Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 81.82
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Feb. 23, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Green Mountain College
OP-9: Landscape Management

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.07 / 2.00 Jim Graves
Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences
Humanities, Arts, and Natural Sciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total campus area (i.e. the total amount of land within the institutional boundary):
210 Acres

Figures required to calculate the total area of managed grounds:
Area (double-counting is not allowed)
Area managed in accordance with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that uses a four-tiered approach 180.83 Acres
Area managed in accordance with an organic land care standard or sustainable landscape management program that has eliminated the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in favor of ecologically preferable materials 15.87 Acres
Area managed using conventional landscape management practices (which may include some IPM principles or techniques) 2 Acres
Total area of managed grounds 198.70 Acres

A brief description of any land excluded from the area of managed grounds (e.g. the footprint of buildings and impervious surfaces, experimental agricultural land, areas that are not regularly managed or maintained):

The footprint of buildings(11.3 acres) is excluded from the area of managed grounds identified.

Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an IPM program:

A copy of the IPM plan or program:

A brief description of the IPM program:

The College does not use herbicides or pesticides on the main campus in order to protect environmental and human health. 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. 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.

The 85 acre Deane Nature Preserve is managed by the native plants crew of Green Mountain College for invasive species in accordance with the Native Species Policy.

More specifically, Green Mountain College follows a 4 tiered IPM protocol on our lands as follows:
1) set action thresholds,
The Native Plant Land Manager in consultation with a faculty member with land management oversight is charged with implementing our GMC Invasive Species Control Policy, approved by the administration in 2006. Non-native invasive species on our campus and in the region are on a list that sets priorities for action. Highly invasive species that have not been found on campus or that are recently discovered on campus are given a zero-tolerance threshold: e.g., if we discover black swallow-wort on campus the land manager will manually remove all the known plants. Highly invasive species already found on campus vary in treatment: if a feasible sustainable control methods that does not compromise ecosystem health or health of native species is available, we make it a high priority to use that method. For species dispersed by seed, we set a development threshold: for example, invasive shrubs reach a zero-tolerance threshold when they begin to bear fruit. We aim to pull all individuals before they produce fruit. For invasive species that land managers in the region haven’t found large-scale sustainable methods of control, we test methods of control in portions of campus or in small plots, and scan the literature for promising approaches. Ultimately, our aim is to set action thresholds that prevent a non-native species from reducing populations of native plant and animal species in campus lands. We have management plans for invasive species that identify these thresholds. Thus, for Garlic Mustard, any 2nd-year plants are above threshold: we sweep the entire campus for 2nd year plants in an annual Garlic Mustard Pull during Earth Week each year, with follow-up campus sweeps by the land manager and volunteers during May and early June.

Additional thresholds for fauna are set by facilities members in consultation with our natural resource management faculty.

2) monitor and identify pests
The Native Plant Land Manager in collaboration with a faculty member monitors our 40-acre natural area on main campus and the 85-acre Deane Preserve for invasive plant species. It is part of his/her job to walk the length of our floodplain forest and survey adjacent old fields that are under natural succession for known invasive species, and mark these for later management. This is done at least 4 times per year, and is the main way we find new populations of bird-dispersed shrubs such as Multiflora Rose, Barberry, Common Buckthorn, Glossy Buckthorn, and Morrow’s Honeysuckle. Members of the Facilities crews report any unusual plant or animal sightings on both our natural lands and our managed lands to the land manager or the faculty member. In the fall of 2017, faculty from our natural resources management program set up cameras to monitor animals in our compost facility and have recently received a grant to further monitor larger mammals on our lands with radio and gps tracking, however the level of their impact on our campus is limited.

3) prevent or remove conditions that attract pests, and
We prevent establishment of invasive plant species by (1) promoting Leave-No-Trace land use practices with land users on most of our natural areas so that natural vegetation isn’t trampled and remains vigorous; (2) concentrating heavy use in a river spot that has a fire pit and a place to enjoy the river – the land manager sees that invasive species in this high-use area are removed so the site doesn’t become a source of new populations of the species; (3) releasing our abundant advance regeneration of native species in old fields by removing invasive species, maintaining dominance of the native species and making it harder for new arrivals of invasive species to get established, and (4) restoration plantings of tree and shrub species native to our “Silver Maple- Ostrich Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest” in old fields adjacent to our existing floodplain forest, as we observe that Reed Canary Grass and other hay grasses in the old hay field can prevent establishment of native trees even 15 years after release from agriculture.

