Changes to “The Bush” at Millersville causes controversy

By Harrison Wallace

The Bush’s plowed land where the new dorms and parking lot will be constructed. (Photo by Harrison Wallace)

The Bush’s plowed land where the new dorms and parking lot will be constructed. (Photo by Harrison Wallace)

The Bush, a wooded plot between Creek Drive and Centennial Drive or between Pucillo gym and Millersville’s new student parking lot, has been used to help students learn, getting job experience in the field and, now,  a living area. Now, the future of this plot of land is the subject of some debate.

The university created new dorms and a parking lot next to the bush property, and within this caused a bit of plowed area for a drainage pond.

Some at the university are unhappy with the changes to this piece of land.

Robert T. Smith, dean of MU’s science and math departments, told LancasterOnline, “I wish we had known in detail what was going to happen.”

“We’re trying to channel our anger, not unleash it,” said Daniel Yokom, a biology professor at Millersville University, to a staff writer at LancasterOnline.  “I saw people weeping in the hallways when they heard the news.”

This is also the underlying anger with this new construction to the Bush which is that faculty, staff and students were not let in on the construction until after the decision was made.

“It was in the Bush where I learned about the invasive qualities of non-native plants and what types of removal and restoration techniques are best,” said Rebecca McCabe, a student at Millersville university.

Dr. Ken Miller, a retired biology professor from Millersville University, told LancasterOnline, “Taking field trips out here brought people together with the beautiful wildflowers in the spring.”

The biggest difference will be finding in ways to use the Bush for the biology classes.

“For the short term, the Bush has lost some species diversity, and it is likely that weedy, non-native plants will grow up in their place unless we actively manage and restore the Bush, but in the long term no major effects will occur,” said Dr. Chris Hardy, a botany professor at Millersville, in an email.

“We can monitor what begins to grow in newly formed edge habitats,” said Andrew Wolfgang, a student at Millersville university.

Another good reason to do this is for the student’s living arrangements.

“Well, the Bush was hurt because of construction of new dorms. The new dorms should attract new students to the university,” said Dr. Hardy.

Some students and faculty criticized the way the project was handled.

“So many departments and classes could have assisted with the design and planning, for example Aquatic Biology could have designed water infiltration methods from pervious surface to rain gardens,” said McCabe.

“There could have been a better way to do this,” Hardy said.