Hannah Mellor, above, made a proposal to Stony Brook faculty and administration for a nature trail uniting the various pre-existing trails on campus. Mellor’s proposal encompasses a total of five miles of terrain. ARIEL RAHIMZADA / THE STATESMAN

One Stony Brook University student’s senior project is growing into a cause that hundreds of students support. Hannah Mellor, an environmental design, policy and planning major, made a proposal to Stony Brook faculty and administration for a nature trail uniting the various pre-existing trails on campus.

Mellor envisioned the trail for her senior Sustainability Studies project in fall 2014. She has since attracted a team of dedicated students to assist her in accomplishing her goal.

Mellor saw the potential of several pre-existing trails sprawled throughout campus. She mapped out 2.5 miles of trail terrain, much of which are tough to navigate and explore. Mellor proposed connecting all the pre-existing trails, making a total of five miles of terrain.

Mellor presented a 34-page proposal for her senior project. She then brought the idea of a nature trail up to various faculty organizations and department heads like Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Matthew Whelan.


“I was impressed at her enthusiasm for the process,” Whelan said. “I was impressed by the work she had done. I am always impressed when students take action. I expressed through my professional responsibilities, some concerns about safety and security, cost of maintenance  and ADA [American Disabilities Act] access.”

Mellor was not discouraged.

“We brought it up to the school,” Mellor said, “and then we brought it up to the students and it keeps growing and growing.”

Students came pouring in with enthusiasm for the project. She collected 500 petition signatures in support of the trail in just one week and another 500 likes on the “SBU Nature Trail” Facebook page.


“I completely understand where the school is coming from, and I agree with them, but it’s still people want to see happen,” Mellor said.

Not only will this trail impact the students, but it will also be available to the community and residents of Stony Brook.

“It will be a fantastic addition to the passive recreation activities that we enjoy in Stony Brook,” Shawn Nuzzo, President of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, said. “For years the university and local community have been struggling with the literal and figurative disconnect between the campus and its host community. Projects like this serve to link the campus and surrounding community and I look forward to walking the trail myself.”

According to Mellor, the trail will be a enjoyable outlet for joggers, dog walkers, and anyone who wants to use it.

“I love the idea,” Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn said, “you just have to make sure the community is on board, and that the proposed portion running up against homes is enough distance away [from residential homes].”


Last weekend Mellor and the team held an informal trail tour/construction. Mellor marked the trail on Saturday, and Sunday was the first day of actually clearing up the first mile. On Sunday they met at noon in the Mendelsohn parking lot and from there, they walked to the trailhead together with anyone who wished to join.

“I am trying to get the word out there,” Mellor said, “to get as many students as possible to support, as many faculty members and as many outside organizations.”

Mellor is awaiting administration approval to trail blaze more terrain this upcoming Sunday, time and location to be determined.

There is also an app available on that maps out the trail and tells users where they are located on the trail to prevent people from getting lost.

Correction: May 7, 2015
An earlier version of this story reported that Hannah Mellor presented a 34-page proposal to faculty organizations and department heads, including Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Matthew Whelan. Mellor did present the 34-page proposal for her senior project, but she did not show the 34-page proposal to Whelan and the other department heads and faculty organizations.


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