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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 81.30
Liaison Sarah Munro
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Connecticut
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sarah Munro
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental Policy
"---" 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:

IUCN IV: Habitat Species Management Area

In December 2016, the University officially completed its conservation land permit condition with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the town of Mansfield that formalized an additional 101 acres of wetland and woodland as well as folding the existing 64 acres of the Hillside Environmental Education Park’s (HEEP) under one agreement. Ultimately, UConn now has 165 total acres of conservation land.

The HEEP includes a network of trails running from North Hillside Road to Hunting Lodge Road and features two wildlife observational platforms and an additional viewing platform overlooking HEEP from the back of C-Lot. HEEP is a great contribution to the Mansfield Open Space Network, which includes parks and conserved lands from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Town of Mansfield, and the University. Initially, the HEEP was the result of the Landfill Project, an environmental remediation project the University undertook from the 1990's to the 2000’s that culminated in the creation of the HEEP and the C-Lot parking lot, which capped the old landfill.

The HEEP provides numerous research and study opportunities in topics such as invasive species and wildlife management, habitat enhancement, wetlands mitigation, and vernal pool creation and management, to name a few. The University encourages student groups and faculty members who may be interested in the Hillside Environmental Education Park site and its remediation plan to use the site for these research and educational purposes.

As part of UConn’s Green Campus Academic Network, future projects for the HEEP include organizing and installing additional signage for the added 100 acres in an effort to educate the community about the various environmental and historic features that are present on the land. Another project includes constructing the proposed HEEP extension trails that will add another 1.75 miles of new trail to the HEEP trail network.

Further Information can be found here:
http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/development/heep.html

The University also manages more than 530 acres of continuous forest area on the northeast side of the main campus at Storrs. In addition to providing a large area of natural habitat and biodiversity, the UConn Forest provides research and educational benefit as it is utilized by University professors and students from a wide variety of disciplines. The Fenton forest tract also provides hiking and other recreational opportunities for the students and community.

More information on the UConn Forest can be found here: http://ecohusky.uconn.edu/development/parks.html
http://today.uconn.edu/2010/03/land-conservation-deal-protects-more-than-500-acres/

The University also borders the 135-acre Albert E. Moss Sanctuary. The sanctuary is an area of significant natural beauty and wetland biodiversity between South Eagleville Road and Birchwood Heights Road. It has also preserved a sense of nostalgia surrounding what the University has historically represented and looked like. Additionally, a grant in 2010 resulted in trail improvements to the sanctuary to allow for better accessibility in the area.

http://www.mansfieldct.gov/filestorage/1904/5357/moss_sanctuary.pdf
http://articles.courant.com/2011-06-03/community/hc-mansfield-moss-sanctuary-0604-20110603_1_wildlife-sanctuary-connecticut-forest-park-association


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:

UConn’s assessment and monitoring for biodiversity primarily occurs during the planning and implementation phases of new development plans. The University works proactively to identify species or areas of concern using the Natural Diversity Data Base (NDDB) from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). If UConn’s proposed development overlaps with any endangered species or sensitive areas, the university hires an outside expert to conduct an assessment of the site and the species on it, as well as the potential effects the proposed development.

The University will then make changes to their design plans to minimize species and habitat disruption, as well as replace essential habitat lost in the development process to ensure the survival of sensitive species and to protect local biodiversity.

UConn is required by both the state and Federal governments to monitor these species and habitats for five years post-development to ensure no disruption or species loss is observed and to make the necessary efforts to reverse these trends if they are observed.

The most recent year of assessment was 2016 as a result of the construction of the new entrance to the University.

Additionally, as part of UConn’s Green Campus Academic Network, there is an initiative in its beginning stages that would be responsible for organizing and performing a biotic inventory of the campus.


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

As part of the University’s environmental compliance and sustainability efforts for new development, the University has identified and assessed major forest, wetland, and vernal pool habitat areas. The UConn forest and HEEP areas at UConn provide large forest and wetland habitat areas. The vernal pool areas on campus represent significant environmentally sensitive areas due to their seasonality and the species present.

Vernal Pools:
The common plant species growing in these wetlands include red maple (Acer rubrum), pin oak (Quercus palustris), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), winterberry (Ilex sp.), highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscom), arrowwood (Vibernum recognitium), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), New York fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris), sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), false nettle (Boemeria cylindrical), violet (Viola sp.), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), and tussock sedge (Carex stricta).

Some of the observed amphibian species at the vernal pool sites include spotted salamanders, wood frogs, pickerel frogs, American toads, green frogs, and bull frogs. Eggs for these species were also found on the vernal pool sites.

Birds: Bird surveys have been conducted as part of construction projects. Some of the more commonly observed species are: Red-tailed Hawk, Wild Turkey, Mourning Dove, Barred Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Barn Swallow, European Starling, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Veery, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Scarlet Tanager, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, Indigo Bunting, American Goldfinch.

None of the species are of threatened or endangered designations.

On campus and in the surrounding forest areas there are also large populations of white-tailed deer, red fox, eastern cottontail, grey squirrels, woodchucks, muskrats, skunks, etc. Trail cameras have also identified bobcats and coyotes.


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

The University’s Extension program has a Forestry Committee that is in charge of maintaining over 1,000 acres of forested land, parts of which include rivers, vernal pools, and wetlands. Much of the management is focused on the removal of invasive species and the education of the public on forestry management practices.
http://www.ctforestry.uconn.edu/urban/index.htm

There is also an Arboretum Committee, which maintains numerous species of particular interest in and around campus. The Arboretum Committee has even created a walking campus tour of UConn's trees.
http://www.uconnarboretum.uconn.edu/
http://www.uconnarboretum.uconn.edu/content/TREE_GUIDE_CAMPUS_WALK.pdf

The University’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Department sponsors the Center for Conservation and Biodiversity which seeks to promote research and education on biodiversity and conservation at the local, national, and international levels. In addition to this the department also houses the biodiversity research collection of over 800,000 specimens.
http://hydrodictyon.eeb.uconn.edu/eebedia/index.php/Main_Page
http://biodiversity.uconn.edu/

The EEB Department also provides the Biota software for anyone interested in research on biodiversity.
http://viceroy.eeb.uconn.edu/Biota/


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.