finance and administration.

Bame said the university is reviewing the survey results and will move forward this year to establish the recommended advisory group.

The survey was conducted for the Physical Plant by Applied Research Consultants, which provides professional services in applied research and evaluation and is based in the psychology department. Of 2,131 respondents, more than 52 percent were students and 38 percent were faculty and staff. Other respondents included alumni, community members, and retired faculty members.

“We were very pleased with the broad participation in the survey, including feedback from students,” Bame said.

The majority of survey respondents indicated that Campus Lake is appealing due to vegetation, wildlife and the lake itself. But the results showed significant concern about water quality, toxic algae and erosion. Survey respondents were divided about the preferred methods to treat plants around the lake – by equipment, hand or controlled burn, among other options.

Bame said that previously announced plans to address concerns about water quality and toxic algae are underway. 

Regarding Thompson Woods, respondents said vegetation, wildlife and pathways make the woods visually appealing. The majority said it was important or very important to keep woods “natural,” although opinions varied about the best methods to address fallen trees, undergrowth and invasive species.

“Not surprisingly, there seems to be high value for both Campus Lake and Thompson Woods as assets that contribute to campus life,” Bame said. “The survey results will be helpful as we make decisions going forward.”