Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.48
Liaison Amy Brunvand
Submission Date Oct. 21, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Utah
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Amy Brunvand
Office of 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?:

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

Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area (RNA), 5,370 acres
A complete, intact watershed land montane ecosystem located in the Wasatch Mountain foothills east of the University of Utah. In 1969, the U.S. Forest Service designated Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area, one of the last remaining undisturbed basins in the Great Basin. In accordance with Forest Service regulations, the RNA is closed to public entry. Research and education within the Red Butte Canyon RNA are allowed, but there are a number of restrictions. Permits are required for all activities within the RNA, including one-time field trips.

Red Butte Creek
Red Butte Creek watershed basin encompasses 11 square miles in the Wasatch Mountains foothills and feeds 10.5 miles of stream that flows through the Red Butte Canyon RNA, Red Butte Garden and the University of Utah campus on its way to the Jordan River. In 2014, the Board of Trustees voted to establish a 100 ft. riparian corridor buffer zone around Red Butte Creek. The creek is part of a protected watershed managed by Salt Lake County.

University of Utah Heritage Preserve, 492 acres
The University of Utah, with the assistance of Utah Open Lands, has signed a conservation easement to preserve undeveloped land bordering the eastern edge of the University of Utah and Research Park. Under the agreement, the University and the general public will have access to the Heritage Preserve for hiking, non-motorized biking, photography, and nature study. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail passes through the Preserve.
URL: https://www.utahopenlands.org/u-of-u-heritage

Bonneville Shoreline Trail, 3.3 miles adjacent to University of Utah campus
The Bonneville Shoreline Trail concept began in 1990 as an effort to preserve a heavily used mountain biking, jogging, and walking pathway along the urban/wild interface in the Wasatch Mountain foothills. By 1992 the University of Utah agreed to a recreation corridor to connect through Research Park and the University Medical Center area to Dry Creek Canyon to the North. University of Utah trailheads include, Dry Creek Trailhead, Red Butte Creek Road Trailhead, and Emigration Canyon Trailhead.
URL: http://bonnevilleshorelinetrail.org/

Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa, 380 acres
Established in 2008. Located along almost three miles of Dolores River in southeastern Utah, Provides opportunities for field-based interdisciplinary research, education, and other academic pursuits that emphasize ecology and the environment, human-environment interaction, or sustainable living on the Colorado Plateau.
URL: http://riomesa.utah.edu/

Taft Nicholson Center for Environmental Humanities, 16 acres
The Center in Montana’s Centennial Valley provide an opportunity to with intact ecological systems in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
URL: https://taft-nicholson.utah.edu/

Range Creek Field Station, 3,027 acres
An outdoor museum located in Utah’s West Tavaputs Plateau, with over 500 archeological sites dating from A.D.900-A.D. 1200. Range creek represents an exceptional intact mid-elevation watershed. Access to the Range Creek Field Station is administered by the Natural History Museum of Utah and is limited to pedestrian and horse traffic.
URL: https://nhmu.utah.edu/range-creek-field-station

State Arboretum of Utah/ Red Butte Garden and Arboretum , 1,647 acres
The University of Utah campus, including Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, is part of the State Arboretum of Utah which covers 1,500 acres to the east of the University of Utah campus, plus an additional 147 acres that includes the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum. The Arboretum was established in 1961 and includes over 8,000 trees of 300 different species. Red Butte Garden and Arboretum (100 acres) is part of the University of Utah. About 75 acres of the garden are natural lands, and 25 acres are designated for gardens and facilities.
URL: http://www.redbuttegarden.org/

Matheson Nature Preserve and Governors Groves (14 acres, Utah State Parks)
Adjacent to Research Park, managed by Scott M. Matheson Park Foundation. This urban nature preserve contains trees and vegetation present in the Salt Lake Valley when the pioneers arrived in 1847. Along the extensive walking paths, visitors encounter native vegetation such as Big Sagebrush, Pinyon Pine, Hawthorn, Wild Roses, Rabbitbrush, and Chokecherry trees.
URL: http://static.stateparks.utah.gov/docs/mathesonparkbrochurefront.pdf

