Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 73.23
Liaison Heather Albert-Knopp
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2022

STARS v2.2

College of the Atlantic
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 2.00 Andrea Russell
Sustainability Coordinator and Community Energy Center Program Manager
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"---" 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?:
Yes

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

In addition to many acres of ocean frontage on our main campus (which are protected by the state and local shoreland zoning regulations, as well as vegetative buffers) College of the Atlantic owns 4 properties (310+ acres in total) that fit this description in their entirety:
1. Beech Hill Farm is a 73-acre property in the town of Mount Desert comprising forest and farmland on a ridge of deep glacial till soils. Maine Coast Heritage Trust holds a conservation easement on the property, “to provide a significant public benefit by protecting and preserving the highly scenic and open views of and across the protected property enjoyed by the public from the Beech Hill Road, and to prevent conversion of open lands on prime agricultural soils to development or other land uses that would limit their productivity and availability for agricultural uses in the future.”
2. The Peggy Rockefeller Farms comprise 125 acres that include part of the largest remaining contiguous area of pasture on Mount Desert Island. The property, which is protected under a conservation easement held by Acadia National Park, includes primer agricultural soils suitable for cropping, livestock, orchards, and other uses. Two-thirds of the property is covered with second-growth forest or wetland. The property is in the Northeast Creek watershed, which is monitored closely by the US Geological Survey. The land also shares a boundary with a property owned and protected by the Audubon Society. Both Beech Hill farm and the Peggy Rockefeller Farms are in close proximity to Acadia National Park land.
3. The Cox Protectorate is a 100-acre, forested parcel that was donated to the college to be used exclusively for field research and primitive recreation. There is no formal conservation easement on the Protectorate property at this time, but students and classes have begun inventorying, monitoring, and developing management plans for the property.
4. The college also owns 12 acres on Great Duck Island, a 220-acre island that is about 90 minutes south of our main campus by boat, and is home to our Alice Eno Field Research Station. The majority of the island is owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The College and TNC manage the island collaboratively for purposes of conservation and research.


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?:
No

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:
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Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:
Yes

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

Great Duck Island supports some of the largest known breeding populations of Leach’s storm petrels and black guillemots in the continental United States. These, along with resident herring and black-backed gulls, are subjects of ongoing research by teams of students from the college’s Island Research Center under the supervision of faculty member John Anderson. Of major concern is the island’s large population of varying hare, a species that was introduced in the mid-20th century, and has had an enormous impact on the island’s flora.

The Peggy Rockefeller Farms include important bobolink and songbird habitat, as well as wetlands that drain into the ecologically sensitive Northeast Creek.


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

The easement holders of Beech Hill Farm and Peggy Rockefeller Farms (Maine Coast Heritage Trust and Acadia National Park, respectively) conduct annual assessments and monitoring of both properties.

Biodiversity inventories of the Cox Protectorate have been conducted by several student researchers and students in wildlife ecology classes. As of March 2015 the vegetational biodiversity inventory is believed to be comprehensive for trees, good for shrubs, adequate for herbaceous flowering plants, good for ferns and fern allies, and incomplete for bryophytes, liverworts, and lichens. We know of no surveys that have looked at the macrofungi or freshwater algae of the Protectorate; but these have been identified as the next priority for biodiversity inventories on the property.
The vegetation survey was conducted initially with 25 10x10 meter plots set along transects of the property. The natural history survey was conducted through use of game cameras and direct observation on the property. Student researchers have also examined and compiled Maine critical areas program listings, Maine "Beginning with Habitat" GIS data layers, and Acadia National Park GIS data layers. Assessment and inventorying of this property is ongoing, as the property is still relatively new to the college.

Great Duck Island is home to the Alice Eno Field Research Station where COA student researchers spend each summer inventorying and monitoring seabird populations and habitat. Additional research projects have focused on other flora and fauna on the island. A summary of several recent student research projects can be found on our website: http://coa.edu/islands/research-projects/


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

Beech Hill Farm: 73 acres
Peggy Rockefeller Farms: 125 acres
Cox Protectorate: 100 acres
12 acres on Great Duck Island (adjacent to 200+ acres owned by the Nature Conservancy)
No areas excluded


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

All of COA's properties, and particularly Beech Hill and Peggy Rockefeller farms, are managed using strictly organic methods to protect watersheds and biodiversity. At the Peggy Rockefeller Farms, we are re-establishing a riparian buffer along wetlands and creeks. Animals are kept away from riparian areas and wetlands, and we are cultivating vegetables and fruit in the high and dry soils, not the low and wet. We are also observing and marking pasture areas with heavy bobolink activity and avoiding grazing/haying/mowing of those areas until August. On both farms we also use cover cropping to prevent soil erosion from wind and rain.


Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
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Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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"The Natural History of the Protectorate" -- Hale Morrell, 2012

A Species List for the Cox Protectorate, updated March 2015

Great Duck Island: http://coa.edu/islands/great-duck-island/

Island Research Center Projects: http://coa.edu/islands/research-projects/

Beech Hill Farm: http://coa.edu/farms/beech-hill-farm/

Peggy Rockefeller Farms: http://coa.edu/farms/peggy-rockefeller-farms/

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.