Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 49.89
Liaison Ann Drevno
Submission Date Jan. 25, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Saint Mary's College of California
OP-11: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Michael Viola
Director of Facilities Services
Facilities Services
"---" 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?:
Yes

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:

Saint Mary’s College of California is situated within a couple of natural open space areas which make for a beautiful campus setting. These areas have the potential for the existence of protected and endangered species and habitats. Therefore, prior to construction near these areas, SMC has followed the appropriate protocols to have the areas assessed by a licensed biologist and make recommendations prior to construction.

Area 1: Lake LaSalle is one watershed on the northern portion of the campus which includes protected habitats and species covering 17 acres. The red cedar swamp is an environmentally sensitive area providing a home for wildlife such as nesting red tail hawks, deer, raccoon, California salamander, a number of California native plants.

Area 2: Laguna Watershed is a seasonal creek on the south side of campus, which includes seasonal sensitive species and habitats.


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

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

The methodology(-ies) used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

Present construction (2015):
Saint Mary's College, in partnership with MIG & TRA Environmental Services, is preparing a Campus Master Plan (CMP) that utilizes literature review, field surveys, and a special-status species habitat evaluation to identify and determine potential biological impacts as a result of the CMP.

Past construction:
Prior to construction of two separate projects on campus, SMC hired Wood Biological Consulting, Inc., to assess potential sensitivity of two study areas on campus Lake LaSalle, and the sensitive areas around the Ballfields prior to any construction which included the following studies:

Lake LaSalle, Topographic Survey/Verified, September 25, 2006. Administrative Draft–Wetland Delineation for Lake LaSalle, November 27, 2006. Wetland Delineation Map; and Biological Assessment for Lake LaSalle, Saint Mary’s College of California, Contra Costa County, January 5, 2007.

Ballfields. Biological Assessment for Proposed Ballfield Facility, Saint Mary’s College of California, Contra Costa County, January 24, 2008; and Floristic Analysis for the Proposed Ballfield Facility, Saint Mary’s College of California, Contra Costa County, April 19, 2009


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

The Administrative Draft–Wetland Delineation for Lake LaSalle identified the following in 2006:
- Central Coast riparian scrub - 1,600 Linear Feet = 11.7 Acres; 509,370 Square Feet
- Other Waters of the U.S./State = 300 Linear Feet = 0.145; 6,300 Square Feet
The red cedar swamp is an environmentally sensitive area providing a home for wildlife such as nesting red tail hawks, deer, raccoons, California salamander, a number of California native plants.

The Ballfields Biological Assessment identified potential biological constraints to the future construction of a baseball stadium and practice field at the site (which has since been built and located at a different site). According to the reconnaissance level assessment, the study area does not appear to function as an important wildlife corridor.
A single special‐status natural community, creeping ryegrass grassland, is present on site. Creeping ryegrass grassland is categorized as an alliance or association considered rare and worthy of consideration by the California Natural Diversity Database. No wetlands, riparian habitat, or other special‐status natural communities are present on site.


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

According to the Wood Studies on Lake LaSalle, impacts from construction can be mitigated to a level that is less than significant with incorporation of the following measures.

1. The project should be designed to avoid or minimize, to the maximum extent feasible, the amount of grading and filling within wetlands, and the removal of wetland and upland vegetation.

2. A formal wetland delineation should be prepared and submitted to the USACE for verification of jurisdiction 3.

3. Prior to the initiation of any grading or filling of wetland or riparian habitats on site, concurrence regarding jurisdiction and the need for regulatory permits should be obtained from each the USACE, RWQCB and CDFG.

4. In addition, conditions of permits issued by these agencies can be expected to include measures to avoid impacts to special-status species.

5. Project design and implementation will be subject to review of and approval by the Town of Moraga, and must comply with policies of the General Plan.

5.2 Special-Status Plant Species. No state or federally listed endangered, threatened, rare, or candidates plant species were detected and none is considered to have a high potential to occur on site. However, three special-status species (Northern California black walnut, western leatherwood, Diablo helianthella) are considered to have a moderate potential to occur within the study area. One special-status upland species, robust mondardella, is considered to have a high potential to occur within the study area. Once a final project layout has been identified, the following measures are recommended to ensure that the project would not result in significant impacts to special-status plant species.

