Although the area on the west side of campus were once wetlands, the deterioration of the area resulted in a positive use of the badly-needed space where they stood.

Unlike other protected wetlands along Utah Lake, the mitigated wetlands on campus were cleared for space for the growing school. Randyl Nielson/UVU Review

Last semester, the decision was made to remove from campus an area referred to as wetlands. This is not a negative choice for this area.

This decision will utilize an area of land on campus that was not classified properly, had not been used in over five years and provides additional land for a campus that struggles to find space.

“We brought in the Army Core of Engineers to test if it was a wetland or not,” said Jim Michaelis, associate vice president of Facilities Planning. “After eighteen months of testing, it was shown that the area was not a wetland.”

When the university built its events center, that land was classified as a wetland. When a wetland is constructed over, it has to be mitigated, in this case to the south of Utah Lake. When this more recent area was removed for more parking and playing fields, there was no required mitigation of this land.

“We were not required to mitigate this land,” said Michaelis. “When people mention mitigation, we are still working on the previous mitigation from the event center. It is not holding to the south of Utah Lake, so we are working on moving it to the north of the lake.”

While it is understandable to be upset over the removal of the wetlands area, this area had not been used since 2005.

“My classes stopped using the wetlands in 2005 when the administration wouldn’t give a long-term commitment to the area,” said Biology Professor Renee Van Buren. “We lost the enthusiasm to maintain the area without the commitment. It wasn’t a battle we wanted to try and fight. I felt there were better routes we could take.”

This campus is just over two million square feet with 32,670 students according to UVU Fall 2010 enrollment data.. Compared to the University of Utah, whose square footage is just below 10 million square feet for roughly the same number of students, our campus is in desperate need of more space.

With the wetlands area not in use, the university is adding much-needed space to the campus.

One should use the resources that are provided, whether they are natural resources or available space. This area that is referred to as the wetlands was like any other unprotected space on campus: another open space that needs to be used to accommodate the growing number of students at this university.

The plan the university has for this part of land is to add parking spots and additional playing fields, allowing the campus some much-needed breathing room. The expectation is that this construction will be completed and ready for use for the spring semester of 2011.

Don’t be upset over the loss of the area that was referred to as the wetlands. It is not a loss for the campus, but a way to open up new areas of growth for a campus that desperately needs it.