Resource Advisory Group Seeks Improved Natural Area, Audubon Certification

Christine Dahlin, PhD

posted December 02, 2016


Students and faculty conducting bird banding and West Nile surveillance on the natural area during the SPUR-Biodiversity Program. From left: Brianna Berkey, Dr. Jill Henning, Corinne Bozich, Dr. Christine Dahlin, Corey Coleman, and Luke Degroote. A banded common yellow-throat is held by Dr. Dahlin.

Pitt-Johnstown has formed a Resource Advisory Group, which has goals of improving the campus natural area and ultimately achieving the distinction as a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP).

Improving our management of the natural area has the potential to provide benefits for wildlife, for our faculty and students who use the natural area as a teaching and research resource, and for community members who could benefit from an improved trail system.

The formation of this group is a follow-up to the University becoming certified in Environmental Planning by the ACSP in February 2016.

In order to achieve its goals for the natural area, the group seeks to improve environmental and management practices at Pitt-Johnstown and to make the campus a leader in community environmental practices. 

Under the direction of Pitt-Johnstown Grounds Supervisor David Finney and Assistant Professor Christine Dahlin, the Advisory Group has:

  • Prepared a Wildlife Management Plan for the natural area. This was done by Tammy Colt of the South-West Game Commission. Some components of the plan have already been implemented
  • Made improvements to the trail system on the natural area, with more to come
  • Enabled students from the ornithology lab to conduct surveys of campus buildings to determine how windows impact birds
  • Recycled 13.5 tons of library books rather than simply discard them in summer 2016
  • Provided a means for students to assist with recycling under the guidance of education faculty members

The ACSP Advisory Group has the goal of developing the full potential of our natural area for use as an educational resource, to provide a way for students, employees and the public to connect with nature and learn about biodiversity on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. We have the following aims:

  1. Renovate existing trails
  2. Expand the trail system, starting with the pre-existing nature trail system and later expanding them to encircle the natural area
  3. Mark trails with permanent structures
  4. Design an App to be used in conjunction with trail markers to learn about flora, fauna and geological features of the trails 

View trail system map, developed by Dr. Bruce Robart >

Students interested in this venture may earn credits or an internship. For more information, contact the Resource Advisory Group chairs:

Learn more about this effort: