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

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.20
Liaison Suzanne Hansen
Submission Date May 31, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Macalester College
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Jerald Dosch
Director
Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance?:
Yes

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

Macalester College’s Ordway Field Station lies within the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, is part of the Mississippi River Flyway (a flyway of global significance for migratory bird species used by approximately 40% of North America’s migratory waterfowl and 60% of all North American bird species each year; McGuiness 2000), and is part of the Pine Bend Bluffs region of Dakota County, MN in which approximately on 2.5 percent of all natural communities remain intact.
The majority of the field station (approximately 150 acres) is permanently protected by a conservation easement.


Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on institution-owned or –managed land?:
Yes

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:
Yes

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

For decades the Ordway Field Station has been the site of ecological, archaeological,
hydrological, and geological research conducted by scientists from Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, the National Park Service, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other institutions and agencies.
The field station was the site of the 2011 Minnesota BioBlitz in which the site was thoroughly sampled for all species and habitat types.
Natural resource management plans were developed for the site in 2001 and 2012.
In 1992 the site was surveyed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as part of its Minnesota County Biological Survey (MCBS) program inventory of Dakota County.
The National Park Service conducts ongoing research on river otters and bald eagles living within the field station’s boundaries.
The National Park Service has established permanent vegetation monitoring plots within the field station’s boundaries.


A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

Rare Species
The 2011 Minnesota BioBlitz found 11 species of plants at Ordway that were new Dakota County records. The 1992 Minnesota County Biological Survey (MCBS; conducted by the MN Department of Natural Resources) recorded four plant species at Ordway that had significant MN state status (endangered, threatened, or special concern species). Turbercled rein-orchid and tall nut-rush are endangered species, kitten-tail is threatened, and lily-leaf twayblade is rare, but has no legal status. Tubercled rein-orchid is generally found in moist grassy meadows on calcareous or circumneutral substrate (Coffin and Pfannmuller 1988). At Ordway it was found by the MCBS in 1993 in a small wet meadow.
Tall nut-rush is a conspicuous sedge, distinctive for its smooth, white, enamel-like achenes that have a three-angled, minutely pebbled hypogynium (Coffin and Pfannmuller 1988). In Minnesota it is at the northern periphery of its range and is found in wet sandy swales of prairies, savannas or dunes. At Ordway, it was found in the same area as the rein-orchid.
Kitten-tail is a strict midwestern endemic. It has never been common in the state because its preferred habitat - gravelly soil in dry prairie, savanna and open woods on bluffs of the St. Croix, Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers - is uncommon. Kitten-tail is a perennial herb with a basal rosette of hairy, oval to heart-shaped leaves (Natureserve 2001). It produces one or more hairy, unbranched stems, 6 to12 inches in height, with a few small, nearly sessile leaves and a dense cylindrical spike of small yellow flowers. Plants usually bloom in May, with fruits dehisced by the end of June. It occurs in small, scattered patches with widely variable numbers of plants per patch. The 1992 MCBS recorded this species on a ridgeline opening in the south part of the oak woodland at Ordway.
Lily-leaved twayblade was the most abundant of the rare species. This orchid is typically found in mature mesic to moist oak or deciduous forests. It can, however, colonize recently disturbed sites and may be found in thickets of young saplings. At Ordway, numerous patches have been located in the woods over the years, ranging from 7 individuals to over two thousand (Johnson 1994). The largest patches emerged after a burn, to which the species seems to respond vigorously (Johnson 1994).
The field station is located within the Mississippi River Flyway, a flyway of global significance for migratory bird species. Every year, millions of birds, representing over three hundred species, migrate through the corridor or remain as year-round residents (Korschgen, Krisch and Kenow 1998). This represents 60 percent of all North American species (McGuiness 2000).
The proximity of Ordway to the River attests to its importance for both migratory and resident species. Bald eagles annually nesting on the property near the river, and the diversity of habitats is home to numerous other species.
The wetlands and ponds at Ordway provide important habitat for amphibians. Surveys completed in 1986 and 2001 (Gerholdt pers. comm.) identified six species of frogs and toads at the property). Four snake species and three turtle species were found. The 2011 MN BioBlitz found five species of amphibians, five species of reptiles and 30 species of fish at Ordway.
Black ash seepage swamps and seepage meadows are increasingly rare. The nearly three acres of black ash seepage swamp identified at the Ordway Field Station comprise over 50 percent of the total recorded by the MN Department of Natural Resources for Dakota County (DNR-CBS Seepage meadows are quite rare in the region and not well documented (Wovcha et al. 1995); only 20 acres were identified in Dakota County (DNR-CBS 1997) and the two seepage meadows identified at Ordway totaled less than one acre.


A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

The Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area (Ordway Field Station) is located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, 17 miles from campus. The nearly 300 acre site was established in 1967 by Macalester College with the help of a major a gift from Katharine Ordway. The many natural habitats found at Ordway Field Station include tall grass prairie, oak savanna and woodland, riparian forests, seasonal and permanent ponds and springs, and a backwater lake, adjacent to the Mississippi River.
These lands have been set aside by the College for biological and environmental education and the protection and management of natural environments.
The College has recently been awarded a $25,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund the development of a strategic plan for the field station.
In 2012 the College sold a conservation easement on the majority of the lab. In partnership with Dakota County, the city of Inver Grove Heights and the Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR), Macalester College has permanently protected 150 acres of the Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area (Ordway Field Station) along the Mississippi River in Inver Grove Heights. The project included acquisition of a conservation easement and enhanced public access by Dakota County, vacation of unnecessary streets by the city and increased funding for the Ordway Field Station.
The 2012 perpetual conservation easement agreement included a detailed and updated natural resource management plan that will guide the protection of species, habitats and environmentally sensitive areas on site.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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.