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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 69.02
Liaison Sara McKinstry
Submission Date March 30, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, San Diego
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Chuck Morgan
Asst Dir/Cust/Lndscpe
Facilities Management, Resource Management & Planning
"---" 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?:

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

Scripps Coastal Reserve, established in 1965, occupies nearly one thousand acres in La Jolla, California ranging across a complex landscape including mesa top, coastal canyon and bluff, sandy beach, rocky intertidal, submerged coastal plain and deep submarine canyon. More info here: http://nrs.ucsd.edu/scripps.html

The San-Diego Scripps State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve (SMR) are marine protected areas that extend offshore from La Jolla in San Diego County on California’s south coast. They protect most of the unique Scripps Canyon branch of La Jolla's submarine canyon system and the southern-most natural California mussel bed. The areas encompass four distinct habitat zones; rocky reef, kelp forest, sandy flat, and deepwater canyon.

More info here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/MPAs

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?:

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

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:

As part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for UC San Diego's 2018 Long Range Development Plan Update, the university worked with consultants to evaluate the potential for biological impacts associated with implementation of the proposed 2018 LRDP. The term “biological resources” refers to both botanical and wildlife communities on UC San Diego. For the purposes of this document, “special-status” species include those species that have been recognized by either federal or state resource management agencies or conservation organizations as having special management needs due to limited distribution, limited numbers, or significant population declines associated with natural or manmade causes. Special-status species include those designated as endangered, threatened, rare, protected, sensitive, or species of special concern according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Native Plant Society (CNPS), or applicable regional plans, policies, or regulations.

Helix Environmental Planning prepared a Biological Resources Technical Report. Surveys were conducted for vegetation mapping, general wildlife, rare plants, the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), and the federally and state endangered least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus). Prior to conducting biological field surveys, HELIX performed a review of aerial imagery and previous vegetation and sensitive resources mapping for UC San Diego conducted as part of the 2004 LRDP (HELIX 2004), as well as vegetation mapping and associated reports prepared for specific UC San Diego projects over the past several years. In addition, HELIX conducted a search of sensitive species databases for information regarding sensitive species known to occur within five miles of UC San Diego, including the USFWS species records (USFWS 2017), CDFW California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB; CDFW 2017a), and CNPS Electronic Inventory (CNPS 2017). General biological surveys of UC San Diego were conducted by HELIX in the spring, summer, and fall of 2016. Vegetation communities were mapped on a 1 inch = 200 feet scale aerial of UC San Diego. The campus was surveyed on foot and with the aid of binoculars. Plant and animal species observed or otherwise detected during the surveys were recorded and a full list of the species detected prepared. Animal identifications were made in the field by direct, visual observation or indirectly by detection of calls, burrows, tracks, or scat. Plant identifications were made in the field or in the lab through comparison with voucher specimens or photographs. The locations of special-status plant and animal species incidentally observed or otherwise detected were mapped. Coastal California gnatcatcher protocol surveys were conducted in 2016 following survey guidelines for the species prepared by the USFWS (1997). Least Bell's vireo surveys were conducted during the breeding season in April through July 2017 following the USFWS 2001 survey protocol (HELIX 2017). A total of 205 plant species were observed on UC San Diego during the 2016 biological surveys, of which 117 (57%) were native special and 88 (43%) were non-native species.

Additional detail can be found at: http://physicalplanning.ucsd.edu/environmental/nrm.html

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

UC San Diego uses the definitions of native, exotic and drought tolerant provided by the California Coastal Commission (http://cal-ipc.org/paf/). We have identified the following:

Nuttall's scrub oak
San Diego barrel cactus
Torrey pine
Wart-stemmed ceanothus
Short-leaved dudleya
San Diego adolphia

American Peregrine falcon
Coastal California gnatcatcher
Yellow-breasted chat
Yellow warbler
Two-striped gartersnake
San Diego black-tailed jackrabbit
Red-tailed hawk
Monarch butterflies

