Written by BASSP senior – Tanya Saxby
To some, wetlands may appear as a swampy and unproductive or neglected piece of land. In fact, wetlands are a crucial component of our ecosystem – so much so, that the month of May has been designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to celebrate our American Wetlands. It’s a time, not only to reflect and appreciate a wetland’s natural beauty and value, but also to take stock of the protection, care and maintenance we provide to its landscape and habitat.
Wetlands serve many important functions. Their marsh-like characteristics allow the land to serve as a natural sponge, absorbing water to help control flooding and acting as a filter to limit contaminants flowing into creeks and tributaries. The soil and vegetation also act as a wind barrier and help prevent soil erosion. Finally, the wetlands are a home to many plants, trees and wildlife.
The campus at Cascadia College and the University of Washington (Bothell) features one the largest floodplain restorations in the state, preserving 58-acres of what is called the North Creek wetland. Campus operations, including construction, care and maintenance of structures and landscape, take into consideration the impact to the wetlands. Here are some interesting facts about our campus operations that demonstrate the schools’ commitment to protecting and preserving our wetlands:
- Campus cultivators avoid using chemical-based pest and weed management to protect the wetland from receiving toxic runoff.
- Periodic removal of non-native species to protect and preserve the growth of native plants in the wetland.
- Water quality testing to monitor the health of the creek.
- Rain-catchment in CC3 to reduce oversaturation of the wetlands. (Did you know the rainwater is used to flush the toilets in CC3?)
These are but a few of the ongoing efforts of our joint campus to protect the North Creek wetland. These efforts have resulted in the campus achieving Salmon-Safe certification. This means that extraordinary measures have been taken to restore in-stream habitat, reduce soil erosion, conserve water and practice integrated pest management. Students enrolled in environmental science or sustainable development courses have an active role in protecting the wetland through class-based living-laboratory activities on campus. For more information about the North Creek wetlands, visit http://digitalcollections.lib.washington.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/uwb2.
You can celebrate wetlands on campus on May 25! Midori Sakura and her students will showing off carnivorous plants, hosting wetland tours, teaching folks about our state amphibian, handing out stickers and tattoos and much more! They can be found in the Food Forest next to the newly decorated trailer from 10:30am to 4:30pm.
If you are interested in pursuing studies at Cascadia related to environmental protection and preservation, contact Jodie Galvan at firstname.lastname@example.org.