Salmon Safe Soapbox
Photo by Barry Kovish

Salmon-Safe Puget Sound starts with Parks, Campuses: University of Washington Bothell and other sites achieve certification

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Salmon-Safe and its Seattle-based outreach partner The Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS) will announce today that the Washington State Department of Ecology headquarters campus, Port of Seattle Parks, and the co-located campus of University of Washington Bothell and Cascadia Community College have become the first urban Washington sites to achieve Salmon-Safe certification. The designation was awarded for safeguards each campus deploys to protect water quality and salmon habitat, as well as commitments each organization has made to further reduce its environmental impact over time. The announcements will be made at an evening NBIS reception of environmentally-innovative businesses in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

The measures go above and beyond regulations and signify that the organizations have adopted significant and specific measures that restore in-stream habitat, conserve water, protect streamside habitat and wetlands on site, reduce erosion and sedimentation, and reduce or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides through integrated pest management. Certification is awarded only after comprehensive on-site assessments by an independent team of environmental science and water quality experts based on Salmon-Safe’s rigorous standards. Salmon Safe is a leading regional eco-label that in 11 years has certified more than 60,000 acres of farm and urban lands in Oregon and Washington.

Washington’s Salmon-Safe Corporate and Institutional Campus Initiative was launched in April 2007 by NBIS with support from the Puget Sound Action Team (now the Puget Sound Partnership).

“Salmon-Safe certification represents precisely the kind of rigorous and science-based yet voluntary approach that will be essential to the recovery of imperiled Puget Sound salmon,” said Puget Sound Partnership executive director David Dicks. “These first Seattle urban certifications open the way for other corporate and institutional campuses to adopt Salmon-Safe measures that contribute to restoring healthy waters for salmon and people.”

The certifications mark a significant new opportunity for businesses and urban landowners to participate in reducing impacts and restoring the health of Puget Sound’s watersheds.
“These ecologically innovative landowners are adopting healthier practices so salmon can spawn and thrive,” said Dan Kent, Salmon-Safe managing director. “We look forward to further expansion of urban campus certifications in Washington.”

Steve Fry, who oversees environmental programs at the Washington Department of Ecology’s 27.5 acre headquarters in Lacey, Washington said “Salmon-Safe ensures that our own practices measure up to our charge of protecting salmon. We welcomed the independent review and found that we needed to make some substantive changes.”

To qualify for Salmon-Safe certification, Department of Ecology met rigorous conservation requirements. These included shifting to a biologically-based integrated pest management program that relies on natural methods to control weeds and pests, additional water conservation, and incorporating these best management practices in all future campus development.

University of Washington Bothell and Cascadia Community College received certification for their jointly managed 70-acre campus located along North Creek, a tributary to the Sammamish River. “As an educational institution that increasingly is incorporating sustainability in our research and teaching, we were interested in applying the latest watershed protection concepts in our own backyard,” said UW Bothell Chancellor Kenyon S. Chan.

“At Cascadia, we want to be out in front, when it comes to the environment,” commented Cascadia Community College President Dr. William Christopher. “Being designated Salmon-Safe helps us show that this campus is doing its part to not only pass-on “green” values to our students, but make sure our true environmental footprint matches those philosophies as well.”

Further refining already well-developed environmental management programs, UW Bothell and Cascadia Community College met Salmon-Safe requirements including reducing stormwater runoff from developed parts of the campus, reductions in pesticide and fertilizer use, further water conservation, and commitment to Salmon-Safe design and construction management for planned future campus expansion and development. Salmon-Safe assessment also validated the excellence of the campus’s 58-acre wetland restoration project along North Creek, a fully restored research and teaching site adjacent to the campus that provides potential migration, spawning and rearing habitat for juvenile and adult steelhead and salmon.

Port of Seattle received certification for its system of parks and public access points primarily located on the lower Duwamish Waterway in downtown Seattle. The certification includes ten parks totaling nearly 50 acres.

“Recognizing the ecological sensitivity of our marine facilities, Port of Seattle has committed to leadership in the protection of aquatic habitat on the Seattle waterfront,” said Charla Skaggs, Port of Seattle media officer. “Salmon-Safe certification is an important way for us to help lead the way to a healthier Puget Sound.”

The Salmon Safe assessment report for Port of Seattle Parks notes that the Port has conducted a number of impressive shoreline restoration projects and its pesticide-free management policy is an outstanding example in the region. Still, Port of Seattle is acting on several assessment team recommendations to enhance its management program. For example, in an effort to reduce irrigation water use, Port of Seattle has agreed to a stringent water conservation plan, including a drought management plan. Port of Seattle also will seek to implement innovative methods to minimize stormwater pollution from its parking lots and other pollution generating surfaces. The Port also agreed to conduct at least one additional shoreline restoration project on Elliot Bay or the Duwamish Waterway as part of its certification program.

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