Salmon Safe Soapbox
Photo by Barry Kovish

Expanding to urban Seattle: announcing UW, REI, Seattle Art Museum, PCC Natural Markets certifications

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Multiple high profile Seattle-area institutions were honored by Salmon-Safe and its Seattle-based outreach partner, The Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS), for their commitment to protecting wildlife habitats and improving water quality in the Puget Sound region. Properties receiving Salmon-Safe certification include the UW’s Seattle campus; REI’s headquarters, distribution center and downtown flagship store; the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park; and PCC Natural Market’s Edmonds store. In addition, Turner Construction will be recognized as the first Salmon-Safe accredited construction management company.

“Salmon-Safe certification is the kind of rigorous but voluntary approach that is essential to the recovery of Puget Sound salmon, said Washington Governor  Christine Gregoire. "I applaud each of these dedicated urban leaders for going above and beyond local and state regulations, and I hope their example will motivate other businesses and institutions to adopt Salmon-Safe standards.”

Salmon-Safe, which began as a program designed to help farmers restore salmon streams, is the only certification program in the country specifically dedicated to protecting water quality and habitat for salmon. “These environmentally innovative landowners are adopting healthier practices so that salmon can once again thrive in Puget Sound’s urban tributaries,” said Dan Kent, Salmon-Safe’s executive director. “We hope that these projects in the urban core of Seattle will inspire other landowners to take action to reduce watershed impacts in cities and suburbs across the region.”

Prior to the establishment of the urban program Salmon Safe was mostly focused on certifying farms and vineyards, having certified over 80 farms in the Puget Sound region.  Building upon that success, Washington’s Salmon-Safe urban initiative was launched in 2007 by the Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS) with support from the Puget Sound Partnership and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. A 2008 pilot round of Salmon-Safe certifications included the UW’s Bothell campus, Port of Seattle Parks, and Washington State Department of Ecology’s headquarters near Olympia.

More than a decade after first certifying farms in Oregon's Willamette Valley, Salmon-Safe has become one of the nation's leading regional eco-label programs with more than 60,000 acres of farm and urban lands certified throughout Oregon, Washington, and California. Recognizing that rapid growth in the urban landscape is the biggest single factor affecting the Puget Sound ecosystem, NBIS joined with Salmon-Safe in 2007 to launch the Puget Sound urban initiative. Salmon-Safe standards for urban properties help landowners develop comprehensive management plans and innovations that capture and treat stormwater on site, reduce water consumption, and eliminate harmful fertilizers and pesticides.

To qualify for Salmon-Safe certification, each organization went above and beyond local and state regulations to adopt significant measures to restore in-stream habitat, conserve water, protect streamside and wetland habitats, reduce erosion and sedimentation, and reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

 The University of Washington, for example, is receiving Salmon-Safe certification in recognition of a campus-wide stormwater management program, innovative irrigations systems, and commitments to drought tolerant landscaping and to integrated pest management of gardens and athletic fields.  The University is also committed to Salmon-Safe design and construction management for future campus expansion projects and will undertake additional shoreline restoration projects to improve habitat for migrating salmon.

PCC Natural Markets is earning Salmon-Safe certification for its environmentally innovative redesign and development of a three-acre former supermarket site in Edmonds. Specifically, PCC’s Edmonds store is being recognized for harvesting rooftop rainwater for irrigation and other reuse, incorporating low input landscaping, and for treatment of parking lot runoff through rain gardens. PCC Natural Markets was the first Washington state retailer to support and promote Salmon-Safe's certification program for farms and vineyard operations. With the certification of its Edmonds store, PCC is the first Washington retail store to become Salmon-Safe certified.

REI is receiving certification for three Puget Sound area sites and for system-wide plans to reduce fertilizer and pesticide use. REI has also committed to increase water conservation across its operations by installing rain gardens, wetlands and other measures to treat stormwater runoff before it reaches streams adjacent to REI’s headquarters in Kent and its distribution center in Sumner. REI’s flagship store in Seattle will also be recognized for its design, which includes native plants, pesticide-free landscaping, and the collection of rainwater for use in the property’s waterfall and stream feature.

The Olympic Sculpture Park will be awarded Salmon-Safe certification for restoration of a former brownfield site and the adjacent beach and inter-tidal areas. The park is also being recognized for use of native plant beddings and the use of interpretive signs, as well as efforts to conserve irrigation water and treat stormwater runoff through restored soils.

The event to honor the organizations receiving certification will be held today at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus. Hosted by the University of Washington, expected guests include:  Phyllis Wise, interim president at the University of Washington; Mark Comstock, Vice President of Real Estate and Store Development, REI; Derrick Cartwright, Director of the Seattle Art Museum; Tracy Wolpert, CEO of PCC Natural Markets and Jack Beaudoin, Vice President and General Manager of Turner Construction. The media are invited to attend the event, which will begin at 3:30 p.m.


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