Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.92
Liaison Christina Goodwin
Submission Date March 5, 2021
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Sterling College (VT)
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Farley Brown
Faculty in Ecology
Ecology
"---" 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 the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

Cedar Swamp is a class 2 protected wetland by Vermont state law, the Virginia Russell Maple Sugarbush is a 27 acre woodlot that has been certified by Vermont Audubon as a "bird-friendly maple" operation, and over 300 acres make up the Bear Swamp Wildlife Reserve.


Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory 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 methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

The Ecology classes use IBAT (Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool) to identify and assess environmentally sensitive areas.


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

The Cedar Swamp is located between the main campus and Alder and Birch residence halls. Nature trails wind through the thick stands of cedar trees, and wildlife sightings are common. Cedar trees love wet soil, and there is often standing water in parts of the swamp, home to frogs, salamanders, and aquatic invertebrates.

The Virginia Russell Maple Sugarbush, abutting Sterling College’s campus and managed by its students and faculty, is home to over 200 maple taps, a large vernal pool, and numerous species of birds. Both trees and birds will be able to coexist and thrive, thanks to the Bird-Friendly Maple Project, which just recognized the sugarbush as supporting both bird habitats and sugaring activity.

The Bird-Friendly Maple Project is a partnership among Audubon Vermont, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, and the Vermont Maple Sugar Maker’s Association. It seeks to promote bird conservation and maple syrup production.

More than 30 species of birds are known to use maple sugarbushes as nesting habitats, including the wood thrush, the scarlet tanager, and the black-throated blue warbler. Bird-friendly sugarbushes have features that allow birds to successfully raise the next generation, including a diversity of tree species, layers of vegetation, and a plan for invasive plant control.

Bear Swamp resembles many places in northern Canada or Alaska as a "cold sink," where air drains down from the surrounding mountains, is a landscape of stunted trees decorated with strands of pale green lichen. Through the woods at the bottom of a hill, the forest opens up to a wide expanse of what used to be a glacier lake. Stunted black spruce trees grow on a ridge. Sphagnum moss and heaths cover the rubbery floor and temperatures dip far below normal for the latitude.


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

We do not use Cedar Swamp for any stormwater or wastewater treatment; the college works with the Vermont Wetlands Program to ensure that we're correctly protecting the wetland.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
---

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.