Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 64.57
Liaison Sherri Mason
Submission Date June 14, 2023

STARS v2.2

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Sherri Mason
Director of Sustainability
School of Science
"---" 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:
Wintergreen Gorge is a six-mile long canyon in Harborcreek Township, which reachest depths of 250-feet at its highest point. It was carved from shale and sandstone by Fourmile Creek during the end of the last Ice Age more than 11,000 years ago. The gorge includes a partially mature forest community of county and state significance, in which there are two rare habitats that harbor plant species of special concern.

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:
Golden-fruit Sedge (Pennsylvania Endangered) is known to be in the Wintergreen Gorge. Its habitat moist, calcareous slumps and seeps.
Carolina Grass-of-parnassus (Pennsylvania Endangered) was known to be in the vicinity of Wintergreen Gorge. Its habitat is boggy meadows or seeps on calcareous soils. It flowers in August through September.
Canada buffalo-berry (Pennsylvania Endangered) was known to be in the vicinity of Wintergreen Gorge. Its habitat is wet, shaley banks and open to partly shaley slumps. It flowers in late June and fruits in July.
Within the campus Arboretum:
Ginkgo, one of the oldest living tree species in the world, has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine. Members of the royal court were given ginkgo nuts for senility. Other historical uses for ginkgo were for asthma, bronchitis, and kidney and bladder disorders. (Endangered and critical impaired)

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:
The Wintergreen Gorge is a 3,980-foot long, 250-feet deep natural wonder in Harborcreek Township that was carved from shale and sandstone by Fourmile Creek during the end of the Ice Age. Most of the Gorge is located on the 780-acre campus of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The Wintergreen Gorge is a partially mature forest community of county and state significance, in which there are two rare habitats that harbor plant species of special concern.

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College commissioned Pashek Associates for the preparation of a Sustainability Master Plan for the Wintergreen Gorge (which is located on campus) with funding from PA DCNR. The purpose of this plan was to inventory, analyze, evaluate, recommend, and provide implementation strategies to manage the Wintergreen Gorge for conservation, recreation, and environmental education. This Master Plan was released in December 2014.

A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):
Detailed in the Wintergreen Gorge Sustainability Master Plan, which can be found at https://sites.psu.edu/wintergreengorge/

A brief description of the plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats, and/or ecosystems:
The Wintergreen Gorge Master Plan acts to improve the natural systems, ecological resources, and hydrologic features of the gorge for future generations of Erie County residents to enjoy. In particular the master plan calls for the the installation of:
• boardwalk decking over wet areas as part of the main trail to protect the natural habitat;
• rain gardens to increase the hydrology of the area, decrease erosion, and improve overall water quality;
• overlook/observation points to provide safe vantage points for visitors while maintaining the integrity of the natural environment; and
• signage at multiple points along the main trail to encourage people to stay on the main trail in order to allow many of the existing, unsustainable trail scars to heal.

In totality the Wintergreen Gorge Master Plan provides:
i. Management of the upland forest, lowland forest, and riparian habitats to retain and improve forest structure for habitat;
ii. Habitat restoration of wet meadows, wetlands, open grass meadows, and other landscape types;
iii. Management of upstream storm water discharges to improve the water quality of Fourmile Creek;
iv. Restoration and improvements to Fourmile Creek to improve fish habitat and access for anglers;
v. Habitat protection for the two rare plant species present on the property; and
vi. Interpretation of geologic, hydrologic, and ecological features for casual visitors from the community, school aged children, and post- secondary students.

Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
10

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
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