Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 61.36
Liaison Rachael Wein
Submission Date March 2, 2020

STARS v2.2

Smith College
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
2.00 / 2.00 Paul Wetzel
Environmental Monitoring Coordinator
Center for Environment, Ecology, Design & 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, 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:

Smith College owns the Ada & Archibald MacLeish Field Station, a 255 acre property in Whately and Conway, Massachusetts. 208 acres (82%) of the field station are permanently protected from development with a Conservation Restriction held by the Kestrel Land Trust (Amherst, MA). The property contains soft and hardwood forests, wetlands, geologic features (rock ledges, boulders, small (40') cliffs), a wide variety of slopes and soil types, old field, active pasture, and hayfield. A perreniel stream, Jimmy Nolan Brook, runs along the eastern boundary and numerous seasonal streams crisscross the property. The field station is adjacent to and contiguous with 5,362 acres of permanently protected acres in Western Massachusetts, recognized by the Nature Conservancy as a "Resilient Landscape." Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife manages property to the East of MacLeish (Mt. Esther Wildlife Management Area), and the Northampton Department of Public Works manages directly adjacent lands to the West as a watershed protection zone. Beyond the Northampton Watershed lands, there is contiguous State Forest land in the towns of Williamsburg, Whately, and Conway. The majority of the field station has high ecological integrity containing large, unfragmented interior forest blocks (determined by the Conservation Analysis Priorities System, Univ. of Massachusetts & MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife). Approximately 35 acres of the property, formerly 1940s agricultural grazing land, is a thicket of invasive shrub species.


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:

Though the species for such priority habitat zones are not advertised to protect them from poachers, we believe that the vernal pool and surrounding areas are associated with the Jefferson Salamander (species of Special Concern in MA) . Common species that require large ranges have been observed on the property, confirming the integrity and quality of the forest ecosystem. Such animals include black bear, bobcat and moose.


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 property occurs within areas designated by the MA Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program (NHESP) as BioMap2 Core Habitat and BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscapes. The Field Station also contains both certified (two certified by the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation) and potential vernal pools. All vernal pools lie within the land in conservation restriction. One vernal pool was observed to have unusually large salamander larvae a number of years, which may have been Jefferson salamanders (a Special Concertn species) or Marbled salamanders (Threatened). Both species are reported to breed on or near the property. Approximately two-thirds of the property has high ecological integrity classified because of the vernal pools surrounded by high quality mature forests and the presence of a large area (approximately one fourth of the property) of interior forest. The property also contains a sizeable boulder field (~1/2 acre), home to many lichens, mosses, and porcupine dens.


The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

Review of BioMap 2 maps--identifies habitat critical to maintaining Massachusett's biodiversity. BioMap 2 maps developed by Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program and The Nature Conservancy.Review of property through the Conservation Analysis Priorities System (Univ. of Massachusetts). A Forest Stewardship Plan and Songbird Habitat Assessment (funding through MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation) was conducted on the property in early 2020. Finally, Smith College faculty and students have conducted short term studies between the years 2013 and the present. There are no longterm biodiversity monitoring assessments at this time.


A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

Most habitat assessments of the property (BioMap 2, Conservation Anyalyses Priorities System) are based on landscape level information mapped by State and large conservation agencies. Based on the presence of certain habitats on the landscape and the amount of non-developed contiguous land around the Field Station, assumptions are made about the ecological integrity and some species living in the property. The Forest Stewardship Plan and Songbird Habitat plans were finer studies done with naturalists and foresters walking the property and collecting data at a smaller scale on the property. Faculty and student projects, as well as personal observations of the Station manager, are the most specific biodiversity assessments.


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

The Smith Campus is an arboretum, a living museum of woody plants, documented and labeled for educational purposes.

About 82% of the MacLeish Field Station protected with a conservation restriction, held by an independent conservation organization. In addition, the mission of the field station is to bring liberal arts and science together to foster interdisciplinary experiential learning. So, it is not in the interest of the College to dramatically change the landscape of the field station.


Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
85

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
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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 and complete the Data Inquiry Form.