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September 19, 2018

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Bluffton council will act on university annexation request

Portion of nature preserve on Augsburger Road

The Village of Bluffton’s boundaries are set to expand toward the northwest.

On Monday the council will act on a resolution to accept a parcel of Bluffton University property into the village through annexation.

The parcel is part of what is known as the university’s nature preserve on Augsburger Road. The university intends to build a classroom a portion of the preserve that is not currently in the village.

The annexation will allow the university to pay the inside rates for water and sewer.

Background on the construction project

A 1,800 square foot Moyer Nature Center has been funded and is scheduled for completion later this fall within the Bluffton University Nature Preserve

“This project will provide a very useful multi-purpose building for environmental science education within the northwest Ohio region,” said Dr. James Harder, Bluffton University president.  “Bluffton University is most grateful to Harriett Moyer, a Bluffton native, resident and alumna, for her passion for educating for environmental sustainability and for fully providing the funds needed for this new facility.”
The Moyer Nature Center’s name also recognizes Harriett’s late husband, Keith Moyer, a 1950 graduate of Bluffton, who shared her passion for environmental sustainability.
“The university’s 160 acre nature preserve, located immediately adjacent to the main campus, has long been a special place for appreciating the natural world and for learning,” Harder noted.

“But it has lacked the physical program center to realize its full potential. This new structure will help facilitate environmental education opportunities for all ages in years to come.”

Moyer Nature Center
The Moyer Nature Center is an early manifestation of “Simply Innovate—the Campaign for Bluffton.” The building’s environmental science focus will complement the campaign’s signature project, the Austin E. Knowlton Science Center, which is scheduled to be open on the main campus in 2020.

Contractors began clearing the building site for the Moyer Nature Center late last month. The new 30 by 60 foot building will be constructed of metal, wood and cultured stone with a vaulted ceiling and pond views.
Located between the Nature Preserve’s pond and parking area, the facility will feature program space for mid-size groups supported by municipal water and fully accessible restroom facilities.  It will greatly enhance the usability of the Nature Preserve for field study in botany and environmental sciences, recreational leadership programming, and public education about the natural environment and sustainability.
Bluffton’s science faculty have strong commitments to helping students understand the linkages between scientific research, study and environmental sustainability. Bluffton’s general education program reflects this commitment through a number of courses including “The Biological World” and “Global Climate Change.” Through enhanced field study potential, the Moyer Nature Center will greatly enhance these courses and others in the biology major such as "Botany" and "General Ecology.”
With this permanent structure, Bluffton science faculty envision being able to establish long-term projects, not currently possible, including weather and climate studies, water quality monitoring in the pond and Riley Creek, and documentation and study of aquatic life, birds and mammals.  These projects will provide opportunities for undergraduate research and educational programs for area youth.