Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 76.71
Liaison Gioia Thompson
Submission Date Feb. 6, 2023

STARS v2.2

University of Vermont
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Gioia Thompson
Sustainability Strategist
UVM 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:

UVM has taken the responsibility of identifying and protecting lands that are priority sites for biodiversity. In 1974, The University of Vermont Board of Trustees established the University of Vermont Natural Areas System under its Environmental Program. Since then, the Board recognized UVM’s responsibility and leadership in the identification, protection, and management of important natural areas in the State of Vermont. The resolution passed by the Board states “that these University-owned lands be preserved to the greatest extent possible in their natural state and be used for educational and scientific purposes insofar as such uses are compatible with the preservation of their natural character.” The Board also approved a series of regulations for the use and management of these natural areas (see appendices in supporting documents for this submission i.e., University of Vermont Natural Areas Baseline Report and Work Plan and the individual general management plan for each natural area) and hired the first natural area manager in 1985 to oversee the day-to-day operations and the long-term planning and stewardship of the system. Initially, the position was funded by both UVM and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) who played a significant role in the acquisition of several natural areas. This began a collaboration between UVM and TNC that continues to this day. Additional partnerships have developed with local governments, state and federal agencies, and other conservation organizations (e.g., The Vermont Land Trust).

Presently, UVM owns and stewards ten (10) protected natural areas totaling over 2,250 acres of protected land. These areas represent some of the finest examples of Vermont’s natural heritage, from high elevation alpine ecosystems to lowland wetlands, lakeshores, and forests. The Vermont Land Trust holds conservation easements on Centennial Woods and Carse Wetlands. The Nature Conservancy has placed legal language on land that they conveyed to UVM at Shelburne Pond and Colchester Bog. Mount Mansfield and Molly Bog are both designated National Natural Monuments. The remaining four sites, East Woods, Redstone Quarry, Pease Mountain, and Concord Woods have administrative protection, i.e., UVM Board of Trustees designation, and are zoned at the local level as conservation/open space lands.

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:

For an overview of the species with habitats on land owned or managed by UVM, please see the "UVM Natural Areas Master Species List.xlsx" file uploaded as supporting documentation below.

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:

All the protected areas owned and managed by UVM were bought or accepted as a donation because of their unique natural characteristics and biodiversity importance. Read the brief description of the 10 protected areas listed below. These natural areas have unique flora, fauna and biodiverse ecosystems from this region of the United States.

Brief description of each of these protected areas:

1. Carse Wetland Natural Area - The 225.4 acres property in Hinesburg, VT, is a mix of open agricultural fields, wetlands and forests. The eastern side of the property is landlocked and contains a collection of significant ecological features that include upland and wetland natural communities, and a number of rare plants. The Vermont Land Trust placed a conservation easement on the land prior to being conveyed to UVM to insure its perpetual protection as well as public access. UVM also has the collaboration of Hinesburg Land Trust and Hinesburg Trails Committee, among others.

2. Centennial Woods - This 70 acres property has mature conifer stands, mixed hardwoods, wetlands, and riparian habitat along several brooks that flow through the area. It is located within the city limits of Burlington and South Burlington. It was designated as a natural area by the Board of Trustees in 1974. In 1994 it was officially designated with a conservation easement to the Vermont Land Trust. Along the Vermont Land Trust, UVM has partnership for the protection of Centennial Woods with the City of Burlington Conservation Commission and the City of Burlington Natural Resources Committee.

3. Colchester Bog Natural Area - This is a 180 ace property along the shoreline of Lake Champlain. It’s a wetland located at a sandy peninsula between the lake and Malletts Bay. It contains peatland, cattail marshes, a diversity of shrub and tree that dominates the swamps, open water areas along the perimeter called lags, and upland sand dunes and woodland habitat. A small sand dune site along the southern edge is managed for several state-listed endangered plants. The size and ecological complexity of the Colchester Bog Natural Area makes it one of the most significant wetland ecosystems in Vermont. It attracts dendrology and paleoecology interests because of its diversity of trees and shrubs and deep peat deposits. The Nature Conservancy was acquired by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in 1973 and TNC conveyed it to UVM at no cost with the condition to be managed appropriately. Also, UVM has partnership with Colchester Parks and Recreation Department, Vermont Nongame and Natural Heritage Program and Winooski Valley Parks District, among others, to manage this natural area property.

4. Concord Woods Natural Area - This is a 100 acres of mature hardwood on the southwest slope of Miles Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom town of Concord, VT. Although logged in the past, this natural area do not show recent disturbances with sugar maple, beech, and birch trees reaching considerable size relative to the surrounding forests. These qualities make Concord Woods an ideal site for long-term research and monitoring projects that require undisturbed and protected northern forest ecosystems. In 1974 was designated a natural area by the Board of Trustees and it has been protected from logging by UVM since then (there has been sustained extensive clear-cut logging around Concord Woods in the recent past). The Vermont Center for Ecostudies has been studying the resident forest breeding bird population in the area. Since the mi-1990 scientists from theUS Forest Service and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation have done ecological-related research work in Concord Woods.

5. East Wood Natural Area - This is a 40-acre property is an entirely forested landscape with a mix of hardwood stands of sugar maple, beech and oak and white pine/hemlock forests, with riparian and in-stream habitat along Potash Brook. It was designated a protected natural area in 1974. It as been identified as an important green space for the city of South Burlington and it appears as such in the city maps. Important UVM partners for this property are South Burlington Natural Resources Committee, and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Stormwater Unit.

