Saturday, September 13, 2008

Salmon-Safe SoWa

I've riffed a bit on SoWa previously on Landscape+Urbanism as filled with potential but needing some time... A recent report by Dyland Rivera from the Oregonian and picked up on Jetson Green as well, that the 35-acre area in the South Waterfront area in Portland has acheived Salmon Safe Certification, the first urban neighborhood to do so. Salmon Safe is a program that aims to which minimizes impacts to native fish habitat in urban areas and agricultural zones by providing certification of best management practices.

:: image via Jetson Green

From the article - the benefit in SoWa is from the cumulative strategies that together protect waterways even in dense urban areas: "...the developers and city planners included water-treating ponds, green roofs and other elements that would slow and clean storm water that might otherwise poison salmon and pollute the Willamette River. Residents have agreed to restrict the use of chemical fertilizers there, too. ...Result: The runoff will be comparable to what the area would have produced in its pristine state a century ago, as if the development hadn't happened at all, according to Salmon Safe, a Portland nonprofit tracking waterway influences."

From the SoWa website - there is definitely a bunch more development that is slated to happen. The OHSU Center for Health and Healing (LEED Platinum) and the Condominums at the Meriwether (LEED Gold), The John Ross (LEED Gold) and Atwater Place (LEED Silver) - along with the new addition, The Ardea (LEED Silver). The other part is the Willamette River Greenway - which I will get to in a bit.

:: image via South Waterfront

The other big development down in the SoWa is the Aerial Tram... seen below, with the existing buildings and Mount Hood in the distance.

:: image via Portland Bridges

Back to Salmon-Safe... some further info from the Oregonian: "Certification means South Waterfront’s 17-block central district exceeds state and federal regulatory commitments to protect the Willamette River and its urban tributaries and is a leader in river restoration. The designation commits the neighborhood to sustain its environmental stewardship over time, including the district-wide elimination of pesticides that are harmful to salmon and other aquatic life. ...To date, Salmon-Safe's inspection team has certified more than 65,000 acres of farm and urban lands in Oregon and Washington, including 140 vineyards that represent a third of Oregon's total vineyard acreage."

:: Full Build-out SoWa - image via Lazenby Consulting

A couple of local development heavy-weights are quoted via the O, as well, starting with Dennis Wilde, a principal at Gerding-Edlen Development: "...Recognizing the ecological sensitivity of this site and its direct connection to the Willamette River, Gerding-Edlen and all of our partners committed to building the nation’s most sustainable neighborhood, particularly with respect to managing stormwater runoff." And Homer Williams from Williams & Dame Development: “By expanding its already robust environmental program and committing to Salmon-Safe development and practices at this ecologically important site, South Waterfront is leading the way a healthier Willamette River."

And the tag line for the event was pretty good as well... Live.Eat.Shop.Spawn...

:: image via South Waterfront

So it's all good, and I am a big fan of the project characteristics and elements, as well as the pledge for eco-friendly maintenance. The new buildings, rooftop spaces, bioswales, and the upcoming Neighborhood Park will add many facets to this emerging neighborhood. I just have one, big question...

:: images via Portland Bridges

When, with all of this money spent on neighborhood development and expensive condos, will the investment be truly made that will result in the vibrant and viable (and dare I say) truly Salmon-Safe South Waterfront Greenway ... to replace the blank grassy edge that currently occupies the river edge (above) and turn it into the habitat-friendly corridor seen in images (below)?

The certification is a great step. And once the Greenway planting is in, this neighborhood can really say that it is truly Salmon Safe...

1 comment:

  1. Hooray! for you Jason for your comment about the need to replace the grass along the waterfront with native riparian forest species.

    But Salmon Safe needs to look much more closely at the plant species in the landscape at SoWa. Since it is so close to the river, it would help our salmon and the entire ecosystem much more if it were all native.

    Instead, at least one category B invasive was deliberately planted in the bioswales--not once, but twice: Iris pseudacorus (Yellow flag). Please read about why this plant is problemmatic at: This plant is so destructive of habitat a half mile upstream that the city has been spending our tax dollars to herbicide it. I got it removed at SoWa's the Meriweather just before all its seeds burst last year, only to find new crops of it in the newest stormwater planters on either side of the Ardea this year. This is one plant that is not safe for salmon!


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