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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 75.27
Liaison Katie Lavin
Submission Date Jan. 28, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Sterling College (VT)
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Farley Brown
Faculty in Ecology
Ecology
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Bird-friendly sugarbush recognition

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

The Virginia Russell Maple Sugarbush, abutting Sterling College’s campus and managed by its students and faculty, is home to over 200 maple taps and numerous species of birds. Both trees and birds will be able to coexist and thrive, thanks to the Bird-Friendly Maple Project, which just recognized the sugarbush as supporting both bird habitats and sugaring activity.

The Bird-Friendly Maple Project is a partnership among Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, and the Vermont Maple Sugar Maker’s Association. It seeks to promote bird conservation and maple syrup production.

More than 30 species of birds are known to use maple sugarbushes as nesting habitats, including the wood thrush, the scarlet tanager, and the black-throated blue warbler. Bird-friendly sugarbushes have features that allow birds to successfully raise the next generation, including a diversity of tree species, layers of vegetation, and a plan for invasive plant control.

Sterling College, in partnership with the Russell family, is one of only six maple producers recognized for managing its sugarbush in bird-friendly ways. It is the first college to be so recognized.

“At Sterling College, we are constantly assessing how we steward the land, as well as how the land fits into the broader landscape,” said Farley Brown, Faculty in Ecology. “That includes working with the Russell family to ensure the sugarbush is managed in a way that integrates both our syrup production and bird conservation. ”

She continued, “This is a great example of the connectivity between land management and an ecosystem management approach; a healthy sugarbush is also breeding habitat for Neotropical birds. The forests of Vermont are a globally important nesting habitat for many songbirds. As Vermont’s environmental stewardship college, we are so excited to demonstrate that syrup production and songbird habitats aren’t mutually exclusive.”

“At a time when the maple sugaring industry is rapidly expanding, Audubon Vermont is excited that Sterling College and the Russell family are participating in the Bird-Friendly Maple Project,” said SteveHagenbuch, conservation biologist with Audubon Vermont. “Not only is Sterling the first educational institution to get involved with the project, it is also critical to the long-term health and sustainability of the forest and all its wild inhabitants to think about managing the sugarbush as a natural ecosystem rather than a row crop.”

“By engaging Sterling students in this process, we are educating tomorrow’s maple producers about the importance of diverse structure and composition in the sugarbush,” he continued. “It’s a win-win-win solution for the students, the forest—including birds and other wildlife—and Vermont’s maple industry.”

For a full overview of the Bird-Friendly Maple Project, visit http://vt.audubon.org/bird-friendly-maple-project.


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

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 5):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research ---
Campus Engagement ---
Public Engagement ---
Air & Climate ---
Buildings ---
Dining Services ---
Energy ---
Grounds Yes
Purchasing ---
Transportation ---
Waste ---
Water ---
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---

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

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.