The Curriculum in Environment and Ecology’s Dr. Geoffrey Bell and several students from his fall 2016 Restoration Ecology class (ENEC 304) were essential to the Battle Grove Restoration project. The focus of this project was the Battle Branch stream which had been piped beneath the area for 75 years and as a part of the restoration was released in an aboveground stream in a process called daylighting.
This story was originally covered by Sustainability @ UNC link to story here: http://sustainability.unc.edu/news/2017/02/22/battle-grove-model-living-learning-lab/
A three-student team in Bell’s class took on the base flow-monitoring project and designed their measurement and analysis methodologies to provide the information Hoyt needed. They sampled the water multiple times during the semester at four sites within Battle Branch to measure base flow concentrations of nitrate, nitrite, ammonium and phosphate in the water as well as dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature.
Restoration Ecology (ENEC 304) is an APPLES service learning course that teaches students how ecological theory and science are used to restore degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems. Experiential education is a hallmark of this course so students also gain practical research skills including experimental design, hypothesis testing, field survey methodology, field equipment use, data analysis, project management, and technical report writing. Students then apply these skills to create and conduct small group research projects to answer important questions posed by community partners that help inform their decision making. Some examples include: what is the water quality in urban or restored streams and what are the sources of impairment, what is the current status of restored oyster reefs and what kind of reefs are most productive, what is the distribution and abundance of invasive and endangered species in Battle Park. These real-world research projects also prepare students to succeed in the workplace by developing critical professional competencies in project management, teamwork, creativity, problem solving, leadership, and communication.
The Battle Grove project was one of six community partnerships Bell’s class developed. Student teams also worked with University clients to examine ecological issues related to short-leaf pines in the N.C. Botanical Gardens, oyster restoration in conjunction with the Institute for Marine Sciences, stream monitoring on Outdoor Recreation Center land and endangered species restoration in Battle Park, as well as a project with the Town of Chapel Hill to monitor water quality for a local stream.