Can salmon thrive in a dried up creek bed? With a little work, some Clark faculty hope they will.
Clark owns a potential salmon habitat after obtaining a section of McCormick Creek as part of the Boschma Farms land in Ridgefield in 2014.
In 2016, a group of environmental science students discovered a tributary of McCormick Creek that could bear salmon. Professors Erin Harwood and Kathleen Perillo are heading a preservation project. Harwood said while the salmon population is a big part of the project, it’s more about creating “a space on campus that shows how connected we, as humans, are to the entire ecosystem.”
The stream is part of a heavily-farmed parcel of land, designed to quickly drain rainwater. To bring back the salmon population, Harwood said the project plans on reshaping the land around the creek. Once reshaped, Harwood said she and her students would begin to plant in the area to draw in more wildlife. They want the creek to flow and meander but it would require a lot of money and earth to move.
Harwood said the project received a $20,000 grant to buy heavy equipment, but more money is needed to fully realize their visions. Harwood said they are currently seeking grants and funds from sources outside the college. If they can get the funding this winter or spring, Harwood said they hope to take advantage of the dryness of the summer and start reshaping the earth then.
Eventually, Harwood plans on working with the Cowlitz tribe and the City of Ridgefield. Harwood said Ridgefield plans to place a system of trails connecting the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge to places like Boschma Farms and McCormick Creek.