WASHOUGAL – When physical science students at Washougal High School asked about flooding and impacts for businesses near the Columbia River, their teacher saw an opportunity to bring in a guest with answers. Students participated in a question-and-answer session with David Ripp, the Port of Camas-Washougal’s chief executive officer. The port district maintains levees and manages property near the river with an eye toward sustainability.
Students led the conversation, asking questions they formulated ahead of time. Science teacher Will Baur facilitated the conversation. Students asked about the local impacts of previous flooding events, current projects and partnerships, future plans for the area, and careers at the port.
Ripp said the port relies on levees to protect the port property from flooding. He talked about ways the port was impacted during the major floods of 1996, when a parking area and the basement of the port facility flooded.
Students learned about projects currently underway, and how the port works with neighbors to mitigate impacts of construction. Ripp talked about the partnership between the port, surrounding businesses and the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and how the port is selective with ways they allow tenants to use leased property to enhance the public-facing parts of the port property.
Students learned about the planned developments on the old Hamilton Lumber site, and the ground cleanup that took place to prepare the property for redevelopment. Students were interested in the planned mixed-use development, and how many businesses the port expects to be able to welcome.
“Connecting the science concepts to our local area helps students better understand the standards we are working on, and see purpose in learning more about the ecosystems we are all part of, and how they play a part in shaping the natural world,” said Baur.