- Green Building
- Natural Features
- Planning & Policy
Natural Features and Landscaping
OSU has embarked on several focused efforts to reduce its impact on Oak Creek, one of the area's most significant natural features. The two primary areas of concentration are the main campus (30th St. to 35th St. reach) and the Department of Animal Sciences' livestock facilities (generally west of the OSU Dairy Center).
Although recent reports have rated riparian functions in the 30th to 35th St. reach as "nearly fully functioning" to "fully functioning", there are improvements still to be made including:
- Removing invasive species like Himalayan blackberry and English ivy
- Reforesting certain areas of the corridor
- Reconnecting the floodplain
- Appropriately treating and buffering stormwater discharge into the creek
With these improvements and others, study opportunities abound. Study zones along the creek can be designated for students to evaluate various restoration and protection methods, study riparian function and monitor stream improvements.
OSU's Dept. of Animal Sciences recently announced the start of a yearlong project to restore and protect areas of the creek that wind through livestock facilities. Supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the project will create wildlife habitat and riparian buffers along more than five miles of streams that include Oak Creek and its tributaries.
Animal facilities include the horse, sheep, swine, and dairy centers with plans to expand it into Soap and Berry Creek ranches and protect a different water system there. The properties are diverse and plans differ according to needs but the principals are the same:
- Selectively clear understory to remove undesirable species while keeping as many natives as possible.
- Build fences to keep livestock out of the waterways.
- Plant oak and ash species (22,000 planned).
- Provide continued maintenance by keeping noxious weeds and invasives controlled and irrigating trees during establishment.
- Where livestock can no longer access the creek for drinking water, watering sites will be established.
- In some places new stream crossings must be established. Old crossings are no longer usable because they are included in the buffer.
In total, the first phase of the project completed by summer 2009 will protect about 140 acres by installing new fences or mending current ones.
Making good on a promise made to students in 2002, construction has begun on the long-awaited People's Park! Intended as a contemplative, quiet space set aside within the core of campus, People's Park demonstrates sustainable practices in landscaping.
The OSU Landscape Shop is responsible for maintaining the grounds of the OSU campus. This includes lawns, sidewalks, trees, shrubs, and other open areas on the 423 acre main campus.
OSU has twice been awarded "Tree Campus USA" status by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Oregon Department of Forestry. This program recognizes college campuses for their excellence in tree planting, care, and stewardship.
OSU landscapers have taken many steps to reduce their operation's impact on the environment:
- Incorporating native and/or drought tolerant plants into landscaped areas
- Leave grass clippings on the lawns to return nutrients
- Obtain annual Oregon Dept. of Agriculture training to maintain pesticide best practices and application licenses
- Maintain the campus to different standards based on need (i.e., MU quad vs. low profile areas)
- Use of Maxi-com computerized irrigation system with weather-based watering to conserve water
- Minimal use of only slow release fertilizers to avoid fertilizer run off
- On-campus handling and chipping of woody debris and compostable material
- Application as groundcover of mulch and wood chips to reduce watering and weeding needs
In addition to the list above, the grounds crew maintains pedestrian and bicyclist safety by controlling sidewalk alignment and moss growth.