By Alexa Ratcliffe
mustang daily staff writer
“Cal Poly Land: A Field Guide” offers its readers a unique combination: A textbook, field guide and coffee table book in one.
The book is a creation of the Cal Poly Land Project team and was constructed over the past two years and is finally ready to make its debut. The Cal Poly Land Project’s main goal is to focus on the “conservation, education and preservation” of the university’s land.
English professor Steven Marx came up with the idea for a field guide after developing a love for Cal Poly and its land.
“I’ve been here for 15 years and found myself wandering around Cal Poly’s land,” Marx said. “Over the years I became more and more curious about the geology, history, technology, flora and fauna.”
The field guide is priced at $29.95 and is available at the Cal Poly Downtown store as well as both Cal Poly bookstores. It can also be purchased on the El Corral Bookstore Web site.
The book will serve as a textbook for two Cal Poly classes, ENGL 380 (Eco-literature) and HUM 330 (Cal Poly Land), both of which are taught by Marx.
“A lot of the people who worked on the field guide were the same faculty members who developed the Humanities 330 course,” Marx said.
“Cal Poly Land: A Field Guide” is a collage of photo essays, trail-maps, history and archeology of Cal Poly and its land. It also contains pictures and descriptions of the most common flora and fauna seen on Cal Poly land.
The essays in the book include reflections from Cal Poly faculty and students that have been inspired by all of the various activities and sights at Cal Poly. The maps in the book not only feature all of the public hiking trails on Cal Poly land, but also have in-depth directions and photos of landmarks and historical sites that one may encounter on their hike.
“I have been hiking and running in Poly Canyon and really love it,” recreation administration senior Andrea Lacey said. “It seems like there are a lot more trails out there people just aren’t familiar with, but would like to know about.”
Lacey said she thinks a field guide will be popular among students who are not enrolled in the class which the text is required for. She plans on buying one for herself.
There is much more to Cal Poly’s land than most students know about, Marx said. The actual campus only makes up around one-third of all the university’s land, and another third is held in the university’s “western ranches,” which lie west of Cuesta College and El Chorro Regional Park. The last third is Swanton Pacific Ranch, which is on the coast near Santa Cruz.
“Cal Poly holds the second largest plot of land for a university in California, next to UC Berkeley,” Marx said. “But Berkeley also has a lot of land preserves, whereas Cal Poly uses all of their land for research and instruction.”
Researchers came across this information when they realized that the total combined area of Cal Poly’s three properties is about 10,000 acres.