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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.62
Liaison Michael Kensler
Submission Date Jan. 11, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Auburn University
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Eve Brantley
Assistant Professor, Extension Specialist
Agronomy & Soils
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Parkerson Mill Creek Natural Channel Design Restoration Project: Enhancing stream quality, education and research opportunities, Athletics facilities, and interdepartmental collaboration.
+ Date Revised: Feb. 5, 2016

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Parkerson Mill Creek (PMC) is a heavily degraded urban stream on the campus of Auburn University that has been identified as a priority for improvement and restoration within the campus landscape. PMC suffers from flashy stormwater flows that contribute to streambank erosion; nonpoint source pollution including sediment, litter and bacteria; invasive species; and benign neglect. Many students and visitors are unaware that there is a stream on campus as its headwaters have been buried with past developments. A Parkerson Mill Creek Restoration Project was established in 2010 with a goal to restore stream conditions to make the creek a campus amenity and create learning opportunities for students and researchers.

In 2014, an opportunity arose to implement a first, comprehensive, state-of-the-art restoration project on a 300 linear foot segment of Parkerson Mill Creek. This project was a unique and collaborative partnership among Auburn Athletics, Facilities Management, Alabama Cooperative Extension, several academic units, and the Office of Sustainability. The project brought multiple benefits that met a variety of campus priorities: athletics, aesthetics, learning opportunities for students, research opportunities for students and faculty, and, importantly for the creek itself, ecology.

A state-of-the-art Wellness Kitchen that serves Auburn Athletics and the rest of the campus community was built next to a severely degraded stream segment and a heavily traveled and visible campus corridor. Athletics was interested in creating a more hospitable sense of place, and representatives from Facilities Management, academic units, and the Office of Sustainability were looking for an opportunity to create a demonstration project of what is possible for the entire creek and draw attention to this important campus feature.

Faculty with expertise in cutting edge natural channel design stream restoration approaches worked with an interdisciplinary group of faculty, administration, athletics, and campus stakeholders as well as environmental engineering firm Goodwyn Mills & Cawood, Inc. to design and implement a natural channel restoration project that included restoration of the floodplain, use of in-stream structures to manage erosive high stormwater flows, and a palette of native vegetation to enhance aesthetics and demonstrate the interplay and connectivity between stream, floodplain, and vegetation.

The project was financed and enhanced with significant investments from AU Facilities, Auburn Athletics, and educational materials funded through a Section 319 grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and EPA Region 4.

Through this project Auburn University, as the state’s land grant institution, demonstrated stewardship in natural resource management based on cutting edge science. This restored stream segment is now used for education, research, and citizen engagement. Professors incorporate the stream project in field tours, research labs, and instruction. Examples of academic units using the stream for instruction and research include Sustainability, Biosystems Engineering, Landscape Architecture, and Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences.

Outreach programs such as the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the recently funded Auburn University Stream Team led by the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences use the PMC natural channel design project to educate citizens, students, and government officials in other communities.

A brand-new and comprehensive Campus Landscape Master Plan emphasizes sustainability and the restoration of Parkerson Mill Creek. This project is a tangible model for what is possible for PMC as an appealing amenity and gathering place throughout campus. The Planning Department and the Office of Sustainability can now point to this stream segment, making it easy for campus stakeholders to imagine what is possible for the creek and Auburn’s campus, thereby building support for further restoration projects.

+ Date Revised: Feb. 5, 2016

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

Education - Over 350 students have visited the stream as part of formal course work

Outreach - At least 150 students, teachers, and regular citizens have learned about the stream through outreach programs

Research - Student led research noted a decrease in streambank instability from the Bank Erosion Hazard Index assessment tool applied pre-enhancement and post-enhancement.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research Yes
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate ---
Buildings ---
Dining Services ---
Energy ---
Grounds ---
Purchasing ---
Transportation ---
Waste ---
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
---

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:
---

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.