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Stanford University plans new facility for Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve

A new $5-million educational and research facility will be established at Stanford University's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Philippe Cohen, director of the preserve, has announced.

Jasper Ridge, which lies on 1,189 acres of Stanford land at the northwest corner of the campus, routinely supports 45 to 50 research projects annually, with the majority directed by Stanford faculty and students. Parts of Jasper Ridge have been used for educational and research purposes since the founding of the university in 1891.

The new facility will be designed primarily to enhance and accommodate current levels of research and educational activity, rather than to significantly increase levels of use, Cohen said. Plans call for 10,000 square feet of new useable space. When the new facility is completed, some of the buildings currently in use will be removed and the sites restored, Cohen said.

Jasper Ridge's current facilities are overused, outdated and, in some cases, relics of the era when Searsville Lake, which lies within the preserve, was used for recreation, Cohen said. Design and construction methods for the new building will emphasize the use of green/sustainable strategies that minimize both local impacts and long-term resource consumption, he said. The architect is Rob Wellington Quigley, and the general contractor is Bill Butler of W. L. Butler Construction Inc.

Planning for the center was made possible by a lead gift from Bill and Jean Lane of Portola Valley. The new facility will be named in memory of Leslie S. Sun, a Stanford alumna and docent at the preserve. The naming is in recognition of memorial gifts in her honor and a gift from her husband, Anthony Sun, that total $1.25 million. Donations for the building to date have reached $2.75 million.

Jean Lane, who has been a docent at Jasper Ridge since 1976, recalled that she hiked through the property long before it became a preserve, and her husband rode his horses along its trails. Bill Lane noted that "as we enter the century of the environment, research at Jasper Ridge will have even greater global significance. The preserve is a vital, tangible, living, hands-on educational treasure that we must preserve and support."

Jasper Ridge is visited annually by about 1,000 Stanford undergraduates, 200 to 500 non-Stanford college students, and 1,500 to 2,000 local schoolchildren. Docents lead tours for an additional 3,000 to 5,000 alumni, community residents and the general public each year.

Despite heavy public use, Jasper Ridge continues to support a broad range of habitats typical of the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. These habitats range from the rare and fragile serpentine grasslands to riparian, oak woodland, chaparral and mixed broadleaf forests. The closeness of the preserve has been vital to research and teaching at Stanford. Its long research history includes landmark studies such as Paul Ehrlich's 40-year study of the Bay Checkerspot butterfly population. Other important areas of research include landscape dynamics, plant carbon balance, ecosystem responses to global change, microclimatic and evolutionary determinants of species distributions and exotic species invasions.

Stanford's program in ecology and population biology was ranked number one in the country by a recent National Research Council assessment. Ehrlich recently noted that "Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve stands as a symbol of one university's determination to keep a sizable parcel of some of the most valuable non-urban land in the world from being developed. It suggests that even large, bureaucratic organizations can look up from the 'bottom line' and vote to preserve non-monetary values."

A fundraising committee including the Lanes; Sun, of Atherton; Eff and Patty Martin, of Woodside; William Gomez, of Atherton; and John Working, of Palo Alto, will lead an effort to raise the remaining funds for the project from local residents, corporations and foundations, Cohen said. Plans call for site preparation work to begin during the summer with completion by spring, Cohen said, to minimize disruption of biological activity as well as ongoing research and educational activities.


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