|Submission Date||Feb. 27, 2019|
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
This credit is weighted more heavily for institutions that own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to any of the following:
Institutions may identify legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and regions of conservation importance using the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for Research & Conservation Planning, the U.S. Information, Planning, and Conservation (IPaC) decision support system, or an equivalent resource or study.
Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment
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?:
A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:
The areas under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Natural Areas include Brownfield Woods, CCDC/Collins Woods, Funk Forest, Hart Woods, Nanney Research Area, Phillips Tract, Richter Research Area, Rutan Research Area, Trelease Woods, Trelease Prairie and the Vermilion River Observatory site. Together, the sites comprise about 970 acres. All areas are available for nondestructive and limited manipulation studies and for class use by University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students. Only Phillips Tract is available for extensive on-site manipulation. The areas are also open to researchers at other Universities and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The areas are closed to the general public and to non-research related activities. For safety and preservation purposes, a permit from the Committee on Natural Areas office is required before research is initiated.
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?:
Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:
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 INAI uses a standard protocol of line transects for plants and point counts for birds/vertbrates.
Freshwater mussel monitoring uses annual or periodic searches following accepted search methods.
Most assessment type work is done by researchers as part of their own research following their own protocols.
Breeding bird surveys are done with a point count method.
A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:
* A couple of the sites are monitored by the INHS CTAP group as part of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI). These sites have been identified as high quality, native remnant sites.
* We did have a total plant survey done at the Vermilion River Observatory site in 1996. That yielded three State Endangered species of sedges. The species are not monitored, nor are wetland areas disturbed.
* We do have 4 State T&E freshwater mussel species between two of our sites and I do monitor them annually or periodically.
* We do have two Federal T&E species of freshwater mussels at one site that are part of an USFWS/INHS/IDNR led reintroduction program. They are monitored by the INHS malocology group.
* One former State threatened plant species is still annually monitored at one site even though it was de-listed several years back.
* One site is designated as a State of Illinois Important Birding Area as a result of long running breeding bird surveys (one of the longest, if not the longest, in the nation).
* We have a wide range of researchers who have utilized the sites since the first site was acquired in 1917. Although not a systematic assessment, it does add a constant stream of information about the sites.
* The unit relies upon the judgement of the Natural Areas Coordinator and Natural Areas Specialist to assess the ecological quality of the sites in general and oversee the use of the sites (both M.S level biologists). Assistance is also gained from faculty members on the Committee on Natural Areas. We do have copies of the IDNR T&E species, species of special concern and listed as in greatest need of conservation in the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.
* The Committee on Natural Areas is composed of 8 - 10 faculty and staff members with a range of expertise. The membership has retained an unusual degree of stability (just 5 Committee Chairman over a 97 year span) on purpose. The Committee tries to manage the sites for the long term, not relying on a single personality or the popularity of a given management regime as they come and go out of vogue.
A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:
The Committee on Natural Areas is responsible for maintaining and managing University of Illinois owned properties which have been acquired to enhance environmental/ecological research and education.
The role of the CNA is to provide and facilitate long-term research and teaching opportunities on University-owned properties. Sites are managed to protect both the integrity of the ecological systems and the biological research that takes place on them. Ten University areas are currently under the direct supervision of the Committee on Natural Areas.
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.