Lewis University has a system where only trouble areas are spot treated, there is not weekly service that applies chemicals regularly on campus. Lewis is also using an integrative pest management (IPM) solution instead of the traditional pesticides. This again reduces the amount of harmful chemicals being used on campus. The IPM system was set in place after designating multiple buildings on campus at LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.
During the winter months you may notice a lack of blue salt around campus, and instead see a purple colored solution. This system uses beet juice as ice control rather than the chemically treated salt. Beet Juice is an organic and environmentally sensitive solution to ice control that the campus has been using since 2007.
Illinois used to be covered by nearly 22 million acres of prairie, today most of that has been taken over for farmland or development. At Lewis University there is one prairie restoration project that the University hopes will one day expand and bring back the rich natural history of our area. Prairies are filled with native plants which attract many beautiful native species such as butterflies and other pollinators. This restoration project can be found behind Benilde Hall.
In Illinois Buckthorn and Garlic Mustard have dramatically increased and are outcompeting native species. At Lewis University there is an ongoing effort to control and remove these species in areas such as the nature trail. There are service projects year round that the Lewis community is involved in to stop the spread of these species.
When trees or large branches are removed from campus, a chipper is used and the mulch is then placed around campus, offering a sustainable and money saving solution. Compost piles can also be seen by the greenhouse, where flowers and other plants are grown to be placed around campus. Grass clippings, flowers, small branches and other organic materials are placed in these piles to generate compost. The grounds staff turns and rotates the piles, until the compost has fully “cooked” and is ready to be used around campus.
The Bunham Centennial Nature Trail was established in 2008 and offers the Lewis University community an escape to nature. Students, faculty and staff alike can enjoy a relaxing walk or a quick paced run in a section of campus dedicated to remind us of the wild and natural history of Illinois. Along this trail you will find native plant and trees species. Each year on Earth Day (April 22nd) invasive species are removed and on Arbor Day (April 25th) new native species are planted in place. A one of a kind Frisbee golf course is has also been created along the trail. The hours of the trail are from dawn to dusk and it is asked that users stay along the trail. Want to learn more? Grab a Nature Trail brochure located at the start of the trail.