The City of Salem's Public Works Department was recently awarded a prestigious award for their efforts restoring wetlands at the Mill Creek Corporate Center in Southeast Salem. The American Public Works Association's, Oregon Chapter, awarded the City of Salem the 2021 Public Works Project of the Year Award in the Environmental ($5 million to $25 million) Division for their efforts in restoring the wetlands.
Today, nearly 42 acres of the 100 open space acres at the Mill Creek Corporate Center have been dedicated to establishing a new and thriving wetland habitat. The main goal of the project is to enhance wetlands by converting mostly agricultural land into a mosaic of diverse habitat dominated by native species. The wetlands exist on land that in the past was drained artificially to create agricultural fields. The resulting drier soil was more vulnerable to invasion by non-native species. The increasingly diverse and natural space will provide a habitat for local wildlife as well as provide a natural outlet for stormwater runoff during Salem's rainy seasons.
The Oregon State Legislature passed legislation in the early 2000s directing the Department of Administrative Services to get the Mill Creek Corporate Center property, located near Aumsville Hwy. SE and Kuebler Rd. SE, shovel-ready and sell the property to create jobs and economic growth. Work began with a master plan for the site and resulted in 550 acres of developable industrial/employment lands and 100 acres of open space. The open space was identified to provide passive recreation, wetland mitigation, and a regional stormwater management solution to support the development.
This award recognizes the cooperative achievements between the City of Salem, the Department of Administrative Services, Pacific Habitat Services, design consultants at Otak, Inc., and the contractor K & E Excavating.