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Eco-Corridor Think Tank

The Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor and Little Westham Creek connects UR's campus to the James River. The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) has collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to support this initiative in several ways, including a faculty fellowship group, facilitating student involvement, and creating opportunities for community-based learning on campus. 

The Eco-Corridor project includes four key components: 

  1. Construction of a multi-use recreational trail
  2. Removal of invasive plants
  3. Management of stormwater
  4. Restoration of Little Westham Creek

As part of the Eco-Corridor master plan, Little Westham Creek will be restored and extended by nearly 1,000 feet. Trees, shrubs, and other ground cover will be planted along the trail, and invasive species were removed to allow for the growth of native plants. The Eco-Corridor project also includes a multi-use, paved trail that connects two major cycling routes in Richmond, a meadow walk, improved stormwater management, a woodland walk, and outdoor teaching space. 

Learn more about the Eco-Corridor master plan on the Sustainability website

Eco-Corridor Think Tank Faculty Fellows

In 2018-19, the CCE collaborated with the Office of Sustainability to organize an Eco-Corridor Think Tank. This group of cross-disciplinary faculty and staff members came together to reimagine the Eco-Corridor as as a place for learning, exploration, and positive environmental impact. 

Themes that emerged during the Think Tank meetings—including nature, community, reflection, education, and well-being—informed a master plan for the development of the Eco-Corridor. 

Based on those themes, the final design for the Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor includes the following features: 

  • Restoration of Little Westham Creek
  • Realignment and paving of 10-foot-wide Gambles Mill Trail with planting of shrubs, buffer trees, and ground cover along trail
  • Creation of a meadow walk with native plantings, a woodland walk, and spaces for teaching outdoors
  • Native trees, shrubs, perennials, seeding, and a seat wall at the wastewater remnant site
  • Gates, bollards, and signage at the north and south ends of the trail
  • New water line to the Community Garden with backflow preventer and three hose bibs
  • Stormwater management demonstration areas, including a bio-swale, rain garden, and level spreaders
  • Informal paths to the stream

The Eco-Corridor Faculty Fellows in 2018-19 were:

Todd Lookingbill, Geography & the Environment, and Biology
Emily Boone, Biology
Yetkin Borlu, Sociology
Tim Hamilton, Economics
Elizabeth Outka, English
David Salisbury, Geography & the Environment
Jennifer Sevin, Biology
Patricia Stohr-Hunt, Education
Shital Thekdi, Management
Carrie Wu, Biology

Community-Based Learning and "Campus as Living Lab" 

The Eco-Corridor introduces new opportunities for a "campus as living lab" approach to teaching. Faculty across the University of Richmond can use the Eco-Corridor as a place to center community-based learning courses and to connect their in-class lessons with the campus environment.