UF students protest future McCarty Woods development

Published: Mar. 13, 2021 at 6:34 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - 2.9 acres of trees and wildlife sit in the heart of University of Florida campus. Since 2000, McCarty Woods has been protected from development for conservation and now the UF Campus Master Plan 2020-2030 states that majority of the woods will be a future building site.

Savannah Cantrell is a wildlife ecology and conservation major and says for students like her, McCarty Woods serves as a classroom.

“By developing new classrooms they’re taking away ours,” Cantrell said. “What we’re trying to do is reverse that decision. We want them to keep Mcarty woods as a conservation area. Most importantly, I urge the University of Florida to Care.”

The master plan states “In this strategy, McCarty Woods is reduced to slightly more than one acre due to its relatively low ecological value and high potential as a development site contiguous to core campus.”

To spread the word, they walked from Lake Alice, stopped at McCarty Woods and ended at the administrative building, Tigert Hall, and called on administration to save their classrooms.

“Save McCarty Woods, save McCarty Woods,” students chanted.

Related story: UF students create mural to protest bill that would limit student aid programs to certain majors

“We were kind of blindsided with it,” wildlife ecology and conservation major, Sierra Scauzillo said. “So, just getting people aware that, hey our conservation area is up for grabs and we have to have a say in it. We have to make our voices known.”

The plan does say conservation lands will be increased around Lake Alice Creek, but students say that’s not enough.

“Offsetting it to Lake Alice isn’t fair to the habitat,” Cantrell added. “It isn’t fair to the wildlife, to the plants, or to us.”

Sustainability major, Vasilios Kosmakos, said he organized this protest to show that students care.

“McCarty Woods is the heart of campus and I think it’s invaluable,” Kosmakos said, “Over 20 different classrooms use this for one reason or another, students use this, students care about this. This is beyond just three acres of woods, this stands for much more.”

A petition protesting the development already has over 14 thousand signatures. For more information on the cause and to sign the petition Click Here.

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