Troy University’s arboretum was recently awarded $4,000 total in grants from the Wiregrass Resource, Conservation and Development Council and Walmart for continued upgrades and improvements.
Dr. Alvin Diamond, arboretum director and biology professor, said the $3,000 grant from Wiregrass RC&D will be used to re-install kiosks near the trailheads of the Magnolia Loop and Meadow Loop half-mile trails, along with placing markers with scientific and common names for plants to assist in re-establishing the self-guided nature trail.
“These were self-guiding nature trails with marked stops that identified interesting plants or habitats and had an accompanying trail guide which provided information about each stop. In addition, there were individual markers throughout the arboretum providing the common and scientific names of plants along the trails, and two kiosks with maps, arboretum rules and educational posters,” he said. “Due to storm damage, lack of maintenance, age and vandalism, the trails at the arboretum have been closed for a number of years. The trails have been cleared and we are now ready to identify the plant species.”
The plant identification markers will also feature a QR code that will allow visitors to scan the code and be directed to a website that will provide more information on the plant. Additional information will include nativity, human and wildlife uses, cultural information and interesting facts and will be developed by students in the Tri Beta Honor Society within the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.
The $1,000 grant from Walmart will be used to create a pitcher plant bog. Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants that trap and digest insects and small animals.
Diamond said the outpouring of support over the last year since the College of Arts and Sciences regained care of the arboretum has made all the difference in its rehabilitation. In addition to other grants, the arboretum has been flooded with faculty and student volunteers as well as volunteers from community organizations, like the Kiwanis Club and local Girl Scout troops.
“The community support has been great. It’s wonderful to have help to get us back to at least where we used to be. We’ve made a lot of progress. It’s been a daunting task to undertake, but we’re really starting to see the progress,” he said. “I didn’t know how long it was going to take, I just knew we were going to get it done one way or another. We encourage everyone to come out and see what we’re doing and enjoy the arboretum.”
The arboretum encompasses 75-acres and features seven and a half miles of nature trails, over 500 identified plant species, a pond, an outdoor classroom and an indoor classroom. Classes are currently being held in the newly-renovated outdoor classroom, and an area has been cleared for a pollinator garden for bees, butterflies and other important pollinators. Future upgrades will feature removing invasive species, planting native azaleas and magnolias and establishing a wildflower garden.
Four trails are open for use. Dogs and bikes are welcome.
To stay up-to-date on the latest projects, visit the arboretum’s Facebook page.