Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.29
Liaison Ezra Small
Submission Date Feb. 17, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Massachusetts Amherst
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Ezra Small
Sustainability Manager
Physical Plant
"---" 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?:

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

The main campus of UMass Amherst is located directly adjacent to multiple protected conservation areas managed by the Town of Amherst and the The Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program. These lands can be found on the Amherst Property Viewer located here: https://gis.amherstma.gov/public/Viewer.aspx.

These lands include:
Wildwood Conservation Area (https://www.wildwoodconservationarea.ca/)
Robert K. Patterson Conservation Area, aka Cherry Lane (https://www.amherstma.gov/1293/Passive-Recreation)
Wysocki APR Land
Cherewatti Trustees APR Land
Wagner Life Estate APR Land

The campus is also adjacent to priority sites for biodiversity defined as "core habitat" and "critical natural landscape" and small parcels of "permanently projected Open Space" identified in the MA BioMap, a Massachusetts statewide mapping tool used for conservation planning. These lands exist directly to the west of the main Amherst campus along the Mill River in Hadley, MA.

More about BioMap:

BioMap guides strategic protection and stewardship of lands and waters that are most important for conserving biological diversity in Massachusetts. MassWildlife and The Nature Conservancy released the newly-updated BioMap tool in November 2022. The BioMap web portal delivers the latest scientific data and resources to help state and local governments, land trusts, non-government organizations, and other conservation partners strategically plan projects to conserve wildlife and their habitats. The latest version of BioMap combines more than 40 years of rigorously documented rare species and natural community records from MassWildlife with cutting-edge climate resilience data from The Nature Conservancy and spatial data identifying intact fish and wildlife communities, habitats, and ecosystems that are the focus of the Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan.

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?:

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:

Plant and Animal Species:
In 2019 during the MS4 Stormwater reporting process, the institution reported the following species have been found on campus:
• The Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis): Threatened
• The Small Whorled Pogonia (Isotria medeoloides): Threatened
• There are no listed critical habitats at this time

Animal Species:
UMass Wildlife Camera Trap project Species list (all listed as "least concern")
American Black Bear
Blue Jay
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Northern Raccoon
Red Fox
Striped skunk
Tufted Titmouse
White-tailed Deer
Wild Turkey
Virginia opossum
Eastern chipmunk
Red squirrel
Eastern cottontail

See methodology in this credit "Methodologies" section.

Tree Species:
UMass employs Urban Forestry Doctoral students who have worked as campus inventory arborists to develop a searchable/exportable campus tree inventory (https://umass-amherst.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6b6bab7d2726462694bafbcc337cd981). This inventory includes a list of over 500 tree species and cultivars with conservation status designated. This inventory is attached below as supporting documentation. This list includes 13 tree species present on the campus that are listed as "critically endangered", 15 tree species that are listed as "endangered", 1 species listed as "extinct in the wild" and the rest listed as "least concern."

Bird Species:
The UMass Dubois Library has resident peregrine falcons (state status: special concern) nesting on the roof of the building since 2003. The most well known pair, which nested on the Library roof from 2003-2014, hatched a total of 37 chicks. There is a live "falcon-cam" that the UMass community is extremely proud of and is a collaboration among UMass Amherst Office of the Vice Chancellor Research & Engagement; UMass Amherst Physical Plant Division; UMass Amherst Information Technology (IT), Library Technology Systems, and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), and private donors. Most recently, 2019 – We installed the camera on May 6 and found 2 newly-hatched chicks. They were both banded on June 4 – male BU 69 and female BV 77 – and fledged successfully in mid-June.

In the eBird Hot Spot map (https://ebird.org/hotspots), the UMass campus has 6 hot spot locations mapped totaling over 400 bird species logged.

Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

Prexy's Ridge Forest: Prexy‘s Ridge Forest is an old growth forest on the westward steep slope southeast of the intersection of Eastman Lane and North Pleasant Street. Part of the Waugh Arboretum, the Forest is a unique educational, research, and recreational asset for the campus and should be preserved.

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

UMass assessed whether any endangered species, threatened species or critical habitat can be found on our main campus and at our Mt Ida campus as part of the covered MS4 areas. In 2018 the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Information for Planning and Consultation” (IPaC) online system was utilized to determine if we have any endangered species, threatened species or critical habitat on our campus for the NOI. The IPaC website can be found at: http://ecos.fws.gov/ipac/

UMass Environmental Health and Safety will review this annually.
The last review date: June 28, 2019

The UMass Wildlife Camera Trap project is an undergraduate driven wildlife monitoring project that collects wildlife occurrence data using trail cameras located along the wildland-urban interface within the Town of Amherst. A total of 40 unbaited camera traps (Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Aggressor, No-Glow Trail Camera, model #119776C) were deployed year-round starting 2016 to present day. Camera locations were selected to represent three unique habitat types present within the town of Amherst: conservation lands, suburban/residential and urban. Each camera was attached to a tree using a cable and lock approximately 2 feet from the ground to capture images about 5 m away. Cameras were occasionally placed near game trails at 45-degree angles if present and always facing away from human trafficked trails or residential areas. Cameras were set to automatically take three pictures when triggered by motion at an interval of 60 seconds between detections. Images are stored on an SD card and downloaded to an external hard drive for species identification using CPW Warehouse and Wildlife Insights.

This list (above) of wildlife species represents animal species that were detected at least once during 2017-2022 at one or more of the 5 trail cameras located on the University of Massachusetts, Amherst campus. These five camera traps are located at the following sites on campus: ECO 2 (Athletic Fields North), ECO 4 (Stadium Drive, Track and Field), ECO 28 (Chancellor’s Drive), ECO 40 (Umass South Entrance) and ECO 41 (Arthur F. Kinney Renaissance Center).

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

The scope of the EH&S assessment for the annual MS4 reports include plants and animal species.

The scope of the UMass Wildlife Camera Trap project includes animals.

The scope of the arboretum inventory assessments is just trees.

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

Every time we go to build a new building, the process always includes the consideration for the preservation of wildlife habitats. Preservation of wildlife habitat is rooted deep in the culture of planning at UMass Amherst. The UMass Amherst Extension Citizen Planner Training Collaborative program offers resources for developing bi-laws in local governments for wildlife habitat protection (see link below).


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

Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Campus Sustainability Manager, Ezra Small worked with faculty member Paige Warren (Professor and Dept. Head in Environmental Conservation) to request assessment data from multiple researchers and land use experts among our faculty to respond to this credit for this report. We know there are more wildlife assessment studies happening at UMass that we did not include in this report but these contacts did not all respond to our data request. We hope to include more info in the future.

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.