Paine Field sets bar among industrial landowners to protect Puget Sound water quality and salmon habitat.

Paine Field today became the third airport in North America to be certified Salmon-Safe for its long-running efforts to maintain water quality and natural habitat that supports the biological needs of salmon.

The airport’s environmental programs reflect decades of improvements and innovation. Gaining Salmon-Safe certification is “just huge and I’m really proud of everybody that got this done,” County Executive Dave Somers said.

Dan Kent, Salmon-Safe (left), shakes hands with Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers at a ceremony in Everett.

The decision to certify Paine Field was reached by Salmon-Safe’s independent panel of regional experts who have extensive experience in the areas of stormwater management, fish biology, habitat conservation, integrated pest management and landscape managment. Salmon-Safe experts concluded that Paine Field’s environmental programs are strong, but they also convinced the airport to make enhancements, including even more water quality monitoring.

“Paine Field is a leader in the aviation industry in adopting Salmon-Safe as an environmental management system to reduce its watershed impacts,” said Dan Kent, co-founder and executive director of Salmon-Safe. “We look forward to working closely with Snohomish County as it implements its certification commitments, and as the airport continues to raise the bar for environmental management within the aviation industry and among industrial landowners impacting Puget Sound.”

Salmon-Safe certification applies to roughly 1,250 acres of county-owned property at the airport. The decision to seek Salmon-Safe’s review was part of the airport’s Dream Greener program, which reflects the county’s belief that it’s possible to have it both ways: a clean environment and a dynamic Paine Field that continues to support some 65,000 jobs with an annual economic impact upwards of $20 billion.

“Environmental stewardship is an integral part of what we do,” Paine Field Airport Director Arif Ghouse said. “There are always regulatory requirements that we have to meet but our philosophy is to go above and beyond that after balancing our operational and financial needs as well.”

Paine Field joins Seattle-Tacoma International and Vancouver (British Columbia) International airports in Salmon-Safe certification.