Protecting Threatened Species
The Conservation Program contributes to land use planning by:
- Developing University-wide conservation goals, assessments, and plans
- Advising the University of biological opportunities, conservation goals, and constraints during the early stages of land use planning efforts, and again when specific projects are being developed
- Collaborating with university groups to minimize environmental impacts of university operations
- Providing educational resources for Stanford staff and consultants whose activities many impact sensitive species or habitats
- Working with regulatory agencies and community groups for landscape-level environmental solutions
STANFORD HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN
Stanford worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife to prepare a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP aims to stabilize or increase the populations of covered species and provide Stanford with assurances that its long-term operation of the University complies with the Federal and State Endangered Species Acts. Stanford's HCP establishes a comprehensive conservation program that protects, restores, and enhances habitat areas; monitors and reports on covered species populations; and avoids and minimizes impacts on species and their habitats.
The Stanford Conservation Program is a science-based land management group. We combine the best available science, adaptive management, and our own research to responsibly manage the ecosystems and species we want to conserve.
The Stanford Conservation Program creates habitat enhancement projects that increase the abundance of biotic and abiotic features known to encourage the survival and recruitment of species of special conservation status, like the California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, and an intergrade population of San Francisco garter snake. The ephemeral ponds we created in the foothills near the start of the Stanford Dish trail are a great example. The ponds mimic the hydrologic dynamics and biotic community of vernal pools that were once abundant at lower elevations in the Bay Area and have now been eliminated through urban development. The pools provide important habitat for invertebrates as well as California tiger salamanders.
Other habitat enhancements focus on indirect benefits to special status species. Cover piles create refuge habitat for ground squirrels and other small mammals. Woody debris combined with underground mammal burrows create complex habitat and cover used by amphibian, reptile, and invertebrate species during the hot, dry summer months.
Other projects focus even less directly on special status species. Management targets are based on maintaining and restoring the diversity of native plant community types and the species within those plant community types through seeding, planting, and invasive species control. In collaboration with botanists from the Jasper Ridge Herbarium, the Conservation Program monitors plant communities and maintains active records of plant species and their distribution across Stanford lands. In recent years, the most significant and persistent challenge to the conservation of native plant communities is invasion by non-native species, in particular the spread of annual, eurasian grasses.
Although most of our effort is focused on lands dedicated to biological conservation and academic use, we support biological diversity in agricultural and heavily urbanized lands as well. For example, we planted a hedgerow along an agricultural lease comprised exclusively of native plants selected based on their value to pollinator species in collaboration with non-profit environmental groups.