6. Molly Bog Natural Area - This 35-acre relatively undisturbed property is located in Stowe Valley in the town of Morristown and is an excellent example of northeastern kettlehole bog with an open water zone surrounded by an open mat and lowland and upland forest. It is considered a relict of the last glacial epoch. It exhibits the classical bog landscape with a two-acre darkly stained pool in the middle directly bordered by a leatherleaf necklace, itself surrounded by a sedge and sphagnum mat dotted with other heath shrubs, the occasional orchid, and groups of pitcher plants. The outlying bog forest dominated by tamarack and black spruce frames the area and contributes to its boreal feel and sense of antiquity. The area is being managed to protect this important example of kettlehole bog ecosystem. It was first purchased for protection by the Vermont Bird and Botanical Club and then it was conveyed to UVM by The Nature Conservancy. Molly Bog is listed on the State of Vermont Fragile Areas Registry and it is designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. The National Park Service also classifies it as a threatened landmark due to logging and other human activities in the area.

7. Mount Mansfield Natural Area - This 400-acre in Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest elevation mountain at 4,393ft, contains the Vemont’s most extensive and diverse complex of alpine natural communities. It is also surrounded by one of Vermont’s most popular recreational areas. Alpine meadows are along the ridgeline. These meadows communities are often found interspersed with exposed bedrock outcrops and subalpine krummholz. The natural area also have three small (less than one acre) alpine peatlands, which is the only known of this community type in Vermont. These peatlands occur in shallow depressions in the bedrock where moisture has accumulated and is retained, even during periods of droughts. The University acquire these natural area from Stowe in 1857 for scientific purposes. The ridgeline is listed on the State of Vermont Fragile Areas Registry and has been designed as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. As a prominent mountain in Vermont, Mount Mansfield is also an important area for telecommunication facilities. Currently, there are three major communication facilities on the mountain. The Vermont Center for Ecostudies has been conducting breeding bird research on Mount Mansfield for 15 years. Through the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative, other researchers working in the area have been climate scientists, soil scientists, entomologists, and forest ecologists. UVM, in partnership with these two organizations, is seeking to establish a science and stewardship research program and facility in the current vacated Summit Station building located on the ridgeline of the mountain.

8. Pease Mountain Natural Area - This 180-acre prominent hill (800 ft) in Charlotte above the Champlain Valley is covered by mesic and dry hardwood forests. The mesic forest occupies the lower slopes and is dominated by sugar maple, red oak, beech and hickory. The dry forest is at or near the summit and it supports a stunted assemblage of hop-hornbeam, hickory, red oak and butternut. Scattered are calcareous rock outcrops. Assorted lichen and mosses with unusual flora are part of the value and fragile nature of these community types. UVM has a cooperative education and stewardship program in this natural area with teachers and students at the Charlotte Central School. The interesting forest communities and geological features make it a popular site for forestry and geology studies. The Vermont Center for Ecostudies use the site for their ornithologists’ forest breeding survey research.

9. Redstone Quarry Natural Area -This 3-acre property is located in a suburban neighborhood within the city of Burlington. It was used as a quarry for over 100 years, and it is now noted for illustrating how rocks are formed through deposition and layering. Geologists from UVM (i.e., UVM Geologist Department) and other universities or colleges in the region use the area to study these processes and to observe other interesting geological features (e.g., ancient ripple marks in the rock revealing that a shoreline once existed there). It has a small wetland with associated aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna at the base of the quarry cliff face.

10. Shelburne Pond Natural Area - Since 1973 UVM, with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, has been acquiring land and manages around 1,000 acres around the Shelburne Pond (a relatively large pond of 432 acres). It is one of the largest remaining undeveloped ponds in the Champlain Valley, located at 8 miles from UVM and Burlington. It has been protected as the H. Lawrence Achilles Natural Area at Shelburne Pond. Mr. Achilles provided the funds for land acquisition. The Nature Conservancy matains this funds and acquires land when it comes available. It then transfers the land to UVM with the condition of appropriate management for conservation. Approximately, 80% of the pond’s shoreline has been protected. The acres UVM manages include extensive wetlands and upland habitat with considerable natural community and species diversity. Wetlands include cattail marshes, shrub and tree dominated swamps, wet sedge meadows and bogs. The upland habitat is typical of the region with mixed hardwood forest of maple, beech and oak, with cedar limestone bluffs along the eastern shoreline. The area has also some important archeological sites. Researchers from UVM started an aquatic monitoring program, are involved in habitat restoration efforts along the shore, and conduct annual “bioblitz” species inventory events.

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

The data collected for endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance were collected in a different way for each report and natural area. The professors and/or graduate students that did the research or the consultants or consulting company hired (see additional documentation) used different approaches and methodologies. For example, the attached document for Carse Wetlands is from an outside environmental consulting company who was hired to assess many aspects of the property upon the Carse property’s acquisition by UVM. As part of their report, the consultants included a brief section about the rare plants found on the property during their inspection.

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

This report is a conglomeration of appendices from various research papers, scientific reports, surveys, and books found in the UVM Natural Areas Archive. This report was created in such a fashion because there is no all-inclusive rare and endangered species list or report for the UVM Natural Areas System. Not every UVM Natural Area has a corresponding species list; some UVM Natural Areas have many species lists. Only the most expansive species lists for each Natural Area were chosen for this report.

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

Each of UVM’s protected natural areas has a general individual Management Plan as part of UVM’s Natural Areas System under the UVM Natural Areas Baseline Report and Work Plan of September 2014. These general plans include: locations, ecological and site characteristics and description, driving directions, acquisition and protection history, current conditions, a list of management needs, a list of current seasonal and management activities, a list of stakeholders and/or partnerships, and references. See additional documentation.

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:
Data source(s) and notes about 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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.