Overall Rating Reporter
Overall Score
Liaison Megan Curtis-Murphy
Submission Date May 28, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Northeastern University
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Reporter Casey Shetterly
Special Projects - 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:

Contiguous to the Northeastern University campus in Boston is the Emerald Necklace which comprises a number of permanently protected parks. The Fredrick Law Olmstead designed parks are jointly owned and cared for by the Cities of Boston, Brookline and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the public. There is an extraordinary 1,100 acres that consist of five parks linked by a network of parkways resulting in a comprehensive system of water, meadows and woodland measuring five miles in length from the Boston Common to Franklin Park. The Necklace was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Olmsted Park System in 1971. In 1996 the Emerald Necklace Conservancy was created to protect, restore, maintain and promote the park system.

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:

The 20.4± acre site is located at the easterly terminus of Nahant on East Point. The Northeastern University Marine Science Center is situated within the western portion of the property, accessed off Nahant Road to the northwest. LEC Environmental Consultants, Inc., (LEC) conducted multiple site evaluations to identify and characterize Wetland Resource Areas protected under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (WPA; M.G.L. c. 131, s. 40), its implementing Regulations (310 CMR 10.00) and the Town of Nahant Wetland Protection Bylaw (Article 17) and associated Rules and Regulations located on the above-referenced subject parcel. Protectable Land Under the Ocean, Coastal Beach, Rocky Intertidal Shores, Coastal Bank, Land Subject to Coastal Storm Flowage (LSCSF), Bank (Inland), and Bordering Vegetated Wetlands (BVW) are located on the subject parcel. On September 26, 2019, LEC demarcated the BVW/Freshwater Wetland boundary. The on-site BVW/Freshwater Wetland boundary was determined through observations of the existing plant communities, using the "fifty percent criteria" of the natural vegetative community to determine dominance of obligate or facultative wetland plant species. The soil characteristics and other indicators of wetland hydrology were also evaluated in accordance with the criteria enumerated within the WPA Regulations at 310 CMR 10.55 (2), the Handbook prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, entitled Delineating Bordering Vegetated Wetlands Under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (March 1995), the Field Indicators for Identifying Hydric Soils in New England-Version 4, May 2017, and Bylaw and Bylaw Regulations.

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

The West and East Bunkers and upland located east of the East Bunker are dominated by invasive species, including Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), and autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) shrubs and Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculata) entanglements. Three (3) distinct stands of invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) occur within the eastern portion of the property, while invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) intermittently occurs on the East Bunker. Invasive Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) trees/saplings occur sporadically with mature hardwood tree growth more prevalent on the East Bunker, most notably the west-facing slope. Native vegetation is primarily limited to sporadic black cherry (Prunus serotina) and eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) along with variably-sized patches of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) amongst the encroaching invasive species. Non-native crab apple (Malus spp.) are also intermittently dispersed throughout, while a cluster of Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii) trees occur immediately east of the East Bunker. An early successional habitat pocket is located east of the Japanese black pine cluster and occupied by various grasses and scattered autumn olive, multiflora rose, staghorn sumac, and Asiatic bittersweet.

The site is not located within a Priority Habitat of Rare Species and Estimated Habitat of Rare Wildlife. The MassGIS NHESP data layers do not depict any Certified or Potential Vernal Pools on or immediately proximate to the site.
The site is not located within an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).

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

The assessments were completed as part of efforts to address the needs of the Northeastern Marine Science Center and the Community of Nahant. Besides the immediate challenges related to coastal erosion, aging facilities and invasive vegetation the University intends to consider the uses while adapting the parcel to the particular needs of the research center and the community. The Planning department is in the midst of utilizing the information in an effort to upgrade facilities while addressing the environmental degradation of the site. While this particular work is in process, the University intends to improve the site by removing invasive species and replanting with native, protecting some area for habitat and addressing the ongoing issues related to being on the coast.

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

Additional documentation to support the submission:

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.