Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.92
Liaison Christie-Joy Hartman
Submission Date Dec. 21, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

James Madison University
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Abram Kaufman
Energy Conservation and Sustainability Manager
Facilities Management Engineering & 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, and/or regions of conservation importance?:

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

According to STARS staff in a conversation with Abram Kaufman on February 10, 2017, the 340-acre Edith J. Carrier Arboretum meets the STARS criteria for a protected area, as it is dedicated and managed for long-term conservation per the designations below:
• The Arboretum has been declared a Living Legacy, commissioned on September 17, 1987 by the Commission of the Bicentennial of the United States of America, chaired by Warren E. Burger. This commission states that the Arboretum will link the past to the future by preserving a natural woodland comprised of native species of the region interspersed with selected cultivars, depicting diversity.
• The Board of Visitors of JMU created a resolution in May 1993 to assure that the Arboretum’s 125 acres (37 acres of developed land, 88 acres in a natural state) will be reserved for student/community use and enjoyment.
For the Arboretum, the grounds are carefully managed for ecosystem protection and restoration, visitor enjoyment of these qualities, and study and research by JMU faculty and students to understand ecosystem and cultural dynamics. Significantly, the area has also seen restoration projects, such as restoration of the main, previously-degraded stream corridor through the heart of the property.

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on institution-owned or –managed land?:

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

Environmentally-sensitive is defined by STARS as “having unique or significant value to plant and/or animal species”. It is critical to note that “environmentally-sensitive” has many definitions, and the analysis here is based on the authors’ professional judgment of how the areas matched the STARS definition specifically. The observational analysis is confirmatory for inclusion in STARS alone, and is insufficient and unsuitable for legal classification of the areas.

A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

The university is fortunate to have four identified environmentally-sensitive areas: (1) Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, (2) the Port Republic Road Farm property, (3) the riparian corridors along Sibert Creek and other tributaries to Blacks Run, and (4) East Campus Hillside Area. The ecosystem services benefits of these areas include stormwater and flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, pollinator conservation, wildlife habitat, and the maintenance of a native seed bank. These areas also serve to replicate ecosystem succession, often with an overlay of experimental design and inquiry methods.

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

JMU has plans and programs in place for each of the environmentally-sensitive areas noted above. As stated, the Arboretum, Hillside, and Farm property are actively used by staff, faculty, and students to learn ecological principles and study methods. Plots and transects are evident in these locations. The Arboretum is continuously developing plans to restore and enhance native plant communities and seeks funding for positive outcomes. Other restored native landscapes (e.g., Hillside) are the subject of wildlife studies (e.g., birds, butterflies, insects) as well as studies on how to use compost derived from campus-generated waste materials.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

JMU retained the services of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC), the Center for Urban Habitats, and Hirschman Water & Environment to independently map areas on campus and identify the areas that fall within two STARS biodiversity categories. This was not a full ecosystem study or species/habitat analysis, but an independent verification of areas specifically for inclusion in the credit. Their findings as summarized above provide documentation and responses for OP-10 based on mapping, consultation with Facilities Management staff, a preliminary field investigation, and analysis of collected data. The external contractors did view the areas first hand to list some species they observed. They did not meet with faculty and students, and based the analysis on first-hand observation.

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.