Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
OP-10: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.45 / 2.00 Jim Graves
Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences
Humanities, Arts, and Natural Sciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds::
Total campus area 125 Acres
Footprint of the institution's buildings 11.30 Acres
Area of undeveloped land, excluding any protected areas 59 Acres

Area of managed grounds that is::
Managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan 0 Acres
Managed in accordance with a sustainable landscape management program that includes an IPM plan and otherwise meets the criteria outlined 52.70 Acres
Managed organically, third party certified and/or protected 0 Acres

A copy of the IPM plan:

The IPM plan :

No pesticides or herbicides are used on campus. GMC’s land management procedures emphasize the early detection and control of invasive plant species following guidelines in the Invasive Species Policy (established 2006), and prevention of pests on managed lands through the use of native species, which provide food and habitat for bird populations that control insects. The Native Species Landscaping Policy (2010) makes species native to the region the general rule and requires justification of non-native species plantings based in part on assurance that these species are not invasive. Plants for landscaping are purchased from growers in the region to help reduce the transmission of animal pests. Grounds crews look to identify problems early and use have-a-heart traps and environmentally sound pest treatments minimally when necessary.

Cerridwen Farm practices organic control methods that rely primarily on crop rotations and diversity for pest control and only use organically approved pest control methods when thresholds of economic damage have been passed. This management applies to 3 acres of crops land, 9.5 acres of pasture and 5 acres of hayfield.

A brief summary of the institution’s approach to sustainable landscape management:

Green Mountain College aims to make land management as integral to its sustainability programs as its progressive efforts to reduce its carbon footprint or promote sustainable food systems. To guide the development of sustainable landscape management, The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (CBD 2002), the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation (Wyse Jackson and Sutherland 2000), and the North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Plant Conservation (BGCI 2006) have been useful models. Land management is evaluated by a Land Use Committee, consisting of faculty, facilities staff, and students. GMC focuses on two aspects of land management – natural areas, and the designed-built landscape.

In college Natural Areas, the general approach is to allow natural processes to occur. However, since riparian forests on campus have been in almost continuous agriculture for over 200 years, and since invasive species displace native species, GMC also practices restoration that includes invasive species management and plantings of native species. A summer Natural Areas Crew managed by a faculty member with expertise in plant ecology implements invasive species management plans. This year (FY 2014) the invasive species management is largely delegated to a half-time AmeriCorps member, the Native Species Land Manager. The 14.2 acre Buffer Zone along the Poultney River is an area that receives extra protection and care. It was designated in 1997 to restore and protect the health of the river and act as an educational resource for the GMC community. Since 2001, the Buffer Zone has been part of 39 acres of natural areas on the main campus. In natural areas, vegetation is allowed to grow up naturally in some areas and has been planted with native species in other areas, establishing floodplain forest with both educational and ecosystem values.

On the designed campus, the College follows the IPM and organic soils management strategies outlined above in the IPM plan section. Additionally, the College aims to reduce the ecological footprint of planted landscapes by increasing its use of native species, and reducing the extent of lawns and other non-native vegetation. In 2010 the College adopted its Native Species Landscaping Policy, and it has approved a proposal to replace existing invasive ornamentals (such as Burning Bush) with native species. Additionally, in order to protect the health of the native Maple trees that dominate central campus, the grounds crew rakes most of the leaves into tree rings under the trees so that the nutrients can return to the root systems. This aids the native trees, and also minimizes the use of fossil fuels for more traditional methods of leaf removal.


BGCI. 2006. North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Plant Conservation. Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

CBD. 2002. Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Wyse Jackson, P.S. and Sutherland, L.A. 2000. International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation. U.K.: Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

A brief description of how the institution protects and uses existing vegetation, uses native and ecologically appropriate plants, and controls and manages invasive species:

Plant communities in college natural areas are managed to promote native wildflowers, trees, and other plants through control of non-native species under the College’s Invasive Species Management Policy (2006). Garlic mustard, Morrow’s honeysuckle, glossy buckthorn, and Japanese knotweed are actively removed by a summer Natural Areas Crew of students, a special Earth Week event, and several classes throughout the school year, under the supervision of a faculty member. In 2013-2014, the work is being led primarily by a half-time AmeriCorps member whose work focuses on land management on campus. GMC’s native species landscaping policy approved in 2010 aims to make landscaping with native species the norm. Plantings of non-native species require a special exception with justification. Additionally, the College's sustainable purchasing policy (2014) states that groundskeeping will purchase native, non-invasive species as much as possible for decorative gardening.

