Letters  On Saving Breck Woods


Editor’s note: Luther Seminary has put the 7-acre Breck Woods, along with underused portions of its property, up for sale.

“Think globally; act locally” is a motto to live by, and this neighborhood “gets” it. We have a well-deserved reputation for living in response to environmental and social problems, in spite of skeptics. There are always those who might scoff that walking, biking or taking the bus won’t solve global warming. Or that recycling and composting won’t help, either. Maybe planting a pollinator-friendly garden and refusing to chemically treat our lawns won’t prevent the shrinking of bee and songbird populations, but we try in the hope that we can make a difference.

We can be heartened that our efforts can indeed make a difference by recent news that after decades of protective regulations, the ozone layer is healing! And a lawsuit brought by youth on behalf of future generations to compel the U.S. government to enact policies to combat global warming (Juliana v. U.S.) is still working its way through the court system despite repeated efforts to get it dismissed.

It is this instinct to protect nature and defend against global warming that motivates our movement to save Breck Woods. We are blessed by an accident of geology and the benign neglect of educational institutions to have still standing among us a 7-acre remnant of woods. It has stood from before the time of settlement, encroached upon and diminished by surrounding streets and increasing density. It has always been accessible to neighbors, and for that we are profoundly grateful to Luther Seminary. Now on the market along with much of the campus, the 7-acre wood is at risk.

Our movement started back in June when a group of Lauderdale neighbors on Fulham Street (adjacent to Breck Woods) decided to advocate for the woods by entering a float in the SAP Fourth of July parade—to great crowd approval. We promoted our online petition (savebreckwoods.com) in which we respectfully requested that the seminary, along with cities of St. Paul, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, recognize the vital importance of the woods as a barrier to air and noise pollution and global warming, and therefore, move slowly and carefully in deciding its future. We now have 385 signers and are growing. Many have left comments about the significance of Breck Woods to them.

At a Sept. 19 open forum, the seminary announced for the first time that it was willing to sell the woods separately from the rest of the campus. The asking price was also made public for the first time—$2.85 million. In response, we formed “Friends of Breck Woods,” a nonprofit corporation, to negotiate with the seminary and/or potential developers. Please visit savebreckwoods.com to register your support, find inspiration from the comments of others and check for updates.

   Cynthia Ahlgren, 

   Lauderdale resident 

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