Drew University gets a nod from the Christie administration for leadership in environmentalism.

MADISON, NJ—Thousands of trees on Drew University’s campus are now breathing a little easier thanks to an unprecedented forest rehab campaign that replaced noxious plant life with native vegetation. That effort, led by Dr. Sara Webb, professor of biology, and Michael Kopas, director of facilities and special projects, captured the spirit of Drew’s commitment to the health of its campus—and the attention of New Jersey Governor Christopher J. Christie, who recently named Drew the winner of the state’s Environmental Excellence Award for healthy ecosystems.

“Drew’s commitment to an eco-friendly and sustainable world begins right here on our own campus,” says University President Vivian A. Bull. “In continuing to undertake cutting-edge environmental projects, we not only make progress toward restoring our environment, but we also teach the next generation how to build on today’s research and best practices.”

The effort to save Drew’s forest preserve was waged with the help the New Jersey Audubon Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—both of which donated labor and materials for the recovery effort. These allowed for the replacement of invasive plant species—like wisteria, oriental bittersweet, Norway maples, garlic mustard and Japanese stilt grass—with native wildflowers like mayapple and trillium.

The project was also supported by Madison residents and environmentalists Chris Hepburn and Ken Martin, whose gift of $155,000 paid for the 10-foot-high deer fence that now surrounds a 30-acre tract of forest, preventing the area’s large population white-tailed deer from over-feeding.

Drew received the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award at a ceremony at the New Jersey State Museum in late January. The awards program, which is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, recognized organizations that “have set a truly high standard for environmental excellence,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.