Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 88.13
Liaison Tonie Miyamoto
Submission Date Nov. 7, 2022

STARS v2.2

Colorado State University
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Carol Dollard
Energy Engineer
Facilities Management
"---" 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:

CSU has multiple campuses near legally protected areas and sites of biodiversity or conservation importance.

CSU Mountain Campus is a 1,600 acre campus for student learning, mountain research, and conferences. It is located adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park and within the Roosevelt National Forest Comanche Peak Wilderness & Cache la Poudre National Wild & Scenic River designation. The Mountain Campus has the most protected adjacent land of all CSU campuses, highest economic benefit, and second for climate resiliency, least disturbance, and wetland acreage.
https://mountaincampus.colostate.edu/

The Foothills Campus is home to numerous research buildings in Atmospheric Science, Forestry, and more, as well as CSU's composting facility. It is adjacent to city and county protected areas. Of all CSU campuses, it was highest ranked for ecosystem diversity and number of regulatory or other species of concern within a 1-mile buffer. The dominant ecosystem type is grassland/herbaceous.

The Environmental Learning Center, an outreach program of Warner College for youth environmental education, contains and is adjacent to the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas (Running Deer/Cache la Poudre/Big Thompson/Cottonwood Hollow). The site is a Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) potential conservation area and contains active bald eagle nests. CNHP recognized it as a potential habitat for the federally threatened jumping mouse. It contains the highest wetland acreage of all CSU campuses, is highest ranked for climate resiliency, second ranked for number regulatory species and ecosystem diversity. The primary ecosystem type is emergent herbaceous wetlands.

Horsetooth Campus is located within Larimer County Park - Horsetooth Mountain Park and Horsetooth Reservoir Hogbacks. CNHP identified it as a potential conservation area. Active golden eagle nests are located within 1-mile of the property. The dominant ecosystem is evergreen forest.

Numerous CSU properties are located near to other city, county or state protected lands or near potential conservation areas. See Table 6 within the CNHP Biodiversity Report for a list of all CSU properties.


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?:
Yes

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

The classifications used to determine endangered or vulnerability status includes: federal protections, BLM Sensitive Species, USFS Special Status Species, Colorado Endangered & Threatened Species, NatureServe Network global and state rankings, and priority species (Tier 1 & 2) from the Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP).

Properties held by CSU had 303 documented occurrences of regulatory species and other species of concern within 1 mile returned in the environmental review of CODEX; additionally, potential habitat was returned for another 2210 regulatory and other species of concern from a combination of range maps, general precision CNHP element occurrence records, and models. The species listed in this submission have a documented occurrence on CSU property since 2019 or are modeled to be on CSU property, with the classifications used to determine their status listed.

The following species are listed on the Colorado Threatened & Endangered List, in order of State Endangered, Threatened, and Concern.
- Wolverine (Gulo gulo) G4S1 SWAP Tier 1, SE
- Lynx (Lynx canadensis) G5S1, SWAP Tier 1, ESA LT. SE
- Plains Minnow (Hybognathus placitus) SWAP Tier 1, SE
- Suckermouth Minnow (Phenacobius mirabilis) SWAP Tier 1, SE
- Brassy Minnow (Hybognathus hankinsoni) SWAP Tier 1, G5 S3, ST
- Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) G5T3 S2, BLM SWAP Tier 1, USFS, SC
- Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) G4 S2B, SC
- Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus) G4S2B, BLM, SWAP Tier 1, USFS, SC
- Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) G4S3BS4N, BLM, SWAP Tier 2, USFS, SC
- Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus Ieucocephalus) G5S3B, S3N, BLM, SWAP Tier 2, USFS, SC
- Iowa Darter (Etheostoma exile) G5 S3, SWAP Tier 2, SC
- Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) G5 S3, SWAP Tier 1, SC
- Greater Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis tabida) G5T5 S3, BLM, SWAP Tier 1, SC
- Flathead Chub (Platygobio gracilis) SWAP Tier 1, SC