1. The preferred project design should be reviewed by a qualified botanist. A site review is warranted to determine if any of the perennial species-status plant species is present within the construction area, or if suitable habitat is present for any annual special-status plant species.

2. If any special-status species is present, realignment of the project is recommended to avoid impacts.

3. For unavoidable impacts to special-status plants, an appropriate mitigation plan should be developed in coordination with the appropriate agency to satisfy their concerns.

5.3 Special-Status Animal Species. A total of eighteen special-status animal species are considered to have some potential to occur within the study area. With respect to these species, four potential impacts resulting from future development of the site have been identified. A 3-A formal wetland delineation has been prepared and its submittal to the USACOE is pending. Implications for future development:

1) Several San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat middens are present near the access road to the spillway/dam structure from the Saint Mary’s College campus. To avoid any “take” of the subspecies, the following measures are warranted:
• Prior to the initiation of percussive/ground disturbing activities or staging of equipment, woodrat middens within 100 feet of works areas shall be surveyed and monitored to determine if they are active.
• Prior to commencing work, CDFG shall be consulted to determine which middens should be avoided, dismantled and relocated, or monitored during construction activities.

2) Several large trees and dense grassland located within or adjacent to the project site provide suitable nesting habitat for various raptors and passerine species. To ensure compliance to the MBTA4 and California Fish and Game Code5 the following measures are recommended:
• Preconstruction nesting bird surveys should be conducted by a qualified biologist no more than two weeks prior to the start of construction for activities occurring during the breeding season (February 1st to August 31st). If active nests of special-status bird species are found where work is to occur within 300 feet of raptor or 100 feet of passerine nests, a non-disturbance buffer should be established at a distance sufficient to minimize nest disturbance based on the nest location, topography, cover and species’ tolerance to disturbance.

3) Although California red-legged frog has not been reported on site, the species has been recorded downstream of the project area along Las Trampas Creek. Due to the potential for occurrence of CRF on site, and the potential for harm during construction, it is recommended that standard measures, derived from the USFWS Programmatic Consultation specific to the CRF (USFWS 1999b) be employed. Depending on final project design, some of these measures might not be warranted.

Based on the potential for several special‐status species to occur within the project area, precautionary measures are recommended to avoid or minimize impacts to sensitive biological resources. These are standard measures typically incorporated in construction projects. Depending on final project design, some of these measures might not be warranted.

According to the Ballfield Biological Assessment, the following measures should be taken prior to construction (however the construction of the ballfields occurred outside of the sensitive area): In order to conform to federal, state and local statutes and policies, the following steps should be considered during the planning and permitting of the proposed project:

1) Grading impacts on creeping ryegrass grassland patches should be minimized to
the extent feasible. Unavoidable impacts should be mitigated by recreating new
habitat on the graded slopes at a 2:1 replacement ratio using a combination of
salvaged rhizome cuttings and commercial seed.

2) If feasible, grading should avoid the single colony of Diablo helianthella.

3) A floristic survey should be completed in the spring of 2009 to adequately
determine the presence or absence of the remaining target plant species.

4) For land‐clearing activities scheduled during the breeding season (February 1 and
August 31), a pre‐construction survey for nesting and breeding activities of
special‐status and other migratory birds should be conducted no more than two
weeks prior to the start of work. Active nests must not be disturbed either
directly, by tree/brush removal or ground clearing, or indirectly, by construction
activities that cause nest abandonment. An appropriate no‐disturbance buffer
zone of at least 250 feet for raptors and 50 feet for passerines shall be designated
by the project biologist; the buffer zone shall be maintained until such time as the
young birds have fledged.

5) In order to ensure that tree removal does not impact special‐status bat species,
suitable bat roosting habitat such as snags, rotten stumps, mature trees with
broken limbs, exfoliating bark, and dense foliage shall be inspected by a qualified
biologist.

6) Although not detected within the study area, there is a high likelihood that San
Francisco dusky‐footed woodrat could occur on site. A preconstruction survey
should be conducted prior to initiation of ground clearing activities.

7) Although the occurrence of overwintering monarch butterflies is unlikely,
suitable habitat is present. Prior to tree removal during the winter months, a
qualified biologist should inspect all large trees to ensure that no overwintering
butterfly roosts would be taken.


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