School of Science
The Tor is primarily overseen by department head Dr. Richard Feldman, whose consistent surveying and attentive attitude inspire not just his students but many in the department to take part in his desire to maintain Fer Tor’s natural integrity and upkeep. With the help of the grounds team, headed by Brian Coons, other faculty, and all of Dr. Feldman’s student-oriented organized efforts, many of the improvements made in the preserve can be traced directly back to Dr. Feldman.
One of the largest projects in the preserve is that of removing the invasive Japanese Knotweed plant that has invaded much of the property. This is a large endeavor that has spanned many undergraduate terms, yet is continued to be spearheaded by Dr. Feldman with the assistance of many undergraduate Environmental students. There has been much success with one section of the preserve along the pond where a combination of animal assistance, seasonal maintenance pulling, tarping, and the use of allelopathic plants such as black walnut tree assistance in the continued prevention of regrowth without the use of chemical herbicides.
During the fall semester of 2020, Feldman asked two environmental science majors, Gabriel Mongeau ’21 and Hartley Walker Money ’21, to lead the Trees for Tribs project at Marist. Their role was to take the NYSDEC’s recommendations for each plant species and decide where each species should be planted in Fern Tor. Thirteen were selected: silver maple, smooth alder, buttonbush, silky dogwood, flowering dogwood, red-osier dogwood, swamp rose, pussy willow, American black elderberry, black gum, arrowwood viburnum, nannyberry, and cranberry bush.
“We also put a lot of effort into organizing the volunteers and supervising them,” said Mongeau. They coordinated 18 volunteers as well as 9 students from one of Feldman’s classes and taught them how to plant the saplings.