Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.39
Liaison Brian Liechti
Submission Date March 4, 2020

STARS v2.2

Warren Wilson College
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Margo Flood
Sustainability Project Coordinator
Finance and Administration
"---" 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:

Warren Wilson has undertaken an extensive stream restoration project. As part of this project, mitigated riparian buffers have been placed under conservation easement. These buffers are contiguous with the College's managed Farm 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:

Warren Wilson Inventory
•Gray bat (Myotis grisescens) - federally and state listed (NC) as endangered
•Mole Salamander- state listed as endangered species in NC
•Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) – state listed (NC) as endangered
•American ginseng (Panax quinquefolia) – state listed (NC) vulnerable

Bird List
Federally Threatened:
•wood stork (Mycteria americana)
NC State Endangered:
•peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
NC State Threatened:
•bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
NC State Species of Special Concern:
•Henslow's sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii)
•little blue heron (Egretta caerulea)
•least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
•red crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
•vesper sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
•cerulean warbler (Setophaga cerulea)
•golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
•brown creeper (Certhia americana)

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:

None have been found to be of unique or major significance

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

Random sampling of biota on campus is conducted by a variety of academic courses from ecology to wetland creation courses, biology courses, and more.

Botanical Inventories – annual and ongoing, observational

Bat Surveys – 2019/2020, mist netting and acoustic monitoring

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

Botanical Inventories are carried out annually by Biology faculty. Ecology, Conservation Biology and Forestry classes also survey biodiversity as part of coursework. The Forestry Crew includes biodiversity data in annual forest inventory work. These activities are conducted on the entire land base of the College (1050 acres). Bat Surveys are conducted in collaboration with Indiana State University and occur along the Swannanoa River corridor through the property.

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

Any impacts which compromise wildlife values are minimized. Landscape planning is done in consideration of property surrounding the campus so as to decrease fragmentation and maintain wildlife corridors and forest buffers. All agricultural and forestry operations occur only after consultation with faculty members who have conservation biology expertise, and we maintain riparian buffers. Wetlands and riparian zones are protected to minimize erosion and loss of wildlife habitat. The College has a wildlife and biodiversity management policy.Two wetlands have also been created by a Warren Wilson environmental studies class, which are ideal habitat for the Mole Salamander.

The 127-acre Broyles Ridge Compartment of the College Forest is “protected” from timber harvest. This is not to protect any specific area of unique biodiversity. The area is being allowed to progress into a state of later forest succession for teaching and research purposes.

In addition, Warren Wilson follows the principles of its Pattern Language for Native Biodiversity as follows:


