Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 55.74
Liaison Kristyn Achilich
Submission Date May 11, 2021

STARS v2.2

Saint Michael's College
IN-50: Innovation D

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Kristyn Achilich
Director and Instructor
Center for the Environment; Education
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Habitat Restoration on Saint Michael's College Campus

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Natural resource degradation and environmental degradation are major sustainability challenges. Saint Michael's is fortunate to have about 350 acres of land along the Winooski River, whose natural communities include a floodplain forest with wetlands, as well as a nearby unique sandplain forest. The floodplain habitat is critical in reducing land erosion and maintaining the flow and quality of stormwater runoff into the river, which eventually drains into Lake Champlain (which is experiencing significant phosphate pollution as a result of runoff). In addition to conserving the entire 350 acres which includes considerable wetlands, Saint Michael’s College has also made an "in perpetuity commitment" to manage 160 of the most critical of those acres as restored wetlands and riparian areas to maximize wildlife habitat and water quality benefits via a conservation easement with the Federal government. The College additionally agreed to collaborate with the USDA NRCS in the restoration of the wetlands and riparian areas within the easement.
Saint Michael’s College has therefore become the first Vermont higher education institution to work with a federal wetlands easement program in the long-term preservation of natural habitat, reducing harmful phosphorous runoff into Lake Champlain and supporting educational and research programs in the College’s increasingly popular and active Natural Area across Route 15 from the main campus.
Although we have documented this arrangement in the credit for Biodiversity (OP10) and it is critical in our credit for Campus as Living Lab (AC-8), we believe that the vision of the restoration and the collaboration with federal and local agencies is a truly innovative program. We are using the funds we received for the easement as an endowment for the Natural Area and the Center for the Environment, which helps to coordinate the teaching and research activities in the Natural Area.
In terms of positive measurable outcomes, we are monitoring the restoration of the habitat (abundance of native plants in restored areas) through teaching and research; it has become an integral project in many environmental science and biology classes. In addition, we are monitoring the levels of phosphorus and other chemicals in the soil and adjacent water, to determine how the restoration is impacting pollution. Finally, it is important to realize that this is an area open to the public; we are monitoring the use of the area for a variety of purposes, and to design educational materials and programs to promote sustainable land use to visitors.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Although we technically have received "credit" for our Natural Area management in OP-10 Biodiversity, and in its use for teaching and research in AC-8, we are going beyond the basic criteria in terms of our active and significant collaboration in the habitat restoration process. In addition to our partnership with NRCS, we also work closely with local agencies and community partners to enhance the restoration (e.g., donations of native trees, consulting with local experts). This project also is integrated fully into our vision of campus as a living lab, with involvement of nearly 20 different classes, a dozen faculty, and numerous student groups. It also provides a community service through its availability for hiking, birding, skiing and cross-country running.

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.