The below species are not listed on the Colorado Endangered & Threatened List but through SWAP or another classification system are considered vulnerable.
- Roundtail Chub (Gila robusta) G3 S2 SWAP Tier 1
- Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) G5S3B, S2N, SWAP Tier 1
- American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) CO SWAP Tier 2, G4S1B
- Flannel Mouth Sucker (Catostomus latipinnis) G3G4 S3 SWAP Tier 1
- Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) G5 S3B
- Great Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias) G5 S3B
- Fringed Myotis (Myotis thysanodes) G4S3, BLM, SWAP Tier 1, USFS
- Plains Topminnow (Fundulus sciadicus) SWAP Tier 1
- Dwarf Shrew (Sorex nanus) G4S2, SWAP Tier 2 – modeled
- Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) CO SWAP Tier 2
- Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) G5S4B, S4N, SWAP Tier 2
- Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) G5S3B, SWAP Tier 2
- Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) G5S3B, SWAP Tier 2
- Black Swift (Cypseloides niger) G4S3B, SWAP Tier 2
- Lewis Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) modeled breeding range G4S4, SWAP Tier 2, USFS
- Hoary Bat (Aerostes cinerus) G4S3S4B, SWAP Tier 2, USFS
- Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) G3G4S3S4

The below species are not considered threatened or vulnerable, but due to their ecological roles, are considered of conservation importance.
- Bluehead Sucker (Catostomus discobolus) SWAP Tier 1
- Orangespotted Sunfish (Lepomis humilis) SWAP Tier 1


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:

The Colorado Natural Heritage Program identified 7 CSU campuses as the most important for biodiversity, ranking campuses on the following metrics: number of regulatory/species of concern within 1-mile buffer, number of adjacent protected lands/regions of conservation importance, diversity of ecosystems, NWI Wetland Acreage, Diversity of NWI Types, Economic Benefit, Least Disturbance (LDI), and Climate Resiliency. If campuses had the same result for a metric, the ranking was repeated.

Foothills Campus ranked 1st in regulatory species occurrence and diversity of ecosystems; 2nd for adjacent protected and conservation importance areas, diversity of NWI types, and economic benefit; 3rd for wetland acreage and climate resiliency, and 11th for LDI.

The Mountain Campus ranked 1st in adjacent protected and conservation importance lands and economic benefit; 2nd in wetland acreage, LDI, and climate resiliency; 4th for diversity of NWI types and diversity of ecosystems; and 10th for regulatory species occurrence.

The Horsetooth property ranked 1st for climate resilience and LDI; 3rd for regulatory species occurrence; 4th for adjacent protected or conservation important lands; 7th for diversity of ecosystems and diversity of NWI types; 10th for economic benefit; and 14th for wetland acreage.

The Environmental Learning Center ranked 1st in wetland acreage, diversity of NWI type, and climate resiliency; 2nd in diversity of ecosystems and regulatory species occurrence; 3rd for adjacent protected or conservation important land; 8th for economic benefit; and 28th for LDI.

The Eastern Colorado Research Center ranked 1st for climate resiliency; 3rd for economic benefit; 4th for adjacent protected or conservation important lands; 5th for diversity of ecosystems and wetland acreage; 6th for NWI types and LDI; and 11th for regulatory species occurrence.

ARDEC ranked 3rd for diversity of ecosystems; 4th for diversity of NWI types; 5th for economic benefit and adjacent protected or conservation important lands; 6th for NWI acreage; 7th for climate resiliency; 9th for regulatory species; and 15th for LDI.

Maxwell Ranch ranked 3rd for LDI; 4th for climate resiliency and adjacent protected or conservation important lands; 6th for diversity of ecosystems, diversity of NWI types and economic benefit; and 15th for wetland acreage and regulatory species occurrence.


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

In the fall of 2021, CSU contracted the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), a sponsored program of CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, to conduct the report. Geospatial analysis of CSU property was key to identifying areas of biodiversity importance and occurrences of regulatory species. Property boundary shapefiles were utilized with CODEX to conduct environmental review. The CODEX database returned data from the following boundaries:

• “Documented Occurrences of Regulatory Species within 1 mile of Project Area”
• “Potential Regulatory Species within Project Area: Models, Range Maps or Records with Low Precision”
• “Documented Occurrences of Other Species of Concern within 1 mile of Project Area”
• “Potential Occurrences of Other Species of Concern within Project Area: Models, Range Maps, Low Precision Records”
• “CNHP Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs) and Other Special Areas within 1 mile of Project Area” and
• “National Wetland Inventory (NWI) Features within Project Area by Acreage.”

