news-iconLocal News: Grounds

Below are sustainability-related news items throughout the Western Washington University and Bellingham-area. These items correspond to Grounds.

Washington trails get year-round attention

February 10, 2015 |
The Western Front
The Washington Trails Association (WTA) partners with volunteers year-round to help construct and maintain parks and trails statewide. The WTA has ongoing work at Larrabee State Park, Fragrance Lake, the Samish Bay Connector trail on Oyster Dome and Sharpe Park near Deception Pass. Work parties are scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22 in Bellingham, according to the WTA website. Work is also being done in the Sehome Arboretum, said Arlen Bogaards, WTA Northwest regional manager. "We are rehabilitating one of the trails that goes through the Arboretum," Bogaards said.

"It's an existing trail, but it was basically built by people walking around out there, so we're trying to make it wider, safer and more sustainable." So far, one work party has done maintenance in the Arboretum this year. Out of the 21 volunteers, about 18 of them were Western students, Bogaards said. Seven more Arboretum work parties are scheduled this year, with one to two per month, he said. The next work party will be on Feb. 21. Their latest project is “rediscovering” the Suiattle wilderness, said Rebecca Lavigne, program director for WTA. Suiattle is an area on the west side of Glacier Peak wilderness, about an hour south of Western’s campus. Access has been limited for the past decade due to the closure of the Suiattle River Road. With the road back in service since October, focus is on returning trails in that area to good condition, Lavigne said.

Western brings electric vehicles to campus for testing

January 12, 2015 |
The Western Front
Electric vehicles will be test-run on Western’s campus from Jan. 12 to 19 to determine how they can be used across campus to reduce carbon emissions. Facilities Management employees will try out the vehicles and give feedback on whether the vehicles can be used in their daily work. Several kinds of electric vehicles will be tested. Vehicles start arriving on campus Monday, Jan. 12, said Tom Krabbenhoft, program manager of Facilities Management.

Due to the large number of vehicles used on Western’s campus, Facilities Management has been considering alternative-fuel vehicles for years, to help reduce fossil fuel consumption on campus, Krabbenhoft said. “The entire campus is a classroom and everyone who is working and learning here is contributing to the development of others, whether it is directly or indirectly,” Krabbenhoft said in a Facilities Management press release. “We are looking for what types of applications and uses will make sense [and] where we are able to accomplish the job and at the same time reduce the carbon footprint.”

Rain gardens in the works

April 11, 2014 |
The Western Front
The construction of 36 rain gardens will help filter water pollution in downtown Bellingham and is set to start the beginning of May, said Rose Lathrop, green building and smart growth manager for Sustainable Connections.

Rain gardens sit slightly below street level and use sidewalk curves as gutters to funnel street runoff into planted areas that range in size and shape, said Freeman Anthony, City of Bellingham project engineer.

Forever Green: Staying environmentally friendly from six feet under

April 26, 2011 |
The Western Front
Burying the dead takes a toll on family members' emotions and wallets. But it can also be harmful to the environment. An alternative to traditional burial is green burial. The idea is as simple as the burial is, said Brian Flowers, cemetarian and green burial coordinator.

Bodies are returned back into a natural environment by putting the deceased into the ground in an environmentally friendly way.

Finding a happy medium: sustainability vs. appearance

December 1, 2009 |
The Western Front
Construction is changing the face of campus as new landscaping and bike pathways focus on sustainable groundskeeping rather than simply keeping up appearances.