Pattern Language on Native Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Fisheries
1. Because the rich biodiversity of Warren Wilson is integral to the environmental legacy of the college, because the earth is experiencing a steady decline of biodiversity, and because the Southern Appalachian area is one of the chief centers of biodiversity in the U.S., there is an imperative to conserve native biodiversity, fisheries, wildlife, and other genetic resources on Warren Wilson College property.
2. To guide these conservation and wildlife enhancement efforts there should be an ongoing effort to maintain a college-wide biodiversity and wildlife management plan that is integrated with other land management uses (farm, garden, forest, landscaping, archeological, recreation, development).
3. Because wetlands, ponds, streams, rivers, and riparian zones (vegetated buffer zones) have the greatest wildlife, fisheries, and biodiversity value, serve as migration corridors, and play an important role in maintaining water quality, conservation and enhancement of these areas will do the most to provide for biodiversity For these reason:
a. the college needs to adopt a no net loss of wetlands policy on its property. Wetlands and waters should be defined and protected by current federal standards. Wetlands are defined by having the following three attributes:
i. the substrate is predominantly undrained hydric soil.
ii. the substrate is nonsoil and is saturated with water or covered by shallow water at some time during the growing season of each year.
iii. at least periodically, the land supports predominantly hydrophytes.
b. riparian zones around college rivers, wet areas, streams, and ponds should be maintained or enhanced for conservation of biodiversity whenever possible but at widths appropriate to conditions.
c. erosion, sediment, and pollution control needs to receive high priority in and around campus streams, rivers, and ponds to protect water quality.
d. there should be no more permanent buildings in the 50 year floodplains of permanent streams.
e. efforts should be made to eliminate the use of streams by domestic animals.
4. The forest and agricultural lands are other integral areas for conservation of biodiversity, fisheries, and wildlife. For this reason, loss of acreage of forest and agricultural land on the WWC property should be minimized. Efforts to minimize sprawl, fragmentation, and areas of disturbance around built structures will also enhance conservation.
5. Because the forest is integral to biodiversity conservation efforts, forest management activities should work in consultation with appropriate faculty members who have conservation biology expertise. In general, the forest would best serve biodiversity, fisheries, and wildlife conservation as follows:
a. include a range of tree sizes, conditions (e.g., decayed and cavity-bearing along with living and straight), ages, structural complexity, native species, and mast bearing species.
b. retain brush piles, pits and mounds, native understory vegetation and fallen trees, logs, and branches especially in riparian zones to provide habitat for fungi, invertebrates, small mammals, lichens, mosses, reptiles and amphibians. This should be done as long as it does not cause undo fire risk.
c. hold the conservation of biodiversity, fisheries, and wildlife as the highest priority especially in riparian zones.
6. Because agricultural lands are integral to conservation efforts, agricultural management activities should work when appropriate in consultation with faculty members who have conservation biology expertise. In general, agricultural areas would best serve biodiversity, fisheries, wildlife, and other genetic resources conservation as follows:
a. purposeful conservation of agroecosystem (agricultural ecosystem) biodiverse environments. This includes both immediately useful species (such as cultivated crops, ofrages, livestock), as well as their wild and weedy relatives that may be growing nearby. Agricultural management systems should strive to link value-added farming with genetic conservation to effectively complement regional and national efforts to conserve agricultural biodiversity ex situ (e.g. in seed banks and genetic respositories). Some guiding principles regarding on-farm conservation include:
i. maintenance of a large and diverse variety/breed population structure and the record of selection criteria that is used on genetic stock.
ii. crops and livestock with wild, hybridizing or weedy relatives nearby are especially important for conserving rare genes and/or alleles.
b. careful conservation of edge (early successional vegetative habitat) when appropriate especially in wet areas. The creation of edge habitat on the agricultural and forest lands, should be considered carefully. The subject of edge habitat is complex and there is more than one kind of edge. Well placed edge can greatly enhance wildlife populations and biodiversity. Poorly placed edge can invite nest parasitism and destruction from midsized predators that penetrate into forest interiors. Some guiding principles regarding edge habitat include:
c. retention of fence row vegetation, hedgerows, and field margins when appropriate which can act as nesting areas, feeding zones, and migration corridors for small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and invertebrates.
d. retention of a variety of masting species (those that produce hard and soft fruits eaten by wildlife) to provide necessary food and cover.
7. Biodiversity conservation would best be served if a landscape level approach is used in long range planning. This means that planners should consider the Warren Wilson College property in relation to other property in the Swannanoa Valley as it gives attention to fragmentation, shape of its forest, wildlife corridors, buffering of forest areas, and protection of forest interior habitat.
8. Impacts which compromise wildlife values should be minimized. Wildlife should not generally be encouraged to be habituated to humans and human food and garbage. Dogs, cats, and domestic animals should be kept out of zones that are particularly important to wildlife.
9. Hunting is prohibited for all college lands and will be posted to insure the safety and recreation values of the campus.

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 for this report was gathered from the Dean of Land Resources. The Conservation Exchange, with more than 1,370 members, is an initiative of the College that seeks to create dialogue, model and promote best and innovative practices in land management for a changing climate. See Land Innovation Program in Program of Distinction section and Innovation section for more detailed information.

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.