This is the Place Heritage Park , 450 acres
Owned by Utah State Parks and managed as a "Heritage Park," emphasizing cultural heritage. Since 1998, Park management has been outsourced to This Is The Place Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Due to privatized management, planning documents are not currently available on the stateparks.utah.gov website
URL: http://www.thisistheplace.org/

Wasatch Mountain Foothills Open Space (U.S. Forest Service, Salt Lake Ranger District)
Vast acreage of U.S. National Forest Service (USFS) property lies to the east of Salt Lake City adjacent to the University of Utah. The USFS property is typically steep, mountainous terrain accessible only by foot trails. Wasatch Mountain Foothills provide an important habitat for wildlife and critical winter range for mule deer. Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County planning supports keeping this property in public ownership, undeveloped, with pedestrian access. The 216,000 acres comprising the Salt Lake Ranger District are often referred to as an "urban forest" due to their close proximity to Salt Lake City, the Intermountain west's largest and fastest growing metropolitan area. The mountainous terrain provides recreation opportunities for more than a million people in less than a 30 minute drive. 60% of the drinking water for Salt Lake City residents comes from land managed by the Salt Lake Ranger District under the "Wasatch-Cache National Forest Plan (2003).
URL: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/uwcnf/recarea/?recid=8982

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:

June sucker (Chasmistes liorus)
IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered; ESA: Listed as Endangered in 1986.
Since 2004 Red Butte Reservoir has hosted a refuge population of June sucker, (Chasmistes liorus) a unique lake sucker native to Utah Lake. June suckers have been proposed for reclassification to Threatened; (84 FR 65080 (11/26/2019)- Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Endangered June Sucker to Threatened with a Section 4(d) Rule. https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/FR-2019-11-26/2019-25549 )

Bonneville Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah),
A native western subspecies historically found in the Bonneville Basin, and designated as the state fish of Utah. Until February 28, 1996, Bonneville cutthroat trout were considered candidate species for Federal listing. They are managed under a Utah Division of Natural Resources “Range-wide conservation agreement and strategy for Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah), 2000 in order to “eliminate the threats to Bonneville cutthroat trout that: (1) warrant listing as a sensitive species by state and Federal agencies, and (2) may warrant listing as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.” After a 2010 oil spill, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources re-stocked Red Butte Creek with Bonneville cutthroat trout.

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:

Salt Lake City Campus Habitats
• Wasatch Mountains: Gambel oak, sagebrush, grassland, urban habitats, riparian (Red Butte Creek)
• Gambel oak (Quercus gambeli), Old growth groves of Gambel oak grow in the University of Utah Heritage Preserve, Red Butte Canyon RNA, and Research Park.
• Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), The University of Utah campus includes winter range for the Red Butte Mule Deer population. Red Butte Garden and Arboretum is surrounded by a high fence designed to exclude mule deer.

Bonderman Field Station Habitats
• Colorado Plateau; Blackbrush/saltbrush, Pinyon-juniper, Grassland, Riparian (Dolores River)

Range Creek Field Station
• Tavaputs Plateau: sagebrush, grassland, Riparian (Range Creek)

Taft-Nicholson Center
• Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

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

Wasatch Environmental Observatory
The Wasatch Environmental Observatory (WEO) integrates existing fixed and mobile field-based research infrastructure in the region surrounding the University of Utah into a world-class distributed observational facility that supports hydrological, meteorological, atmospheric, ecological, and related environmental research and training. Some of the observational resources integrated into WEO include infrastructure supported by the NSF-funded iUTAH project.
URL: https://environment.utah.edu/weo/

Red Butte Canyon RNA
The University of Utah offers courses in Biology, Ecology, Geology, and Meteorology with lab experiences involving the Red Butte Canyon RNA. These courses have generated flora and fauna lists, weather stations, hydrological data, GIS shape files. Lists of flora and fauna are at https://redbuttecanyon.net/

University of Utah Heritage Preserve
Utah Open Lands conducted a Baseline Documentation Report prior to signing a conservation easement in 2002.

