Just because our 247 acres serve as a college campus, and just because our students, staff, and faculty challenge themselves to learn and grow day after day, doesn't mean our campus isn't also part of a thriving ecosystem of plants, animals, and soils fed by the water that's been shaping this landscape for time immemorial.
Water is precious in southwestern Colorado. In dry climates, turf or traditional grass landscaping can require up to five feet of water per year. In pursuit of a landscape that fits with our semi-arid bioregion, about a third of FLC’s 237-acre campus is natural landscaping and another 4.5 acres is comprised of low or no-irrigation xeriscaped gardens. Contact the Environmental Center about volunteer and work opportunities to assist in tending and maintaining these spaces.
Water is important to every species on this planet. In arid environments like that of the Four Corners region, the fact that water is not so abundant makes adds an extra layer of importance. How we use water affects every organism in our region. With this in mind, we take extra steps to build sustainability into our water practices.
Fort Lewis College uses non-potable water for campus irrigation. Non-potable irrigation water helps provide more nutrients for our campus landscape and allows us to avoid the energy consumption associated with treating water.
Most sinks and restroom fixtures on campus qualify as low-consumption, and many meet or exceed EPA Water Sense criteria. In 2020 with the support of a grant from the Southern Colorado Water Conservation District, the Environmental Center oversaw an indoor water audit of our campus restroom fixtures. This audit has provided a baseline for our water consumption and will inform future maintenance and upgrade plans.
Mountain views, wild ecosystems, and native vegetation are precious to the campus community and as habitat for Colorado wildlife. 33% of Fort Lewis College’s 237-acres campus is maintained as natural areas of native vegetation. Bears, mountain lions, mule deer, foxes and more all use the Fort Lewis College as part of their habitat.
The Fort Lewis College herbarium is a research collection of plant and fungal specimens totaling over 15,000. This collection is fully databased and available on-line and is the largest such collection in western Colorado. It contains the most comprehensive information on native plant and fungal species occurrences in our area.
Fort Lewis College is recognized as a Tree Campus under the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree Campus USA” program. This program awards colleges and universities for their commitment to sustainable tree care and urban and community forestry. Trees serve to beautify our environment, provide wildlife habitat, conserve energy, and help address larger environmental issues. As part of this program, Fort Lewis has removed non-native invasive trees, focused on the planting of trees suitable to our environment, and trained staff in proper tree care technique. The program also oversees the Class Tree Project where each year the incoming class plants a tree on campus as part of new student orientation and has encouraged the use of our campus trees in classroom instruction.