Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 73.13
Liaison Bridget Flynn
Submission Date March 9, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Oberlin College
OP-11: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Bridget Flynn
Sustainability Coordinator
Office of Environmental 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 any legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance on institution owned or managed land:
At the crossroads of organic food, environmental restoration, and social justice, the 70-acre George Jones Memorial Farm and Nature Preserve is a vibrant space for students and the community to come together to create a sustainable food system for Northeast Ohio and beyond. Oberlin College leases the Jones Farm to the New Agrarian Center (NAC), a nonprofit organization. NAC is housed at and operates the farm along with an innovative Community Supported Agriculture model called City Fresh. A combination of Oberlin students, faculty, alumni, and community members started NAC, the Jones Farm, and City Fresh. Located just one mile from campus, the George Jones Memorial Farm is an innovative educational site with an abundance of resources and activities for students and the greater community. Named after beloved Oberlin College botanist George Jones, the farm is a haven for native plants. With a focus on restoration agriculture, techniques used here help build soil and create healthier, more nutritious crops. The farm partners with Oberlin College to accept food waste from campus dining halls, while providing local food back to students. The farm uses conventional organic and inventive methods for cultivation. Along with annual row crops, the farm has incorporated perennial systems, high tunnel hoop houses, rotational systems, fruit and nut cultivation, and sugar maple production. Many avenues for learning are open to students who desire to work with farm staff. The Nature Preserve offers a wide range of ecosystems to explore and study. The preserve is accessible through interpretive trails (hiking, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, horse) that pass through wetlands, forests, prairies, vernal pools, and ponds. An abundance of wildlife lives or passes through the property, allowing ample bird watching, animal tracking, and native plant appreciation. On the farm’s south side, Oberlin College has installed a series of research ponds, designed to understand wetland restoration for Ohio ecosystems. For more information, contact Brad Charles Melzer: bcmelzer@gotthenac.org, (425) 443-3791. Visit online at http://www.cityfresh.org/george-jones-farm The Arboretum is the southernmost point on campus: a beautiful preserve with trails, creeks, bridges, and, of course, trees. Along with the wooded section, the Arb also has a reservoir, split into two lakes. The sides of the reservoirs make perfect sledding hills during colder months. Each season is lovely in the Arboretum: crocuses bloom in early spring, grass thickens in summer, leaves burst with color in the fall, and snow blankets the area in winter. Varied academic departments—biology, rhetoric, environmental studies, and photography, to name a few—use the Arboretum to collect data and have field lessons. Oberlin College purchased the 17-acre Ladies' Grove in 1892 to develop it as a nature preserve. At the time, the grove was considered one of the only places appropriate for women to walk and enjoy nature. Alumnus Charles Martin Hall bought 77 acres of the property surrounding the grove to establish a full-fledged arboretum. Since then, the Arb has become a favorite of runners and stargazers, hikers and birdwatchers, as well as anyone who wants to take a long walk in the woods.

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable 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 methodology(-ies) used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:
The College owns an Arboretum which is regularly visited and monitored. The Director of Grounds has worked with the Lorain County Land Conservancy, removing exotic invasive plants and planting natives in various green spaces on campus property. The Plum Creek stream bed has been worked on by students to remove exotic invasive plants.

A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:
According to Oberlin's Head of Grounds, the Arboretum has a 10 acre parcel on the west side that has probably never been logged commercially. There is evidence of homesteading, but it is minor plantings and few daffodils. The area is protected as a natural area. The eastern section of the Arboretum has locust plantings that were probably planted to coppice and produce fence posts. David Benzing, Professor Emeritus of Biology, walked the site with me several times. He is a good souse for historical facts. The Kahn Woods tract north east of Kahn Hall is an area that is protected and is being developed as a natural area.

A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:
Oberlin's Grounds Department worked with the City of Oberlin to change ordinances governing grass to allow for natural landscaping. They have converted fine cut turf to wildflower meadows at eight locations on campus totaling seven acres. The 94 acre Oberlin arboretum is home to a large number of wildlife. The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies was conceived as an integrated building-landscape system. The landscape features a variety of constructed ecosystems that simulate native Northern Ohio ecosystems and incorporate cultigens that produce food for humans. The edible landscape tells a story of integrating food production with aesthetic considerations. The restored wetland and forest ecosystems speak to the pre-agricultural history of the site. The George Jones Farm includes preserved forests and restored wetlands.

The website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity policies and programs(s) is available:
Data source(s) and notes about 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.