Oak Creek is OSU’s main waterway; it is the only stream, creek or river to pass through the Corvallis campus and 40% of its watershed lies on land managed by OSU. Numerous classes, undergrads, grad students and professors have used Oak Creek for research and experiential learning. It drains portions of the OSU McDonald-Dunn Research Forest and supplies irrigation water to OSU agricultural areas before emptying into the Mary’s River, which eventually feeds into the Willamette.
Due to the close connection of Oak Creek & OSU, it was welcome news when the City of Corvallis decided to include a stormwater improvement project near the Hindsale Wave Research Lab (past 35th Street on Jefferson) on Oak Creek as part of the 2011 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Originally proposed by the Water Action Team of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, this project hopes to improve the water quality of Oak Creek, create welcoming habitat for wildlife, engage students and community members, all while providing educational and research opportunities to students of all ages. Preliminary designs include bioswales, native plants, and artificial wetlands, with alterations to the site to provide public access. Signage, field trips and ongoing experiments would raise awareness and augment standard stormwater education.
Design work is slated to be complete by July 2011, while the project should be completed by July 2012. A total award of $200,000 will help fund this project and another stormwater improvement project. The City has been receptive to the idea of this being a collaborative project, and numerous students and student organizations, notably the Ecological Engineering Student Society, are working diligently to make sure this project is a success AND that they learn something in the process. Other classes are attempting to find ways to incorporate components of this project into their class or research work. Dixon Rec, who maintains the Challenge Course, has indicated their willingness to see this project succeed, and have proactively cleared invasive blackberries to prepare for construction. This project will improve the health of Oak Creek, encourage partnerships with OSU and other organizations, while giving students an opportunity to really learn about their creek. Sounds like a win-win-win!
For more information or to see how you can become involved, please contact Greg.