Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 71.62
Liaison Michelle Perez
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of California, San Diego
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Michelle Perez
Sustainability Analyst
Facilities Management
"---" 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:

Scripps Coastal Reserve, established in 1965, occupies nearly one thousand acres in La Jolla, California ranging across a complex landscape including mesa top, coastal canyon and bluff, sandy beach, rocky intertidal, submerged coastal plain and deep submarine canyon. More info here: http://nrs.ucsd.edu/scripps.html

The San-Diego Scripps State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA) and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve (SMR) are marine protected areas that extend offshore from La Jolla in San Diego County on California’s south coast. They protect most of the unique Scripps Canyon branch of La Jolla's submarine canyon system and the southern-most natural California mussel bed. The areas encompass four distinct habitat zones; rocky reef, kelp forest, sandy flat, and deepwater canyon.

More info here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/MPAs


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:

Animal Species:
In order of federal/state protection status: coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia), yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), Orange-throated whiptail (Aspedoscelis hyperythra beldingi), Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii), Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

A total of eight additional sensitive animal species that were not observed during 2016-2017 biological surveys are considered to have a high potential to occur on campus. These include coastal whiptail (Aspidoscelis tigris stejnegeri), red diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber ruber), Coronado skink (Eumeces skitonianus interparietalis), San Diego horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillii), coast patch-nosed snake (Salvadora hexalepis virgultea), southern California rufous-crowned sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps canescens), northwestern San Diego pocket mouse (Chaetodipus fallax fallax), and San Diego desert woodrat (Neotoma lepida intermedia).

Plant Species:
In order of federal/state protection status: Nuttall’s scrub oak, San Diego barrel cactus, short-leaved duleya (Dudleya brevifolia), Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana ssp. torreyana), wart-stemmed ceanothus, ashy spike-moss (Selaginella cinerascens), California box-thorn, Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii), San Diego County sunflower (Bahiopsis laciniata), western dichondra (Dichondra occidentalis), and woolly seablite (Suaeda taxifolia)


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 campus harbors a wealth of biodiversity, much of which lies the protected Open Space Preserve. A total of 16 vegetation communities or land use types are mapped on campus. They include four wetland habitat types (southern willow scrub, mule fat scrub, herbaceous wetland, and disturbed wetland) and 12 upland habitat/land use types (beach, native grassland, maritime succulent scrub, southern maritime chaparral, southern coastal bluff scrub, Diegan coastal sage scrub, southern mixed chaparral, chaparral/eucalyptus woodland ecotone, non-native grassland, eucalyptus woodland, disturbed habitat, and urban/developed land).

In addition, a total of 205 plant species were observed on site during campus-wide biological surveys conducted in 2016, of which 117 (57 percent) were native species and 88 (43 percent) were non-native species. Ornamental species occurring within urban/developed land were not included in the species tally. A total of 94 animal species, including 15 invertebrate, one amphibian, four reptile, 69 bird, and five mammal species, were observed or detected on site during 2016 biological surveys.

Of these species, ten sensitive plant species were observed on campus in 2016, including Nuttall’s scrub oak (Quercus dumosa), San Diego barrel cactus (Ferocactus viridescens), Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana ssp. torreyana), wart-stemmed ceanothus (Ceanothus verrucosus), ashy spike-moss (Selaginella cinerascens), California box-thorn (Lycium californicum), Engelmann oak (Quercus engelmannii), San Diego County sunflower (Bahiopsis laciniata), western dichondra (Dichondra occidentalis), and woolly seablite (Suaeda
taxifolia). An eleventh species, short-leaved dudleya (Dudleya brevifolia), was not observed during 2016 surveys but has been documented on campus in previous surveys. Six sensitive animal species were detected on campus during 2016 and 2017 surveys: orange-throated whiptail (Aspedoscelis hyperythra beldingi), coastal California gnatcatcher, Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), yellow-breasted chat (Icteria virens), and yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia).

Note: "Special-status” species include those species that have been recognized by either federal or state resource management agencies or conservation organizations as having special management needs due to limited distribution, limited numbers, or significant population declines associated with natural or manmade causes. Special-status species include those designated as endangered, threatened, rare, protected, sensitive, or species of special concern according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Native Plant Society (CNPS), or applicable regional plans, policies, or regulations.


