The College Lodge’s story began in 1939 when 120 acres of land in Brocton, NY were purchased by the Alumni Association of SUNY Fredonia. Since its purchase, buildings have been erected, community events held, green energy employed, biological studies executed and discoveries made. Ownership has since transitioned to the Faculty Student Association but remained within SUNY Fredonia. Over the past 81 years, the College Lodge has become a place that holds value not only for its natural wonders, but also for the memories community members and students have made there.
While some areas of the College Lodge have been developed to allow for university use, WNY PRISM’s time has been spent focused on the fairly pristine marsh area. Our overall goal is to preserve the biodiversity of the marsh through the selective removal of invasive species including glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), bush honeysucke (Lonicera spp.) and multi-flora rose (Rosa multiflora).
This June, the Crew was again joined by friend of WNY PRISM, Dr. John Titus of SUNY Fredonia. Our first objective for the day was to locate re-sprouts and new growth of glossy buckthorn from areas WNY PRISM had focused attention in past years. Along the way we encountered interesting plants such as an American fly honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) with leaves as big as our torsos and the blooming flowers of common wood sorrel (Oxalis montana), bullhead-lily (Nuphar variegata) and common bladderwort (Utricularia macrorhiza), all native to the area. Part of the Crew worked in the marsh to manage the re-sprouts while a couple members broke off with Dr. Titus to cut down two, individual glossy buckthorns that had grown into 20-foot tall trees and were serving as major seed sources.
The second half of our day consisted of more glossy buckthorn removal, in addition to other woody invasive shrubs found along the way including bush honeysuckle, Japanese barberry and multi-flora rose. While working, we were fortunate enough to spot native Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium acaule) which had just recently finished blooming. Rare flowers such as orchids and lilies highlight the importance of preserving this land and managing the invasive species that would otherwise threaten their survival.
Before the day ended the Crew came back together to visit an area of special concern – a powerline right of way with a patch of devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa). This tree species is considered very rare in NYS and although potentially confused with the invasive Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata), several botanists have confirmed its identity. Here we removed towering multi-flora rose that produced large quantities of seed and threatened College Lodge’s rare plants.
WNY PRISM’s time at the College Lodge was spent not only removing invasive species, but also learning to understand why this piece of land is so special to those who hope for its continued preservation. Preserving our lands not only means purchasing large swaths of forest, it also means actively maintaining their healthy ecosystems as we continue to face threats like invasive species. Field days like ours at College Lodge help remind us how important it is to continue protecting these areas.
This article was written by Danielle Dolan, 2020 Education and Outreach Assistant.