Several completely native gardens are maintained by faculty and students, and a plan is approved to replace invasive ornamental plants on campus with native species. For example, Norway maples will be replaced with sugar maples over the next two years.

A brief description of the institution’s landscape materials management and waste minimization policies and practices:

The sustainable purchasing policy (2014) states that "waste materials such as mulch, dirt, compost, sod, and leaves should be redistributed and used around campus." Most of this material is either incorporated into tree rings around the native maple trees on central campus or used as a source of carbon for compost piles on the farm. Occasionally, the facilities department has a small burn pile for the most woody material.

A brief description of the institution’s organic soils management practices:

Cerridwen Farm at Green Mountain College manages three acres of vegetable production, seventeen acres of mixed hay and pasture land, and approximately 0.25 acres of production under cover. All lands are managed organically from a soil fertility perspective through the use of animal manures from the farm’s livestock, mulches consisting of waste hay and leaves from campus, and compost purchased from Vermont Compost Company. Organic waste matter from the campus dining services is composted with animal manure and also used.

Soil tests are performed periodically to assess for nutrient shortages as well as to guard against overuse of manures. Pasture fertility is primarily maintained through management-intensive grazing techniques although some manure is spread on these lands. Purchased compost is only applied to vegetable areas. A small quantity of purchased organic fertilizer is used in indoor growing spaces. In half of the vegetable areas, tillage is minimal.

A brief description of the institution’s use of environmentally preferable materials in landscaping and grounds management:

The College does not use herbicides or pesticides in order to protect environmental and human health on campus. The grounds crew uses rakes the majority of the time for leaf removal, cutting down the use of leaf blowers considerably, especially since 2013. Invasive species removal is almost exclusively done by hand tools because they are a more environmentally-preferable option and they are more precise than more advanced machinery or herbicides.

GMC's sustainable purchasing policy (2014) states that "Groundskeeping must continue to be as local and sustainable as possible by sourcing materials from self-sustaining closed loops on campus. Materials that are sourced off-campus should be purchased locally. Stone, seeds, plants, and all other necessary materials that the College purchases for landscaping should also be sourced locally whenever possible."

A brief description of how the institution restores and/or maintains the integrity of the natural hydrology of the campus:

The built portions of Green Mountain College campus sit on alluvial terraces not high above the low floodplains of the Poultney River, on deep unconsolidated mixed glacial sediments. Loamy soils range from sandy to high in clay. The coarse-textured soils drain readily, but clay loams on the floodplain drain and dry out slowly. When corn was grown, clay-rich portions of the field were sometimes not planted after wet springs. The Poultney River is relatively clean because there are few active farms upstream that might be non-point sources of nutrient runoff. Hydrology has been changed in the past: (1) Land clearing on broad floodplains sped runoff and reduced coarse woody debris and its associated habitats in the river. (2) The river channel was straightened and banks hardened with large pieces of slate. (3) A drainage ditch was constructed to keep the soccer field and adjacent agricultural fields dry. (4) Campus buildings, roads, parking, sidewalks, and lawns increased compaction and runoff.

Several actions by the College have partially restored the natural hydrology since 1997. The College has: (1) established the Buffer Zone to increase infiltration of water, slow runoff, filter nutrients from water before it enters the river, reduce water temperature, and slow water flow in the river, (2) ended the practice of hardening river bank with large rocks to allow the river to meander, (3) let large hay and corn fields go fallow and go through natural succession in natural areas, (4) planted trees and shrubs to restore forest to portions of the natural areas, (5) planted native species gardens in place of lawn, (6) planted a rain garden and released lawn on the steep slopes between main campus and the floodplain.

A brief description of how the institution reduces the environmental impacts of snow and ice removal (if applicable):

Potasium chloride is used in place of rock salt (sodium chloride), and facilities workers try to be proactive about shoveling to minimize the need for potasium chloride.

A brief description of any certified and/or protected areas:

Is the institution recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Campus USA program (if applicable)?:

The website URL where information about the institution’s sustainable landscape management programs and practices is available:

Professor Jim Graves provided information about the general land management practices, especially regarding the invasive species and native species policies. Professor Kenneth Mulder provided information about the organic soils management. Director of Facilities Glenn LaPlante provided information about the activities of the grounds crew.

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.