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

Surveys were conducted for vegetation mapping, general wildlife, rare plants, the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), and the federally and state endangered least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus). Prior to conducting biological field surveys, HELIX performed a review of aerial imagery and previous vegetation and sensitive resources mapping for UC San Diego conducted as part of the 2004 LRDP (HELIX 2004), as well as vegetation mapping and associated reports prepared for specific UC San Diego projects over the past several years. In addition, HELIX conducted a search of sensitive species databases for information regarding sensitive species known to occur within five miles of UC San Diego, including the USFWS species records (USFWS 2017), CDFW California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB; CDFW 2017a), and CNPS Electronic Inventory (CNPS 2017). General biological surveys of UC San Diego were conducted by HELIX in the spring, summer, and fall of 2016. Vegetation communities were mapped on a 1 inch = 200 feet scale aerial of UC San Diego. The campus was surveyed on foot and with the aid of binoculars. Plant and animal species observed or otherwise detected during the surveys were recorded and a full list of the species detected prepared. Animal identifications were made in the field by direct, visual observation or indirectly by detection of calls, burrows, tracks, or scat. Plant identifications were made in the field or in the lab through comparison with voucher specimens or photographs. The locations of special-status plant and animal species incidentally observed or otherwise detected were mapped. Coastal California gnatcatcher protocol surveys were conducted in 2016 following survey guidelines for the species prepared by the USFWS (1997). Least Bell's vireo surveys were conducted during the breeding season in April through July 2017 following the USFWS 2001 survey protocol (HELIX 2017). A total of 205 plant species were observed on UC San Diego during the 2016 biological surveys, of which 117 (57%) were native special and 88 (43%) were non-native species.


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

As part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for UC San Diego's 2018 Long Range Development Plan Update, the university worked with consultants to evaluate the potential for biological impacts associated with implementation of the proposed 2018 LRDP. The term “biological resources” refers to both botanical and wildlife communities on UC San Diego. For the purposes of this document, “special-status” species include those species that have been recognized by either federal or state resource management agencies or conservation organizations as having special management needs due to limited distribution, limited numbers, or significant population declines associated with natural or manmade causes. Special-status species include those designated as endangered, threatened, rare, protected, sensitive, or species of special concern according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Native Plant Society (CNPS), or applicable regional plans, policies, or regulations.

Helix Environmental Planning prepared a Biological Resources Technical Report. Surveys were conducted for vegetation mapping, general wildlife, rare plants, the federally threatened coastal California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), and the federally and state endangered least Bell’s vireo (Vireo bellii pusillus). Prior to conducting biological field surveys, HELIX performed a review of aerial imagery and previous vegetation and sensitive resources mapping for UC San Diego conducted as part of the 2004 LRDP (HELIX 2004), as well as vegetation mapping and associated reports prepared for specific UC San Diego projects over the past several years. In addition, HELIX conducted a search of sensitive species databases for information regarding sensitive species known to occur within five miles of UC San Diego, including the USFWS species records (USFWS 2017), CDFW California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB; CDFW 2017a), and CNPS Electronic Inventory (CNPS 2017). General biological surveys of UC San Diego were conducted by HELIX in the spring, summer, and fall of 2016. Vegetation communities were mapped on a 1 inch = 200 feet scale aerial of UC San Diego. The campus was surveyed on foot and with the aid of binoculars. Plant and animal species observed or otherwise detected during the surveys were recorded and a full list of the species detected prepared. Animal identifications were made in the field by direct, visual observation or indirectly by detection of calls, burrows, tracks, or scat. Plant identifications were made in the field or in the lab through comparison with voucher specimens or photographs. The locations of special-status plant and animal species incidentally observed or otherwise detected were mapped. Coastal California gnatcatcher protocol surveys were conducted in 2016 following survey guidelines for the species prepared by the USFWS (1997). Least Bell's vireo surveys were conducted during the breeding season in April through July 2017 following the USFWS 2001 survey protocol (HELIX 2017). A total of 205 plant species were observed on UC San Diego during the 2016 biological surveys, of which 117 (57%) were native special and 88 (43%) were non-native species.

Additional detail can be found at: http://physicalplanning.ucsd.edu/environmental/nrm.html


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

UC San Diego's integrated system of open space areas is collectively referred to as the Open Space Preserve, which covers approximately 335 acres. The four open space types on the UC San Diego campus consist of the Ecological Reserve, Restoration Lands, Urban Forest, and Historic Grove based on their resources present and constraints to development. Specifically, the Ecological Reserve contains the majority of native vegetation communities and sensitive plant species occurring on campus.

A Habitat Management Plan (HMP) was prepared for the management of the approximately 178.8-acre Ecological Reserve category of the Open Space Management Program. Because of the sensitivity of the biological resources present within the Ecological Reserve, and the higher level of protection afforded those lands by the LRDP, the HMP specifically addresses the preservation and long-term management of open space within the Ecological Reserve and expands upon the applicable management guidelines identified in the campus's LRDP. The main purpose of the HMP is to identify methods and means necessary to maintain and enhance habitat (and related wildlife) values of the Ecological Reserve in perpetuity. It defines methods and schedules to sustain habitat functions and values, determines the parties responsible for management activities, and identifies associated costs and the source of funding. The ultimate goal of the HMP is to preserve the functions and values, as well as long-term viability, of habitats within the Ecological Reserve, and the listed and sensitive species they support. Achieving this goal also will benefit and improve the quality of life for UC San Diego faculty, staff and students through the preservation of open space and the enhancement of a more diverse and balanced natural environment.

In addition, UC San Diego conducts environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for all development projects; CEQA requires assessment and mitigation for impacts to sensitive plant and animal species as well as habitat and water quality.

