Salmon expert: Urban waterways can help restore a fading species
By Andy Giegerich
Digital Managing Editor
A Portland State University professor maintains that salmon could again trek down urban waterways if enough streams are adequately cleaned.
So says Alan Yeakley, director of PSU’s School of the Environment, whose new book “Wild Salmonids in the Urbanizing Pacific Northwest” was released last month. Yeakley’s work analyzed the science behind the recovery of the iconic fish.
Yeakley, director of the School of the Environment at Portland State University, examined how stormwater management efforts, watershed-wide conservation efforts and streamside habitat recovery have helped the wild salmon population slowly rebuild.
“The urban areas were written off as wastelands by fish managers,” Yeakley said. “For the longest time they have just ignored urban areas. What Portland has done is try to go against that.”
Specifically, the city’s 2005 Watershed Management Plan aims to aid salmon and trout recovery in the Columbia Slough, Fanno Creek, Johnson Creek, Tryon Creek and the Willamette River.
As part of the plan, more residents are installing green roofs and bioswales. Several have purchased land along Johnson Creek to restore the nearby riparian habitat.
“Our position is, if you don’t fix the urban areas, you won’t ever fix the larger habitat problem,” Yeakley said. “Right now there is real hope. Scientists say you have to have presence first, then abundance. We have presence. There is a glimmer of the first part of the success.”
Yeakley edited “Wild Salmonids” with Oregon State University’s Kathleen Maas-Hebner and Robert Hughes. The latter duo works in the school’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
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