• First Salmon-Safe Community College in Nation Un-paves the Way Toward a Healthier Creek

    On Saturday, May 19, more than 120 volunteers showed up at Mt. Hood Community College’s Gresham Campus to break up pavement and haul rubble, creating space for rain gardens that will filter polluted stormwater from the college’s parking lots and better protect endangered salmon living in nearby Beaver Creek. The event served as a kickoff for the construction of several projects at MHCC – the nation’s first Salmon-Safe certified community college – that focus on greening the campus and managing stormwater runoff in a more ecologically friendly way.


    The de-paving event was facilitated by the nonprofit Depave, which pre-cut sections of the asphalt so that volunteers could pry up the pavement and haul it away in wheelbarrows. During an opening ceremony for the event, several local officials, among them MHCC District Board member Michael Calcagno, Sandy River Watershed Council (SRWC) Executive Director Steve Wise, and Depave Executive Director Erica Mattison, spoke on the collaboration involved in organizing the de-paving and the gardens’ potential impacts on the environment.

    “We’re extremely proud to see this project come to fruition and to bring together so many partners,” said Wise. “We consider this a giant leap forward for salmon too as we work toward creating safer habitat for them in the Sandy River basin.”

    Smiles ran wide throughout the day as sweat dripped from brows. High school and college students, members of faith communities, and many other groups and individuals participated in making the day a success.

    Construction began the following week on adding curbs to the new raingardens. In all, seven parking spots were eliminated from the college’s western parking lots. This summer, construction will resume on the raingardens and drywells. Drywells are underground structures that dispose of unwanted surface runoff. When complete, the project will treat four million gallons of polluted stormwater each year – or 78 percent of the total stormwater from these parking lots – just by retrofitting 4 percent of the lots’ impervious area.

    In 2016, MHCC became the first Salmon-Safe certified community college in the country. To fulfill the terms of this commitment, the SRWC has been working with MHCC, the City of Gresham, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Metro, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, and other partners by identifying stormwater hot spots, creating strategies for mitigating pollution, and prioritizing public engagement. You can learn more about this initiative at sandyriver.org/projects/depave.