In 2010, Yale University enacted its first Sustainability Strategic Plan. One of the focus areas of this plan was to increase student and community engagement with the University’s sustainable initiatives. In response to this plan, the Hixon Center for Urban Sustainability provided grant funding for student and faculty assessment of the Yale Experimental Watershed (YEW), with the primary goal of encouraging its use as a living lab. The vision for the YEW, a 5.5 acre site between Prospect and Mansfield Streets, is to transform it from an underutilized and overgrown site to one that is of great value to the University and the community – where academic research and teaching is conducted, and community members can learn and explore.
Fieldwork and research projects have included tree identification and mapping, coarse woody material assessment, soil sampling and testing, land cover mapping, bird habitat investigation, and site hydrology and groundwater monitoring. The site has also been used as an educational resource, for graduate courses in the School of the Environment, for students in the Common Ground Green Jobs Corps and the Yale S.C.H.O.L.A.R. Program, and for interns from high schools such as Amistad Achievement First and the Hopkins School.