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Environmental Science and Sustainability Club helps out salmon

The Environmental Science and Sustainability Club (ESS) of Washington State University Vancouver is working on a water study in efforts to create a better habitat for salmon. Their water study, which is based on a WSU Vancouver program called “Salmon Safe Certification,” is a yearlong project.

The Salmon Safe Certification does restoration projects and plants trees. Perkins said that what the Salmon Safe Certification does is it helps in maintaining cleanliness in the creek, which in turn can help restore the salmon habitat.

The ESS Club wants to officially start the project by setting up sampling locations in various points along salmon creek. At these sampling locations, the club plans to take samples of water and test various metrics to see if it will make a good habitat for salmon.

Club President Kaitlin Perkins and others have found the factors that their experiments will focus on. “We’re testing for metrics like oxygen, temperature, turbidity and pH [balance]… [Salmon] not only need cold temperature, but high levels of oxygen.” Perkins said.

The ESS Club just had their first sampling of water last week. Perkins said that as the club continues collecting data from the various sampling locations that the study will become a “long-term data set.” The club does not know what they will expect from the study yet, but the members will find out once they have a long-term data set.

Though the club started their first sampling last week, the members of the club originally started thinking about doing the water study during spring of 2014. With the assistance of Dawn Freeman, instruction and classroom support technician, as well as Michael Berger, senior instructor from the Environmental Science and Biology department, the club is able to conduct the study. Freeman allows the club to use the equipment needed to conduct the study while Berger provides assistance to the club.

Once the data yields results, the club plans on sharing them with students, staff and faculty at WSU Vancouver. Perkins said that the club welcomes other students who are not members of the ESS Club to help them conduct the study. The club plans on sharing the results of their study by tabling out in the quad. The club plans on engaging all of the students on campus with their study, even the ones who are non-science majors.

“I guess one of the big things about it is being here in the Northwest, we’re probably all concerned with the health of our creeks. I think we’ve been taught to believe that salmon and trout are these important species. I feel like even students who aren’t in the science majors still have an understanding that the fish and the rivers are important.” Perkins said.

Aside from the water study, the ESS club has done other activities and events at the WSU Vancouver campus. Other activities the club has done are various earth day events and volunteer tree planting. Perkins said that the club wanted to add a little more diversity to what the club does. Instead of doing merely community events for campus, the club wanted to add a more “science” aspect of it by starting the water study.

Students, staff and faculty who have more questions about the study or who are interested in assisting the club conduct the study can contact club leadership by email at van.rso.ess@wsu.edu. They can also contact the club via Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ESSWSUV or via CougSync.

Photo Credit: Kaitlin Perkins

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