Oak Creek Restoration

OSU has embarked on several focused efforts to reduce its impact on Oak Creek, one of the area's most significant natural features. The two primary areas of concentration are the main campus (30th St. to 35th St. reach) and the Department of Animal Sciences' livestock facilities (generally west of the OSU Dairy Center).

Main Campus

Although recent reports have rated riparian functions in the 30th to 35th St. reach as "nearly fully functioning" to "fully functioning", there are improvements still to be made including:

  • Removing invasive species like Himalayan blackberry and English ivy
  • Reforesting certain areas of the corridor
  • Reconnecting the floodplain
  • Appropriately treating and buffering stormwater discharge into the creek

With these improvements and others, study opportunities abound. Study zones along the creek can be designated for students to evaluate various restoration and protection methods, study riparian function and monitor stream improvements.

Livestock Facilities

OSU's Dept. of Animal Sciences recently announced the start of a yearlong project to restore and protect areas of the creek that wind through livestock facilities. Supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the project will create wildlife habitat and riparian buffers along more than five miles of streams that include Oak Creek and its tributaries.

Oak Creek

Animal facilities include the horse, sheep, swine, and dairy centers with plans to expand it into Soap and Berry Creek ranches and protect a different water system there. The properties are diverse and plans differ according to needs but the principals are the same:

  • Selectively clear understory to remove undesirable species while keeping as many natives as possible.
  • Build fences to keep livestock out of the waterways.
  • Plant oak and ash species (22,000 planned).
  • Provide continued maintenance by keeping noxious weeds and invasives controlled and irrigating trees during establishment.
  • Where livestock can no longer access the creek for drinking water, watering sites will be established.
  • In some places new stream crossings must be established. Old crossings are no longer usable because they are included in the buffer.

In total, the first phase of the project completed by summer 2009 will protect about 140 acres by installing new fences or mending current ones.

There have also been several past studies of Oak Creek: IWW information; F&W information. To get involved, contact Brandon Trelstad at 541-737-3307.

Oak Creek Dam Removal

Metal dam dating from the early 20th Century was removed from Oak Creek near 35th Street, at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture in August 2007. The effort was a collaboration between OSU and the City of Corvallis to return the creek to a more natural state, protecting the highly valuable riparian corridor Oak Creek provides through the Corvallis Campus.

People's Park

Making good on a promise made to students in 2002, construction has begun on the long-awaited People's Park!  Intended as a contemplative, quiet space set aside within the core of campus, People's Park demonstrates sustainable practices in landscaping.   

Grounds: Landscape and Hardscape Maintenance

The OSU Landscape Shop is responsible for maintaining the grounds of the OSU campus. This includes lawns, sidewalks, trees, shrubs, and other open areas on the 423 acre main campus.

For the last six years, OSU has been awarded "Tree Campus USA" status by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Oregon Department of Forestry. This program recognizes college campuses for their excellence in tree planting, care, and stewardship.

The Oregon State main campus has over 5,000 cataloged trees (not including the many trees in the riparian corridor along Oak Creek and the agriculture lands).

The tallest tree at OSU is 140 feet tall,the largest trunk diameter is nearly 8 feet, and the largest canopy on our campus is over 100 feet wide. 

Among our thousands of trees are several state and locally recognized Heritage trees.  Heritage trees are described as trees that are honored for their unique size, age, historical, or horticultural significance. Some noticeable Heritage trees on the OSU campus include:

  • A giant Oregon White Oak tree in front of Magruder Hall
  • A Douglas Fir, also known as "The Moon Tree" due to its travels with Apollo 14 before being planted by Peavy Hall (its story is listed on a plaque along the sidewalk)
  • A Dawn Redwood – a tree long thought to be extinct as it had only been found in the fossil record until its rediscovery in a valley in central China in the 1940’s (OSU was granted one of the seedlings from this early find and so has one of the largest trees around) 




Oregon White Oak Tree

The Moon Tree



OSU landscapers have taken many steps to reduce their operation's impact on the environment:

  • Incorporating native and/or drought tolerant plants into landscaped areas
  • Leave grass clippings on the lawns to return nutrients
  • Obtain annual Oregon Dept. of Agriculture training to maintain pesticide best practices and application licenses
  • Maintain the campus to different standards based on need (i.e., MU quad vs. low profile areas)
  • Use of Maxi-com computerized irrigation system with weather-based watering to conserve water
  • Minimal use of only slow release fertilizers to avoid fertilizer run off
  • On-campus handling and chipping of woody debris and compostable material
  • Application as groundcover of mulch and wood chips to reduce watering and weeding needs
  • Chipping and recycling all pruning and storm damaged trees back into mulch for the landscape plantings on campus

In addition to the list above, the grounds crew maintains pedestrian and bicyclist safety by controlling sidewalk alignment and moss growth.