UB students think outside the box about environmental problems

Chris Renschler is pictured here with stakeholders.

Chris Renschler (left) is pictured here with stakeholders from various federal, state, local and tribal agencies, and nonprofit organizations who attended the students’ presentations. Photo: Charlotte Hsu

By Charlotte Hsu


Rock snot. Ice jam flooding. Nitrogen pollution. An influx of hydrilla, an invasive plant that resembles a bottlebrush.

Each fall, UB students in an environmental management class come up with creative proposals for tackling these and other challenges facing the Cattaraugus Creek watershed.

And year after year, stakeholders from the Seneca Nation of Indians and local, state and federal agencies visit UB to hear what the students have to say.

The course, “Integrated Environmental Management,” has been taught by Chris Renschler, associate professor of geography in the College of Arts and Sciences, for about 15 years. UB law professor Barry Boyer was also initially involved, but he retired from UB in 2009.

“The students give a fresh perspective, and I over the years have been able to entertain some of their ideas,” says Michael Gates, director of Seneca Nation Emergency Management, who has attended the students’ presentations annually since about 2010.

He notes the Seneca Nation is working on plans to develop wetlands, including areas revegetated with local plant species raised in a plant nursery, to help protect communities from flooding — concepts that a number of past classes, as well as outside experts, have proposed. 


Published December 12, 2018

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