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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 Gold
Overall Score 67.88
Liaison Mary Easterling
Submission Date Sept. 14, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Pennsylvania State University
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Mary Easterling
Assoc Director, Analysis & Assessment
Sustainability Institute
"---" 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:

Millbrook Marsh is a 62-acre protected area owned by Penn State and operated by the Centre Region Recreation Authority. It is located on the edge of the University Park campus. The site consists of a 12-acre farmstead that includes a Nature Center plus an adjacent 50-acre wetland with marsh and fen habitats. This latter portion is held in a conservation easement between PSU and ClearWater Conservancy. The IBAT (Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool) database shows Millbrook Marsh Fen to be in IUCN management category V (Protected Landscapes/ Seascapes).


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:

Penn State's University Park Master Plan contains a map showing Environmentally Sensitive Areas, including several indicated as Natural Heritage Inventory areas. These areas were surveyed by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 2002, and results are reported in the "Centre County Natural Heritage Inventory" http://www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us/CNAI_PDFs/Centre%20County%20NHI%202002-WEB.pdf These four areas, that occur fully or partially on lands owned by Penn State, are all classified as Biological Diversity Areas (BDA), or sites that are recognized as supporting populations of state, national or globally significant species or natural communities, high quality examples of natural communities or ecosystems, or exceptional native diversity.

Other designated Environmentally Sensitive Areas are relevant to the campus's hydrology.


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

Environmentally sensitive areas designated in the Campus Master Plan include the following land use types:
Zone 1 wellhead protection areas, major stormwater infiltration areas, waterways, floodplains, and other natural habitat areas such as Millbrook Marsh, the Big Hollow corridor and Spring Creek Biodiversity Area. Also, surface areas that drain directly to wellheads; areas that drain to significant closed depressions; wastewater nutrient management areas; areas that surface drain to special protection streams (these areas are defined by PaDEP as High Quality Cold Water Fisheries, (HQ-CWF) and/or Exceptional Values (EV) streams); Natural Heritage Inventory areas; soils mapped as Opequon variations; and minor closed depressions.


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

See above description of Millbrook Marsh protected area.

Natural Heritage Inventory areas are mapped in the Campus Master Plan, which stipulates that "these areas be kept as undeveloped landscapes, free of building and parking facilities, and reserved for resource protection and for the enjoyment by the public".

The Arboretum Ecological Restoration Group organizes work sessions in which volunteers help to stop the spread of nonnative shrubs such as honeysuckle, privet, and multiflora rose in the understory of the Hartley Wood, an historic woodlot in the Arboretum. These efforts have now been extended into other areas of the Arboretum in Big Hollow, which is one of the Biological Diversity Areas indicated on the Campus Master Plan. The vision for the Arboretum also includes restoring native habitat and providing educational outreach on the area's land use history. See http://www.arboretum.psu.edu/conservation/index.html

In addition, Penn State has a variety of programs that protect and conserve wildlife habitat in and around the University Park campus. Specific practices and programs involve water resources management, wetland conservation, farm operations and forest management.

There are large tracts of undisturbed land along the fringes of the campus that attract a variety of wildlife. The University's stormwater program promotes the use of conservation design practices that preserve and use natural critical hydrologic areas to minimize the impact on the environment. It has identified nearly 500 acres of critical area as Water Resource Preservation areas. Preserving these natural land areas provides a habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Farm Operations has a variety of practices that protect wildlife habitat in and around croplands. This includes diversifying crops, leaving some crop in the fields for winter, wildlife food plots and protecting trees for raptor habitat.

The Stone Valley Recreation Area is 700-acres of varied ecosystems within the 7,000-acre University Experimental Forest. Also include is the 72-acre Lake Perez. The site is located 17 miles from University Park. http://www.athletics.psu.edu/stonevalley/sv_about.shtml

Within Stone Valley, Penn State operates the Shaver's Creek Environmental Center. The Center extends the University's Outreach mission of instruction, service and research. It offer environmental education and training programs that enable people to learn how to live and interact harmoniously ans sustainably with each other and the natural world.
http://www.outreach.psu.edu/shaverscreek/


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
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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.