State Arboretum of Utah/ Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
Conducts conservation research focusing on the flora of the Intermountain West, with a particular focus on two ecoregions in Utah - the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin.

Range Creek Field Station
Beginning in 2011, the Field Station has coordinated monitoring studies designed to provide quantitative baseline data on vegetation and the stream/riparian zone. Methodologies: transects, Riparian Managment Technical Reference 1737-15 protocol. The Department of Geography is tracking environmental change in Range Creek.

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

Red Butte RNA: Ongoing by Wasatch Environmental Observatory and student research. Information about the canyon, including geology, hydrology, climate, and flora and fauna is available at https://redbuttecanyon.net/

Red butte Creek: Ongoing By Wasatch Environmental Observatory and student research. U of U has developed a "Red Butte Creek Strategic Vision,"(2018), attached.

Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa 2019 Bird Banding Report
URL: https://riomesa.utah.edu/_documents/bandingstation/RMSA%202019%20report.pdf

University of Utah Heritage Preserve: One time, 2002.

State Arboretum/ Red Butte Garden: Ongoing.

Range Creek Field Station: Upland vegetation and riparian studies in 2011 & 2013.

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

Wasatch Environmental Observatory
Partners with management agencies and stakeholders in order to catalyze the design of solutions for pressing sustainability challenges on the Wasatch Front.

U.S. Forest Service Research Natural Area Network
Research Natural Area designation is used by federal land management agencies to preserve a representative array of significant natural ecosystems.

Utah Open Lands Conservation Easement
On April 18, 2002, the U of U and Utah Open Lands signed a conservation easement to “preserve and maintain as natural and open space.

Salt Lake County Watershed Planning and Restoration Program
On February 6, 1978, with the completion of the Area-Wide Water Quality Management Plan, Salt Lake County Government was designated the regional water quality planning authority. Red Butte Creek falls within this jurisdiction.
URL: https://slco.org/watershed/

Salt Lake City Foothill Trails Master Plan
Salt Lake City is developing a trails master plan for the Wasatch Mountain foothills, including the Bonneville Shoreline trail and other spur trails that cross University of Utah natural areas.
URL: https://www.slc.gov/parks/trailsplan/

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:


Hanson, Jenelle, "Embedded in Nature," @TheU [Blog], February 20, 2017.


Ehlringer, Jim, Shaun Daniel, Sylvia Torti, Brenda Bowen, Tom Parks, Embedded in Nature: The University of Utah Field Stations, University of Utah (2016).

Salt Lake County, Stream Care Guide: A Handbook for Residents of Salt Lake County. (2015).
URL: https://slco.org/globalassets/1-site-files/watershed/resources/streamcareguide_2015.pdf

University of Utah, “Red Butte Creek Strategic Vision,” Red Butte Creek Strategic Vision Steering Committee,(2018).
URL: https://redbuttecreek.utah.edu/strategic-vision/

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. Range-wide conservation agreement and strategy for Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki utah), UDWR Publication Number 00-19 (2000)
URL: https://digitallibrary.utah.gov/awweb/awarchive?item=66072

Wasatch-Cache Revised Forest Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (2003) USDA Forest Service.
URL: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/uwcnf/landmanagement/planning/?cid=stelprdb5076923&width=full

Utah Museum of Natural History,
--Lower Range Creek 2011 Riparian Study Report
--Lower Range Creek 2013 Riparian Study Report
--Range Creek Upland Monitoring Report, July 12-113, 2011
--Range Creek Upland Monitoring Report, 2013
URL: https://nhmu.utah.edu/upland-and-riparian-monitoring-reports

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.