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

In 2010, UC San Diego implemented an Ecological Reserve Habitat Management Plan (HMP), which specifies long-term management and maintenance tasks such as habitat assessment surveys, exotic species removal, erosion control, and sensitive species surveys. The Open Space Management Program is not mitigation for UC San Diego-wide impacts, but is a framework for maintaining and enhancing the biological values of the UC San Diego open space areas. Four types of open spaces with distinct qualities of vegetation, topography, and geography occur on UC San Diego: canyons, steep slopes, native vegetation, and eucalyptus groves. This integrated system of open space areas is collectively referred to in the proposed 2018 LRDP as the Open Space Preserve. Formerly identified as the “UCSD Park” in the 2004 LRDP, the Open Space Preserve also denotes open spaces subject to special constraints on development. The four open space types on the UC San Diego campus consist of the Ecological Reserve, Restoration Lands, Urban Forest, and Historic Grove based on their resources and constraints to development. Because of the sensitivity of the biological resources present within the Open Space Preserve, the HMP was prepared to address the management of the resources in the Ecological Reserve. The HMP takes the Open Space Management Program one step farther by providing specific direction for the preservation and long-term management of the Ecological Reserve and expands upon the applicable management guidelines that were identified in the 2004 LRDP EIR. Implementation of the specific recommendations in the HMP would ensure that the habitat functions and values of the Ecological Reserve are maintained and protected over the long term. It should be noted that UC San Diego does not record conservation easements over mitigation areas on UC San Diego lands. However, UC San Diego is committed to implementing the Open Space Management Program and the HMP to protect the biological functions and values of the preserved lands within its jurisdiction in perpetuity.

Habitat Management Plan
A Habitat Management Plan was prepared for the management of the approximately 120-acre Ecological Reserve pursuant to the Open Space Management Program contained within the 2004 LRDP EIR. This plan takes the Open Space Management Program a step farther by providing specific direction for the preservation and long-term management of the Ecological Reserve and expands upon the applicable management guidelines identified in the LRDP. Given that UC San Diego does not record conservation easements over mitigation areas on campus lands, implementation of specific recommendations in the Habitat Management Plan ensures that the habitat functions and values of the Ecological Reserve are maintained and protected over the long term.

The following is an example of some but not all of the steps UC San Diego is taking:

Based on UC San Diego-wide biological inventories undertaken in 1989, 2001, and 2016, there was no substantial change in species composition on UC San Diego. While there is a low potential to find additional sensitive species on future development sites, it is recommended that additional surveys be undertaken at five-year intervals to document that sensitive species with potential to occur have not moved int one of these areas where the habitat is appropriate and to avoid potential significant impacts.

Relocation of San Diego barrel cactus from development areas to preserved areas.

Avoidance and minimization during project design.

Compensatory mitigation for impacted upland and wetland communities.

Measures to reduce indirect construction impacts related to water quality, fugitive dust, and errant impacts.

Measures to reduce indirect impacts following construction related to fire risk, water quality and runoff, invasive species, increased human activity, lights, etc.

Surveys for coastal California gnatcatcher and least Bell’s vireo, construction noise attenuation, and agency consultation; and avian nest surveys and avoidance.

Wetland delineation. Mitigation required for wetland impacts must incorporate a minimum 1:1 creation component to ensure no net-loss of these communities pursuant to the regulatory requirements, except in circumstances where 1:1 creation is not required by the wetland permitting authorities and the no net loss of functions and values directive is met through other types of approved mitigation. Wetland mitigation shall occur on- or off-UC San Diego through creation, restoration, enhancement, and/or preservation, or combination thereof, or through purchase of credits at an approved wetland mitigation bank.

The Natural Reserve System has installed signs, path edge markers, and post and cable exclusionary fencing to keep visitors away from sensitive bluff and canyon habitat. The Reserve Manager and Steward patrol as possible. An arrangement with the neighboring La Jolla Farms Security Association allows the upland area to be closed at night.

Coastal Protection
The La Jolla Community Plan identifies many goals, policies, and recommendations for development within the Coastal Zone. The Local Coastal Program was adopted by the San Diego City Council in 1982 and certified by the California Coastal Commission in 1983. The policies and recommendations of the 1985 La Jolla – La Jolla Shores Local Coastal Program have been incorporated into the 2014 La Jolla Community Plan, along with the La Jolla Shores Precise Plan (1972), and the Fay Avenue Plan (1980) (City of San Diego 2014). The following general community goal is addressed in the 2014 La Jolla Community Plan and Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan: Conserve and enhance the natural amenities of the community such as its views from identified public vantage points, open space, hillsides, canyons, ocean, beaches, bluffs, wildlife, and natural vegetation and achieve a desirable relationship between the natural and developed components of the community.

The following Natural Resources and Open Space System goal is identified in the 2014 La Jolla Community Plan and Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan and would pertain to areas adjacent to SIO, including the views from La Jolla Shores Drive: Maintain the public views to and from the natural amenities of La Jolla in order to achieve a beneficial relationship between the natural or unimproved and developed areas of the community.

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

Other contact: Catherine Presmyk, Campus Planning



In 2009, UC San Diego finished an analysis of the ecosystem services and environmental benefits of the UC San Diego Campus Forest. We are currently updating this information utilizing our tree inventory system and iTree to provide current info of the ecological benefits our urban forest provide to our campus.http://rmp-wapps.ucsd.edu/sustainability/FM/PDFs/Campus_Forest_Environmental_Benefits_Report_1-09.pdf

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.