VANCOUVER, Wash. – Improved management of water, landscaping and runoff by Washington State University Vancouver is contributing to restoration of Mill Creek. The ongoing progress, along with restoration of the creek, earned WSU Vancouver the Salmon Safe campus designation in 2010.
The campus sits on a large tract of former farmland. The sloping contours and gullies channel water to Mill Creek, a tributary of Salmon Creek. WSU Vancouver facilities crews have worked with the public to improve the campus’ unique water feature.

“The mission of Salmon Safe is to have the water that’s entering the campus leave either in a neutral state or a better state then it came into campus,” said John Benson, grounds and nursery service specialist.

He said efforts to rehabilitate areas of campus have been going on for years, but the Salmon Safe distinction is giving more attention to the project.

From bank stabilization to removing noxious plants, Benson said the efforts will pay off in the long run.

“It’s paramount … to show that we are able to be stewards … and do something positive for the environment above and beyond our practices of the past,” he said.

In addition to demonstrating stewardship, WSUV also is in a unique position to educate others about it, Benson said. School groups regularly come to the creek to help clean, while learning about ecology in the process, he said.

“It’s about getting together with these groups that are already doing portions … and trying to focus here – the place we work,” he said.