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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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University receives large tract of prairie, wetland for research

Donated by Radichel family

Donated wetland allows realistic environmental research.

By Tanner Kent, Free Press Staff Writer [published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 5/25/2011]

Free Press photo by Pat ChristmanKelly Ferguson
The Radichel family has donated 58 acres of prairie and wetland to Minnesota State University for environmental research. Pictured are Patti Kramlinger (right), development director for MSU, and Brad Radichel standing on the northern edge of the property, which is northeast of the Highway 14 and Third Avenue intersection.

Minnesota State Mankato's newest classroom and research facility is blanketed in hip-high grass and overcome by all manner of native flora and fauna.

The 58-acre tract of prairie and wetland is also the first land donation in the university’s history and believed to be the first such donation in the history of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system.

The gift was announced Tuesday during a news conference on the edge of the property, a largely undeveloped area northeast of the intersection of Highway 14 and Third Avenue. The donation was made by Lime Valley Development Company and the family of Darlene and William Radichel.

“This will provide our next generation of students the opportunity to learn first-hand about the issues and science of water and wetland resources,” said Brad Cook, a Minnesota State Mankato biology instructor who underscored the importance of wetland research by telling those in attendance that water is projected to become even more limited than fossil fuels in coming decades.

“This site contains a variety of wetlands surrounded by a realistic landscape of Minnesota,” Cook said.

At least eight instructors from five other departments are preparing courses that utilize the land: civil engineering, construction management, geology, chemistry and urban planning.

Stephen Druschel, a civil engineering instructor, said his students have long used city parks to conduct field activities. But those opportunities allow students perhaps a day of study. The new environmental research plot will allow students to conduct studies “for a semester, a whole year, or over the course of a few years.”

The Radichels have been longtime supporters of Minnesota State Mankato. In 2006 the family gave an endowment to pay student assistant curators to maintain the Darlene and William Radichel Herbarium.

The Corps of Engineers has granted permission for Minnesota State Mankato to conduct research on the wetlands -- one of the few environmentally sensitive tracts in the state where research is permitted.

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