Grady Erwin nature area, trails to open

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The following will be placed on a plaque at the entrance to the trails

The Well Woods will receive a new name, Grady Erwin Nature Area in memory of Dr. Grady Erwin, former Department Head of Biology, who passed away in October 1989. For years, the woods were known as “Normal Wells”. All the water for the college was drawn from six wells. After the wells began to silt and sand in, the area was turned into a campsite with tables and grills for campus organization picnics.

The Well Woods contains all the stages of environmental succession. Its beech-maple climax vegetation is quite unique and would take five to ten centuries to reappear should a disturbance occur. It is a virgin type forest which represents vegetation present at the time of the earliest settlers in this region. The woods may then represent the only virgin type forest on the “El Camino Real Highway.”  In 1961, Dr. Grady Erwin, Earl Cross, George Ware, and members of the Departments of Biology and Agriculture initiated steps to establish the “Normal Wells” as a nature reserve area.

The Nature Conservancy sent scientists to Northwestern in 1964 to survey the area, and later endorsed the establishment of the area as a nature reserve area. Louisiana State Board of Colleges approved the establishment of the 84 acre Well Woods Nature Reserve area in 1965. Dr. Erwin’s tenure at Northwestern started in 1945 when he was first employed as an associate professor.

Photos by Juanice Gray

Later appointed to the Department headship in 1952, he served in this capacity until 1973 when he retired. As Department Head of Biology, he built a department which is recognized throughout the State of Louisiana for its academic superiority. While at Northwestern, Dr. Erwin’s own personal activities in the development of BSCS (Biological Sciences Curriculum Studies) and National Science Foundation work brought national recognition to Louisiana and Northwestern State University.

Dr. Erwin enjoyed the admiration and respect of all who have had the privilege of being associated with him. He touched the lives of a large number of students in such a way that their lives were made better by their brief encounter with him.

To preserve his memory, not only has the Grady Erwin Nature Area been established, but a scholarship fund has been started. The Grady Erwin scholarship will maintain his longtime interest in the education of biology students. The Biology Faculty would like to invite you to participate in increasing the available funds for this academic scholarship. Send your contribution to the NSU Foundation made out to the Grady Erwin Fund.