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Students execute Operation Lorax to enhance campus beauty

October 24, 2013

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    Photos by Katrina Staaf ’16.
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As a way of paying homage to a beloved Dr. Seuss book and to their own values, student group Mystical Groves used their entire budget to execute a project called Operation Lorax. The project involved enhancement of Lewis & Clark’s tree canopy, as well as the engraving of a large rectangular stone that states, “Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Kevin “Otter” Kell ’13 founded Mystical Groves during his first year at Lewis & Clark after advocating on behalf of trees that were eventually cut down to make way for Gregg Pavilion.

“I started Mystical Groves to help develop a stronger sense of community on the campus as a whole,” Kell said. Since then, members have met each week to support and challenge each other’s personal growth. In Kell’s case, the meetings helped him channel a feeling of helplessness into one of innovation and perseverance that became tangible with the success of Operation Lorax.

Members of Mystical Groves worked with Gabe Bishop and Suzie Spencer of Facilities Services to ensure proper selection and placement of trees. In addition to an oak tree planted on the lawn behind Odell Hall (where the stone is also located) and a maple tree planted near Templeton Campus Center’s outdoor stairs, four native trees were planted on the lawn in front of Stewart Hall. These trees contribute to Spencer’s personal goal of planting 100 trees on campus within the next five years, as well as Facilities Services’ goal to receive designation as a Tree Campus USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

“The 100 Trees program was developed to communicate the value of trees to our community and to ensure a viable and diverse canopy for future Lewis & Clark communities,” Spencer said. As indicated by Mystical Groves’ careful choices about their planting, the success of this project required consideration of multiple factors: new trees must increase the diversity of the existing canopy, fulfill roles of those that have previously been removed, and be located in open spaces that do not conflict with future construction plans.

Joshua Proto ’16, the current leader of Mystical Groves, hopes that the stone will serve as a permanent reminder to the community of just how important it is to follow through on your dreams, desires, passions, and goals. With Operation Lorax, members of Mystical Groves have succeeded in their ambition to highlight the importance of humanity’s duty to the environment.

This year, the group is working to apply for a Green Fee Fund grant that will allow them to plant more trees. They intend to put any additional money in their budget toward the same cause.

Katrina Staaf ’16 contributed to this story.

Sustainability at Lewis & Clark