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Miami University Natural Areas is only able to meet the goals of providing excellent opportunities for education, research, and stress-relieving activities such as hiking and observation of nature if actions are taken regularly to manage these lands. Though most of these lands are not being actively cultivated, the current state of the land and the organisms that occupy it are influenced by a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Past management activities that took place within the boundaries of the Natural Areas.
  • Past and current effects of activities that take place outside of but near the Natural Areas.
  • Widespread natural occurrences including weather, insects and disease, and invasion by other species.

Some of these can threaten the features that we are trying to protect.

Even the prescribed uses of these areas, (education, research, recreation, and observation) and the trails and other facilities developed to accommodate these uses can have an impact on the ecosystems that occupy these lands. The Natural Areas staff, the Miami University Natural Areas Committee, and their partners are tasked with managing the lands to protect the resources and to provide for these uses in the future.

Within the next few years, the Miami University Natural Areas Committee will develop a management plan that will develop overall guidance for investment and maintenance actions, balancing the need for facilities to provide access for recreation, the needs of various species of wildlife, and the opportunities for research. As this is done, there will be opportunities for interested persons to provide input into this process, to help assure a quality outcome.


Miami University Natural Areas (MUNA) encompass about 1,000 acres, forming a treasured green belt around much of the Oxford campus. The Natural Areas were designated by President Paul Pearson in 1992 “to be preserved and protected for approved uses in education, research, recreation, and observation…in perpetuity.” He was “confident 100 years from now [it] will be regarded as one of the most important events to occur in Oxford’s history.” Indeed, the area is used in recruitment, research, and recreation. However, its ecological integrity, biological diversity, and beauty have been degraded and are further threatened by invasive species and overabundant white-tailed deer. While a comprehensive program to improve MUNA’s ecosystem health is planned, the overabundance of deer is an acute and increasing threat to tree and wildflower regeneration and requires a more rapid response.

Invasive Species

Many hikers, birdwatchers, and others using the Miami University Natural Areas for recreation recognize and are concerned by the ever increasing presence of non-native, invasive plant species such as garlic mustard, Amur honeysuckle, lesser celandine, and the highly toxic poison hemlock.

The Natural Areas staff, sometimes assisted by volunteers, have been taking some actions to control these, including hand pulling of individual garlic mustard, honeysuckle and poison hemlock plants, cutting and treating stumps of honeysuckle in targeted areas, as well as limited spraying of some plant populations. We recognize that we will need to increase these actions in the future, as the non-native plant populations are increasing at a much faster rate than our control actions are affecting them. As deer management becomes effective so that native species will be able to repopulate areas cleared of invasives, these control actions will become more important.


The main goals of trail management within the Natural Areas is to provide access to various parts of the Natural Areas for hiking, nature observation and research, while still protecting the natural characteristics and the natural resources of the areas.

Changing weather patterns, historic rain and flood events, high winds, devastation by the emerald ash borer, and other factors have resulted in greater needs than there are resources available to address them. While priority is placed on keeping the trails logged out and cleared for use, the staff is also making facility repairs, replacing bridges, and addressing some of the drainage needs. Keep in mind that these trails are primarily made with native surfaces, and therefore are muddy for several days following a large rain event. If you choose to hike during muddy conditions, please wear appropriate footwear so you can continue to use the trails, and not trample the surrounding vegetation by going around the mud. If you see large downfall or safety issues needing to be addressed immediately, please contact us at