Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 72.61
Liaison Jack Byrne
Submission Date May 1, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Middlebury College
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Jack Byrne
Director of Sustainability Integration
Environmental Affair
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Ecological Assessment of College Lands

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Professor of Environmental Studies Marc Lapin recently completed the Ecological Assessment of College Lands, an innovative report that involved nine students over the course of four years assessing about 5,500 acres of agricultural and forest lands. The 160-page report entitled, “An Ecological Perspective of the Middlebury College Mountain Lands: Natural communities and vascular flora of lands of the Bread Loaf Region and the Green Mountain Western Escarpment,” describes the natural communities and their ecological significance at the regional and local levels. The report provides a landscape overview of geology, topography, soils and hydrology, and then presents the ecological values and highlights of approximately 3,000 acres. In addition to documenting ecological values, the report provides specific management recommendations for each parcel. Similarly, a 2009 report, “Ecological and Agroecological Evaluation of Middlebury College Lands: Champlain Valley and Green Mountain Escarpment,” describes ecological and agricultural values of nearly 3,000 acres of lower elevation lands. Together these two provide land management and conservation guidance for the College’s off-campus landholdings.

A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

In evaluating the lands, the team combined intensive field work with GIS analyses and mapping to delineate natural communities and more accurately display locations of wetlands and streams. The team also developed plant lists that include over 400 species. The report has already been put into use by students who have found useful information for locating appropriate study sites for individual research and thesis work. The report has also been used by College administration and staff and has been submitted to the College Lands Advisory Group who will work on developing a less technical summary publication.

The ecological information will help with the management of these lands and encourage better land stewardship. Furthermore, the report has great significance on a state level in that it will assist with revising the Vermont Natural Community Classification. By helping the state update and communicate about natural communities, the report aims to promote an understanding of the biodiversity of ecosystems on a community level. This report will not only impact the College and its understanding of its landholdings, but also provide resources for better ecological understanding to the public of Vermont.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research Yes
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy No
Grounds Yes
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste ---
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:

The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

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