Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.16
Liaison Scott Doyle
Submission Date Oct. 25, 2022

STARS v2.2

Ithaca College
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Scott Doyle
Director
Energy Management and Sustainability
"---" 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:

The Ithaca College Natural Lands consists of approximately 600 acres with two legal conservation easements consisting of approximately 85 acres.


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:

Ecological communities of the South Hill Natural Area (SHNA) East reserve include a mix of successional shrublands, wetland mosaics, and a variety of successional forest types. A 2001 assessment of the ecological communities of SHNA East conducted by Holt Architects P.C. and Ichthyological Associates Inc. recognized SHNA East as ecologically diverse due to a variety of soil types and depths, topography, and past and present human activities (Stafford-Glase et al 2001). The study identified nine different ecological communities, of which three (Perched Swamp White Oak Swamp, Pitch Pine-Oak Forest, and Pitch Pine-Oak-Heath Rocky Summit) are identified as vulnerable at the state level according to the criteria of the New York Natural Heritage Program. The Perched Swamp White Oak Swamp is also designated as a Unique Natural Area (UNA) by Tompkins County and categorized as vulnerable at the global level (Stafford-Glase et al 2001). This rare community is characterized by depressions in shallow bedrock at the top of South Hill, which retain water during periods of relatively high rainfall and create seasonal swamp conditions. This is in contrast with the well-drained, dry, rocky substrates common throughout the other ridge areas of South Hill. Based on this same study, 24 vascular plants and lichens were found to be rare (8) or scarce (16) at the local level. At the state level, three species are listed as endangered: Carex flaccosperma var. glaucodea (blue wood sedge), Carex retroflexa (reflexed sedge), and Carex willdenowii (Willdenow’s sedge). While the study did not classify any portion of SHNA East as primary (never logged) forest, there are certain places in SHNA East that contain large trees of >40 cm in trunk diameter, >150 years in age, dense canopy cover, and other elements of relatively old growth. For example, in 2013 a white oak (Quercus alba) fell in the Boothroyd Woods, and its trunk was cut to reveal 217 annual growth rings. This tree’s germination was thus confirmed to be no later than 1796. In the Cayuga Lake basin, forests with any old growth features are locally scarce (Stafford-Glase et al 2001). The Environmental Management Council of Tompkins County declared most of South Hill Natural Area East as a Unique Natural Area (UNA) for its biological importance.


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:

We have locally or regionally rare plant communities here on South Hill, as well as in our landholdings in Newfield. One example is the Swamp White Oak Swamp Forest, which is also a federal jurisdictional (mitigation) wetland that we monitored for five years but is now released. Another is the Pitch-Pine-White-Oak-Heath assemblage (and maybe plus "Rocky Summit"), which is not threatened and/or endangered per se, but is regionally rare according to the New York Natural Heritage Program. And finally there's a sedge, Glauca (or Glaucous) Sedge, Carex flacca, which thrives on our perennially pounded trail surfaces. It's a rare sort of ecological "win-win" case, where the plant only thrives in environments that are highly disturbed (by heavy recreational traffic) and moderately toxic (by virtue of regular asphalt milling depositions).

http://www.icnaturallands.com/overview/


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

An extensive biological assessment was conducted in 2000 and 2001, using the "Intermediate On-site Determination Method" as detailed in the 1987 Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual (USACE 1987). Further, much of the ICNL was analyzed as a part of the Tompkins County Unique Natural Area (UNA) Inventory which was fully updated in 2021.


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

Detailed site analysis was conducted and documented on all of the 600 acres of ICNL.


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

There is the IC Natural Lands, and a wetlands program on campus. Ithaca College owns nearly 600 acres of natural lands. Much of this forms the South Hill Natural Area adjacent to the college campus in Ithaca, New York. In addition, in the neighboring Town of Newfield, Ithaca College owns and maintains the Bob Robinson Family Preserve and the Ithaca College Natural Resource Reserve, much of which is protected under easement.

In 2020, IC finalized a formal management plan for the ICNLs.


Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
7

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

An example of important species is included as an attachment, though several documents including the ICNL management plan and many other resources help to reinforce the importance of the biodiversity in this area.

Added information on the Tompkins County Unique Natural Area Inventory which includes much of the ICNL is included here - https://tompkinscountyny.gov/emc/Educational-Materials.

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