To: Luther Seminary Board of Directors
Lauderdale Mayor and City Council
Falcon Heights Mayor and City Council
St. Anthony Park Community Council
University of Minnesota Director of Community and Government Relations
Re: Future of Breck Woods
With the recent announcement that Luther Seminary has decided to sell off 15 acres of its campus, including Breck Woods, we wish to present the following considerations for maintaining the woods as a natural green habitat:
1. Breck Woods is unique in that it lies on a ridge that once formed a bank of the ancient Mississippi River. It is one of the last parcels of undeveloped land along that former riverbed.
2. Breck Woods is a natural habitat comprised of a variety of native trees and a wetland, which is home to a multitude of birds, mammals and insects, forming a rich ecosystem.
3. Breck Woods provides a natural barrier for the neighborhood against the noise, air pollution and unsightliness of the highway and rail yards to the west.
4. In today's increasingly hot and unstable climate, it is well-established that cities must not only nurture but expand our green and natural spaces for the health of our planet and population. The woods guard against soil erosion, provide oxygen, and cool the air temperature.
5. In an era of alarming threats of extinction, including our own native Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee, one of the key factors is loss and isolation of habitat. Breck Woods provides an important linkage of habitat as it connects via the green University trolley corridor to the wetland behind 1666 Coffman and beyond to the open fields of the University.
6. The proximity of Breck Woods to educational institutions such as the various departments of the University, the Bee Lab, Raptor Center, the Bell Museum and Gibbs Farm Museum suggest future possible educational partnerships.
7. Breck Woods has been owned by enlightened educational institutions since 1900. For more than 100 years the woods have been generously open to its neighbors for walking paths, dog runs, exploring and communing with nature. It has always served as a de facto nature preserve for the community.
We are grateful that Luther Seminary has shared this beautiful gift of God's creation with the neighborhood at large. Now as it puts its land up for sale we seek respectfully to find ways to continue Breck Woods' vital role in sustaining a nurturing environment for us all. We envision a green, enduring and revived natural habitat to sustain animals as well as humans. We urge Luther Seminary and the community-at-large to move deliberatively and cautiously in disposing of this asset, in consideration of the invaluable service this forest provides, and in keeping with its charge to be a good steward of the earth.
We are a group of Lauderdale, Falcon Heights, and St. Paul residents. We are writing to gain support of efforts to conserve Breck Woods for future public use and wildlife habitat. The importance of retaining this piece of undeveloped nature was recognized in the 2006 Bridal Veil Creek Report by the Mississippi Watershed Management in which they poignantly noted: "Very few people remember the value of the natural areas that existed prior to the industrialization and Highway 280 construction."