Programs

Dunn's Woods Restoration Project

About the Project

This project brings together faculty, students, and community groups. Through research, restoration, and education activities, we work to restore health to our local forests and empower students and the greater community to make life choices that promote the biodiversity of their home, work, and community landscapes.

Background

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Dunn’s Woods is an ~130-year old,10-acre deciduous woodland situated at the heart of Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. Once part of the Dunn family farm, the area was likely once pastureland for cattle and hogs, and parts were quarried for limestone used in campus buildings. The University purchased the woods in 1883. Archival photos show a park-like state that was gradually allowed to return to more natural woodland. The woods are now host to a diverse spring ephemeral wildflower community and numerous species of birds, including a nesting pair of Cooper’s hawks, Yellow-throated Warblers, and vireos. This biodiversity is threatened by numerous exotic invasive plant species, especially the evergreen groundcover Purple Wintercreeper, that have invaded the woods.

Perhaps the fundamental threat to habitat biodiversity is a lack of human understanding and appreciation of the many life-supporting and life-enhancing services that diverse ecosystems provide, and of the myriad ecological connections that tie all species, including humans, together. The sensibility of place, including the sense of connectedness to the community of life, encompasses both cultural and natural dimensions.

Our project therefore aims to restore both the woods and people’s sense of place and understanding of ecological connections. Through our research, teaching, and outreach activities, we want to provide students and the greater community with the information and skills to make life choices that promote the biodiversity of their home, work, and community landscapes.

Visit our History, Ecology, and Education & Outreach pages to learn more about our ongoing work:

  • Researching the history of Dunn’s Woods and the surrounding landscape
  • Monitoring research plots to track the ecological interactions between invasive plants and the native woodland community, and to develop best practices for removing invasive species and establishing native woodland species
  • Engaging in outreach activities with university courses, student groups, and the local community. These activities include invasive species pulls, native plantings, and the development of educational materials such as signage, this website, brochures, and films.
The Team

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This campus-community collaboration involves diverse areas of expertise at Indiana University and in the conservation profession.

Monroe County Identify and Reduce Invasive Species (MC-IRIS), City of Bloomington Parks & Recreation, and Sassafras Audubon Society are key partners.

  • Anita Bracalente
    • Anita Bracalente
    • Landscape Historian, Researcher
  • Jim Capshew
  • Roger Hangarter
  • Heather Reynolds
  • Mia Williams
    • Mia Williams
    • Landscape Architect, Indiana University
  • Jonathan Bauer
    • Jonathan Bauer
    • PhD Candidate, Dept. of Biology, IUB
  • Natalie Christian
    • Natalie Christian
    • Sustainability Intern and Biology Graduate Student, IUB
  • Hayley Prihoda
    • Hayley Prihoda
    • Sustainability Intern and History Major, IUB
  • Tony Minich
    • Tony Minich
    • Environmental, Educational Researcher
  • Steve Cotter
    • Steve Cotter
    • National Resources Manager, Bloomington Parks & Recreation; Member, MC-IRIS
  • Ellen Jacquart
    • Ellen Jacquart
    • Chair, MC-IRIS
  • Spencer Goehl
    • Spencer Goehl
    • Member, MC-IRIS
  • Renee Albrecht
    • Renee Albrecht
    • Restoration Research Intern