Let knowledge serve our rivers: Portland State’s campus is Salmon-Safe Certified
Author: Christina Williams, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: October 1, 2015

Portland State University and Salmon-Safe announced today that the PSU campus is continuing a long legacy of environmental stewardship and commitment to clean air and water by recertifying the 47-acre campus under the Salmon-Safe certification program for protection of urban water quality and habitat.

The Salmon-Safe certification recognizes PSU’s efforts to restore an ecologically functional urban landscape while protecting downstream water quality in the nearby Willamette River through actions on its campus. The Salmon-Safe assessment focused on campus-wide management activities to reduce stormwater runoff—the largest potential influence on downstream conditions for salmon. PSU has constructed a number of innovative stormwater treatment facilities, including green roofs, rainwater harvesting, and bio-retention facilities.

“As salmon migrate through the Willamette River system, the activities that Portland State is taking on will provide protection for those fish," said Peter Paquet, director of the Watershed Management Professional Program in the PSU Hatfield School of Government Executive Leadership Institute and board member and founding president at Salmon-Safe.

In 2006, PSU became the first university in the country to achieve Salmon-Safe Certification. Over the nine years since PSU first achieved the conditional certification, campus staff have continued to make progress on the goals set for the campus by Salmon-Safe. Both in its new campus developments and in ongoing retrofits to existing buildings, PSU has continued to take steps to minimize the impacts of stormwater runoff from its urban campus by installing bioswales and eco-roofs where possible and integrating comprehensive stormwater infrastructure across campus. 

Since 2006, grounds maintenance staff have greatly increased the use of native plants and reduced synthetic chemical inputs to campus landscaping, now using only organic fertilizers, reducing herbicide use to glyphosate only, and increasing hand weeding where feasible given limited staff. When herbicides are used, they are carefully chosen by knowledgeable staff, specifically targeted and professionally applied by a licensed public applicator. 

“We are extremely proud to reinstate PSU’s Salmon-Safe status today,” said Jenny McNamara, PSU campus sustainability manager. “The work to continually improve the environmental stewardship of this campus stretches across the University and reflects a truly institution-wide commitment to preserving the balance in our region’s ecosystem. Students should be proud to come to class on this Salmon-Safe campus.”