Land Sale Shocks Sceince Department

By Chester Collins

"I think it's a tragedy that such a magnificent gift to the college and the community has become so controversial," said Bob Blanc, the Chairman of the land committee formed by the Mendocino College Foundation after it received 1,800 acres of land northwest of the campus. The land issue continues on the college campus regarding the land donated in 1995 by Thomas Evans to the foundation.
The foundation's decision to sell the property has divided staff and students with many feeling the land's value has not yet been evaluated adequately. Others feel there has been enough discussion and most of the land should be sold.
"From the time the ranch was gifted, the plan was to sell some of the land," said Blanc. The money gained by the sale of the land will go to the foundation for use in scholarships and staff development he said. One student upset about the land sale said it shouldn't be sold "It is a gift to all students and is more valuable than money," said Derek Dahlen. (For more student input on the land issue look at Question Person)
The Foundation is in the process of selling over 60 percent of the land donated. Blanc explained that the value of the land goes up slowly, while value of money goes up quicker. This is the reason the Foundation is liquidating a large portion of the land. He said only the interest on the money from the sale will be spent on scholarships and staff development. However, Blanc said that he "never sat down with any of the (Mendocino College) staff to talk about the land."
Science instructor Bob Wallen said that the science faculty was totally left out of the decision to sell the land. In a recent Academic Senate meeting Wallen called for a halt on all sale of the land on the market. He said that the foundation has placed "economic value over educational value" in its dealings with the land. Wallen said Mendocino College could be "put on the map" by having an outside laboratory where watershed research could go on. He knows of no other junior college that has a watershed of this scale.
Carl Ehmann, president of Mendocino College, disagrees that the science faculty was left out and that the land sale should be disrupted. "I don't think it (the sale) has to be halted. The science faculty had been invited to participate in the discussion. I am hoping while people disagree we can work together to get the best of both worlds. To sell property to develop revenue for student and staff support and have upwards to 1,100 acres for various appropriate projects," Ehmann said.
Over 14 times the size of our campus, the land given by Evans is the largest gift ever to the foundation. The headwaters of Hensley Creek and a portion of its drainage lie on this land. Wallen said "One of the problems on our planet is that we are destroying our natural environments. We have almost an intact watershed here; we want to show the educational and instructional value of this land."
The land committee has put aside a parcel with the headwaters on it, Blanc said. " However it was not a specific goal of the land committee to keep the entire Hensley creek drainage system."

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