Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Save the Bernard Field Station

The Students for the Bernard Field Station is a nonviolent group of students at the Claremont Colleges fighting for the preservation in perpetuity of the entire Field Station and opposing any plans to develop this land. We are unequivocally opposed to the plan to relocate the Keck Graduate Institute to the Bernard Field Station. We believe that the BFS struggle is a micro-level analogy for extensive widespread degradation of the environment throughout the United States and the world. We are determined to stop the destruction of a natural habitat by what we deem to be extraneous development.

This blog is meant to keep you up-to-date with what’s happening with the BFS right now.

Here is a short synopsis of its most recent history:

The BFS is an endangered Coastal Sage Scrub habitat just north of Harvey Mudd College. It is used for projects in biology, environmental science, and other academic pursuits by the students and faculty of the Claremont Colleges. In the Fall of 2008, the western 11.4 acres of it were ultimately sold to HMC, and HMC owns it as of January 6, 2009. HMC plans to build a parking lot on this land to accommodate the specifications imposed by the city of Claremont. While HMC says it will be a “green” parking lot, we must stress that there is not such thing as a green parking lot.

The land at the BFS offers unique opportunities to improve the education of all the Claremont Colleges. The BFS is safe and accessible, and it contains undisturbed habitats that provide an authentic field biology experience that cannot be easily accomplished anywhere else. It would be far better, both for the sustainability of its ecology and for its ecological educational value, if the BFS were to remain intact. The idea of paving some of it for a parking lot seems particularly appalling when parking lots can clearly be built underground or as elevated structures elsewhere on campus.

The last time the Claremont Colleges decided to build on this land, more than 100 students protested. On March 26, 2001, students barricaded the entrance to Pendleton Business Building (www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZka6x-4Yo4, www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm4hIhOgkeE). The 2001 protests and a lawsuit by the Friends of the Bernard Field Station led to a settlement that preserves 45 acres of the field station until the year 2051, on the contingency that there is no opposition when the colleges decide to build on the other 41 acres. With the motto “Expect Resistance,” it seems unlikely that the Students for the Bernard Field Station will just sit by and let the habitat at the BFS be paved. Anyone who cares about the environment, sustainability, and social justice would agree that you cannot be passive about this.

The land at the BFS, which is an invaluable resource to the students and faculty of the Claremont Colleges as well as the wider community, is truly worth protecting in the name of education and sustainability.

Please leave comments or email us at SAVEtheBFS@gmail.com

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