We have been targeting the control of our waste management to lessen the attraction to animals in the region. In Fall 2017, a natural resource management course made recommendations to address conditions with our on-site waste management practices at our compost facility and we work with our waste diversion crew to implement preventative measures to lessen the facilities attraction of animals. In addition, we work with our waste hauler, specifically in the summer to ensure the area around our landfill compactor is cleaned each time the waste bins are removed.

The Native Plant Land Manager is a half-time AmeriCorps member who with one Natural Areas Work Study student implements control of invasive species, working with and supervised by a faculty member with expertise in plant ecology and restoration. The faculty member and land manager meet frequently to assess management needs, set priorities, and change management plans as needed. For example, the biennial Garlic Mustard is controlled by manually pulling 2nd year plants before they set seed in June. Dame’s Rocket has a similar life history, and so is pulled on a similar schedule; however, since we don’t think the species poses as great a risk to native plant communities as Garlic Mustard, it is given lower control priority: it is pulled in portions of the natural area. These species are placed in a compost pile dedicated to them, covered with a tarp, and periodically checked to make sure individuals aren’t escaping from the pile. We’ve found that a large pile of Garlic Mustard plants breaks down readily with no escapes. Several invasive shrub species require similar management methods. Shrubs are pulled manually, often with the help of our weed wrench. Large shrubs are first cut about 0.5 m above ground to allow easier access with the weed wrench and shovels. If shrubs are too large to remove with the weed wrench, we use one of two methods: (1) stems are cut well above ground, and then cut lower, below resprouts the following year. Some very large Honeysuckle are killed by this method, especially if small resprouts are pulled in the 3rd year. (2) Stems are cut, preferably in late summer, and glyphosate is painted in a ring on the cambium layer with a small artist’s brush. This targeted use of herbicide doesn’t affect nearby plants.

Control of animal pests, when needed, is managed by live traps. Any issues requiring the College beyond live-traps is outsourced to a outside to use targeted control measures on the specific threat.

We anticipate the arrival of Emerald Ash Borer within the next few years, and our campus does have significant Ash in natural areas as well as on main campus, but we will not recommend any chemical treatment of trees when that species arrives. In fall 2018, our Tree Care Committee will develop a plan to replace ash trees on the designed portions of campus.

Percentage of grounds managed in accordance with an organic program:

A brief description of the organic land standard or landscape management program that has eliminated the use of inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in favor of ecologically preferable materials:

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 2.5 acres of gardens, 0.07 acres of high tunnel production, and 13.3 acres of pasture. Cerridwen Farm follow the National Organic Program regulations and is certified by Vermont Organic Farmers which is a part of NOFA-VT.

A brief description of the institution's approach to plant stewardship:

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. The work is 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.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, Green Mountain College developed a tree care plan and tree advisory committee to complete the final requirements of successfully achieving Tree Campus USA designation. The College has also developed a plan to transition the main Poultney campus into an arboretum representing local and regional ecosystems and conducted the first plantings in May 2017.

A brief description of the institution's approach to hydrology and water use:

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 the institution's approach to materials management and waste minimization (e.g. composting and/or mulching on-site waste):

The sustainable purchasing policy 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 approach to energy-efficient landscape design:

We minimize leaf-blowing on campus by using rakes more often than gasoline-driven leaf blowers and by moving leaves just a short distance to the base of the tree where we create natural tree rings around trees to help nourish the root system. These leaves decompose throughout the year and become a natural mulch.

A brief description of other sustainable landscape management practices employed by the institution (e.g. use of environmentally preferable landscaping materials, initiatives to reduce the impacts of ice and snow removal, wildfire prevention):

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.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

Professor Jim Graves and Native Plants Managers Hunter Throwbridge and Liz Borgnet provided information about the general land management practices, especially regarding the invasive species and native species policies. Farm Manager Elizabeth Hammond about the farm lands management.

Total campus area includes the Poultney campus(123 acres), Killington campus(2 acres), and the Deane Nature Preserve(85 acres).

Professor Jim Graves and Native Plants Managers Hunter Throwbridge and Liz Borgnet provided information about the general land management practices, especially regarding the invasive species and native species policies. Farm Manager Elizabeth Hammond about the farm lands management.

Total campus area includes the Poultney campus(123 acres), Killington campus(2 acres), and the Deane Nature Preserve(85 acres).

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.