In 2010, UC San Diego implemented an Ecological Reserve Habitat Management Plan (HMP), which specifies long-term management and maintenance tasks such as habitat assessment surveys, exotic species removal, erosion control, and sensitive species surveys. The Open Space Management Program is not mitigation for UC San Diego-wide impacts, but is a framework for maintaining and enhancing the biological values of the UC San Diego open space areas. Four types of open spaces with distinct qualities of vegetation, topography, and geography occur on UC San Diego: canyons, steep slopes, native vegetation, and eucalyptus groves. This integrated system of open space areas is collectively referred to in the proposed 2018 LRDP as the Open Space Preserve. Formerly identified as the “UCSD Park” in the 2004 LRDP, the Open Space Preserve also denotes open spaces subject to special constraints on development. The four open space types on the UC San Diego campus consist of the Ecological Reserve, Restoration Lands, Urban Forest, and Historic Grove based on their resources and constraints to development. Because of the sensitivity of the biological resources present within the Open Space Preserve, the HMP was prepared to address the management of the resources in the Ecological Reserve. The HMP takes the Open Space Management Program one step farther by providing specific direction for the preservation and long-term management of the Ecological Reserve and expands upon the applicable management guidelines that were identified in the 2004 LRDP EIR. Implementation of the specific recommendations in the HMP would ensure that the habitat functions and values of the Ecological Reserve are maintained and protected over the long term. It should be noted that UC San Diego does not record conservation easements over mitigation areas on UC San Diego lands. However, UC San Diego is committed to implementing the Open Space Management Program and the HMP to protect the biological functions and values of the preserved lands within its jurisdiction in perpetuity.

Habitat Management Plan
A Habitat Management Plan was prepared for the management of the approximately 120-acre Ecological Reserve pursuant to the Open Space Management Program contained within the 2004 LRDP EIR. This plan takes the Open Space Management Program a step farther by providing specific direction for the preservation and long-term management of the Ecological Reserve and expands upon the applicable management guidelines identified in the LRDP. Given that UC San Diego does not record conservation easements over mitigation areas on campus lands, implementation of specific recommendations in the Habitat Management Plan ensures that the habitat functions and values of the Ecological Reserve are maintained and protected over the long term.

The following is an example of some but not all of the steps UC San Diego is taking:

Based on UC San Diego-wide biological inventories undertaken in 1989, 2001, and 2016, there was no substantial change in species composition on UC San Diego. While there is a low potential to find additional sensitive species on future development sites, it is recommended that additional surveys be undertaken at five-year intervals to document that sensitive species with potential to occur have not moved into one of these areas where the habitat is appropriate and to avoid potential significant impacts.

Relocation of San Diego barrel cactus from development areas to preserved areas.

Avoidance and minimization during project design.

Compensatory mitigation for impacted upland and wetland communities.

Measures to reduce indirect construction impacts related to water quality, fugitive dust, and errant impacts.

Measures to reduce indirect impacts following construction related to fire risk, water quality and runoff, invasive species, increased human activity, lights, etc.

Surveys for coastal California gnatcatcher and least Bell’s vireo, construction noise attenuation, and agency consultation; and avian nest surveys and avoidance.

Wetland delineation. Mitigation required for wetland impacts must incorporate a minimum 1:1 creation component to ensure no net-loss of these communities pursuant to the regulatory requirements, except in circumstances where 1:1 creation is not required by the wetland permitting authorities and the no net loss of functions and values directive is met through other types of approved mitigation. Wetland mitigation shall occur on- or off-UC San Diego through creation, restoration, enhancement, and/or preservation, or combination thereof, or through purchase of credits at an approved wetland mitigation bank.

The Natural Reserve System has installed signs, path edge markers, and post and cable exclusionary fencing to keep visitors away from sensitive bluff and canyon habitat. The Reserve Manager and Steward patrol as possible. An arrangement with the neighboring La Jolla Farms Security Association allows the upland area to be closed at night.

Coastal Protection
The La Jolla Community Plan identifies many goals, policies, and recommendations for development within the Coastal Zone. The Local Coastal Program was adopted by the San Diego City Council in 1982 and certified by the California Coastal Commission in 1983. The policies and recommendations of the 1985 La Jolla – La Jolla Shores Local Coastal Program have been incorporated into the 2014 La Jolla Community Plan, along with the La Jolla Shores Precise Plan (1972), and the Fay Avenue Plan (1980) (City of San Diego 2014). The following general community goal is addressed in the 2014 La Jolla Community Plan and Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan: Conserve and enhance the natural amenities of the community such as its views from identified public vantage points, open space, hillsides, canyons, ocean, beaches, bluffs, wildlife, and natural vegetation and achieve a desirable relationship between the natural and developed components of the community.

The following Natural Resources and Open Space System goal is identified in the 2014 La Jolla Community Plan and Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan and would pertain to areas adjacent to SIO, including the views from La Jolla Shores Drive: Maintain the public views to and from the natural amenities of La Jolla in order to achieve a beneficial relationship between the natural or unimproved and developed areas of the community.


Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
28

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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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.