Regulatory species included species with federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act along with USFWS designated critical habitat. Other species of concern included globally rare species and plant communities, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Sensitive Species or USFS Special Status Species, Colorado Threatened and Endangered List Status, or Tier 1 and Tier 2 priority species from the Colorado State Wildlife Action Plan, and species of economic and recreational value. Globally rare species and plant communities are ranked according to CNHP and the NatureServe Network ranking methodology using a 1-5 scale, with 1 indicating critically imperiled and 5 secure, for both global rarity (G-rank) and state rarity (S-rank).

Potential Conservation Areas (PCAs) are sites identified by CNHP which encompass known elements of biodiversity and the habitat needed to sustain these elements. Other Special Areas include Colorado Designated State Natural Areas, Audubon Important Bird Areas, managed lands from the Colorado Ownership, Management, and Protection (COMaP) database linked within CODEX and the Colorado SB181 High Priority Habitats. Colorado SB181 high priority habitats are habitats designated in wildlife maps which are updated annually and subject to a hearing. These habitats trigger avoidance or consultation with CPW by oil and gas operators under new rules by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).These data were used to create a picture of biodiversity for each property, as well as flag the presence of endangered and vulnerable species.

A CSU biologist also reviewed CSU-owned properties in ArcGIS with the COMaP layer and CNHP PCA layer to note any properties which were adjacent to legally protected areas (e.g., IUCN Category I-VI) or regions of conservation importance. This, in conjunction with the tally of the number of PCAs and other special management areas within a 1-mile buffer of the properties returned from the CODEX environmental review, paints a picture of the connectedness of CSU lands to other lands with conservation value.


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

All property owned by CSU is accounted for in this assessment, with two properties studied in depth. Computer-based analysis was completed by students, with guidelines and procedures developed by CNHP staff, for all CSU property using GIS with CODEX, CoMAP, NWI, and Climate Resilience layers. In addition to their database and mapping resources search, the ESS 501 students conducted interviews with facility staff, researchers, and other professionals associated with two campuses of importance – Eastern Colorado Research Center (ECRC) and Mountain Campus - to obtain records and knowledge on species biodiversity. Information provided included field observations, scientific literature of species research conducted at the campuses, and species lists from past and ongoing research. At ECRC and the Mountain Campus, ESS 501 and ESS 440 students installed acoustic monitoring stations and cameras to monitor for avian, bat and rodent activity.


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

CNHP is the program which curates and maintains Colorado’s only comprehensive source of information on the status and location of Colorado’s rarest and most threatened species and natural plant communities. As such, CNHP directly works within CSU and with a wide range of stakeholders in partnerships to positively affect Colorado’s biodiversity through surveys, monitoring, assessments, education, and outreach. Along with CODEX and COMaP, CNHP has developed the Colorado Wetlands Information Center which is an online suite of resources to protect and educate stakeholders about the importance, location, condition, and care of the state’s wetland resources. CNHP also maintains the online Rare Plant Guide to educate and facilitate the identification and care of our state’s most rare botanical resources. Along with The Nature Conservancy, CNHP created a statewide survey of the status of Colorado’s biodiversity using a scorecard approach to evaluate 18 ecosystems, 113 at-risk vertebrate animal species, and 103 rare 26 plants through a lens of status, threats, and protection (Rondeau et al. 2011). CNHP regularly updates and tracks the biodiversity status of conservation elements in the state. In addition to the work of CNHP, several conservation plans exist in the state to protect and support rare species which may be found on CSU lands.


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:

View the ArcGIS story map developed for the project by students and CNHP staff: https://cnhp.colostate.edu/projects/service-learning/

Access the full report online: https://cnhp.colostate.edu/download/documents/2022/CSU-Bio_Report_CNHP_2022.pdf

The Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), sponsored by Colorado State University's Warner College of Natural Resources, is Colorado’s only comprehensive source of information on the status and location of Colorado’s rarest and most threatened species and natural plant communities. CNHP shares information with a wide range of stakeholders in partnerships that work to ensure that Colorado’s biodiversity resources are not diminished.
https://cnhp.colostate.edu/

Read updates about CNHP work: https://cnhp.colostate.edu/cnhpblog/

The Colorado Conservation Data Explorer - CODEX - is a database developed by CNHP to synthesize conservation data from the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (coming soon), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), NatureServe and many other sources.
https://codex.cnhp.colostate.edu/

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.