Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 47.37
Liaison Holly Andersen
Submission Date Jan. 26, 2021

STARS v2.2

Bennington College
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00
"---" 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, 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:

Act 250 is Vermont’s land use and development law, enacted in 1970 at a time when Vermont was undergoing significant development pressure. The law provides a public, quasi-judicial process for reviewing and managing the environmental, social and fiscal consequences of major subdivisions and developments in Vermont. It assures that larger developments compliment Vermont’s unique landscape, economy and community needs. One of the strengths of Act 250 is the access it provides to neighbors and other interested parties to participate in the development review process. Applicants often work with neighbors, municipalities, state agencies and other interested groups to address concerns raised by a proposed development, resolving issues and mitigating impacts before a permit application is filed.

How does the law work?
Act 250 permit applications are reviewed by one of nine District Environmental Commissions, whose volunteer citizen members are appointed by the Governor. Staff support is provided by full-time District Environmental Coordinators, who are located in five district offices throughout the state. District Coordinators also issue Jurisdictional Opinions on whether an Act 250 permit is required.

Public Hearing for Act 250 Permit ApplicationSpecific program objectives of Act 250 include:

thoroughly reviewing each Act 250 permit application under the requirements of the statutory criteria;
performing permit reviews and determinations regarding Act 250 Jurisdiction as expeditiously as possible;
providing assistance to applicants and other parties in preparation for their participation in Act 250 proceedings;
assisting permittees in maintaining compliance with permit terms and conditions; and
enforcing the requirements of Act 250 permits and the statute.
The difference Act 250 has made for Vermont
Collage of black bear, waterfall, hayfield, church spireThe effects of Act 250 are most clear when one compares Vermont’s pristine landscape with most other states. Protecting Vermont’s environmental integrity and the strength of our communities benefits everyone, forming a strong basis for both our economy and our quality of life.

The Act 250 process balances environmental and community concerns; a tall order which at times can be complex. Developers, engineers and consultants best navigate the Act 250 process by planning their project, from the earliest stages, with the 10 criteria in mind.

As a result of Act 250 and the planning process, project designs, landscaping plans and color schemes fit the landscape. Act 250 has helped Vermont retain its unsurpassed scenic qualities while undergoing the substantial growth of the last 5 decades. Act 250 is also critical because it requires development to conform to municipal and regional plans and Vermont’s land use planning goals.

The Act 250 criteria have protected many important natural and cultural resources — water and air quality, wildlife habitat and agricultural soils (just to name a few) — that have long been valued by Vermonters and that are an important part of the state’s economy. No single law can protect all of Vermont’s unique attributes — but Act 250 plays a critical role in maintaining the quality of life that Vermonters enjoy.

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

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:

This is the Syllabus for the Fall 2011 version of the Bennington Biodiversity Project class; the Project itself resides on the Bennington College wiki. Refer to this page for course structure and expectations. You will be using the wiki to document your work, and instructions for its use are provided there.

Purpose: The class has two general purposes:
- to promote detailed and technical familiarity with the natural history and taxonomy of particular groups of organisms, and build facility with the tools of taxonomic identification, and
- to build, incrementally, documentation of the biological diversity of the Bennington College campus.
The course is offered frequently, if irregularly, and, each term, focuses on one or more selected groups of organisms.
The Fall 2011 version will focus on Kingdom Fungi. The fungi are ecologically critical in the function of all ecosystems, but, as symbiotes and parasites of plants, particularly so in terrestrial systems. They're also much less generally appreciated and documented than plants and animals. We may expand focus to include lichens (which are half fungus, but half algae, so ambiguous as to phylogenetic placement!).

Schedule: This term's schedule is complicated because no single regular class time can accomodate the full class. We will meet, as an entire class, on MONDAY and TUESDAY from 12:30-2:00. At least initially, we will use these periods for general discussion and instruction and, particularly, for some group excursions to various habitats on campus. SO, work out a way to get lunch quickly or early, and be on time. After the first few weeks, this schedule may relax a bit.
However, EACH of you should also expect to spend several additional hours per week collecting and in the lab. Normally, I will be available from 2:00-4:00 on both Monday and Tuesday, so I encourage you to plan on some lab time on one or both of those days so I can work with you. This should be possible for all but one or two of you.

Resources: There are no required textbooks or supplies for you to purchase. I'll make a variety of identification manuals available in the lab. However, you may wish to acquire one or more of your own. There are many field guides and manuals for fungi and mushrooms, and you can use any that you have available. NONE offer complete coverage. You'll likely to need to work with different ones at different times and still may not get identification beyond genus level. The two I suggested for purchase if you choose to acquire your own are:
- Alan Besette et al., Mushrooms of northeastern North America
- Barron, Mushrooms of Northeast North America: Midwest to New England
Both are available on Amazon and are relatively inexpensive. I have NOT asked the bookstore to stock them.
Further resources will be accessible through the wiki.
You should also provide yourself with a NOTEBOOK for the class, and it should be something you can use in the field (see below).
You might also want to acquire a decent hand-lens if you don't have one -- 10x at least -- e.g., the BAUSCH & LOMB Hastings Triplet (see amazon...)

Expectations and Evaluation: I will evaluate your work in this class on my observations of your work in lab and field and on two concrete products:
1) The Biodiversity Project Wiki: All taxonomic work will be documented on the wiki for the Bennington Biodiversity Project. Format and guidelines for using the wiki will be discussed in class and on the wiki itself.
2) Your notebook: It is important to get in the habit of documenting things on site as well as tracking your identification work in lab. Use your notebook systematically to record collection information -- notes on location and habitat, sketches, descriptions of position and density, etc., AND to record further observations of specimens in lab and to keep track of reserouces used in identification. It will be handed in at end of class.

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

Natural areas on campus are studied and monitored by biology classes each term.

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

There have been various methods over the years with faculty changing periodically.

A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

We found that there are no listed endangered species on campus.

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

There are extensive conservation lands in North Bennington that are maintained by the Fund for North Bennington, and these are used each term by biology classes and students.

Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The Multi-Species Lab is an art and research class focused on creative practices and strategies that decenter the human being in a world of ecological uncertainty and recalibration. Through collaborative and creative activities and assignments, we will research and question ideas of how to understand life—including human life—as a plural and ecologically enmeshed phenomenon. The Lab will be structured as a series of activities and studies that are indebted to scholars, artists, practitioners, and researchers engaged in developing “arts of living on a damaged planet.” Drawing our conceptual frameworks and key ideas from recent work in ecotheory, new materialism, posthumanism, and multi-species ethnography, we will dedicate ourselves to creating actions, rituals, habits, ceremonies, practices, and art works—in many mediums—that work to disrupt unthinking anthropocentrism and to replace it with ecospheric consciousness.

The lab is an experimentally-oriented contribution to the rapidly emerging field of Environmental Humanities, with intellectual foundations drawn from such fields as animal studies, environmental philosophy, science studies, and ecocriticism. The lab also recognizes the veritable explosion of artistic engagement whereby artists, art collectives, curators and other practitioners are addressing the social and emotional complexities of our physically changing world.

In this class, students will learn of practitioners across disciplines who address this “ecospheric reality.”
You will spend the 7 weeks in groups: plantscapes, waterways, foodlands, and petworlds, and through this lens, you will immerse yourselves in a progression of three artistic assignments: being (umwelt), addressing (polemic), and engaging (public participation). Your group will also be responsible to lead one class session with readings and discussion.

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.