Squaxin Island Tribe’s new Salish Cliffs Golf Club has become the first “Salmon-Safe” certified golf course after successfully passing an exhaustive assessment verifying the Tribe’s commitment to protecting native habitat, managing water runoff, reducing pesticides, and advancing environmental practices throughout the region.

The Salmon-Safe Golf Course Certification program is an offshoot of the popular Northwest eco-label for agricultural and vineyard practices, administered in Washington by the Seattle-based non-profit Stewardship Partners. The program looks at site development practices to protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and overall watershed health based on a detailed set of peer-reviewed guidelines.

A highly technical and efficient water treatment system that generates Class A reuse water from Little Creek Casino Resort is exemplary of the detail and effort that Squaxin Island Tribe employed to earn Salmon-Safe certification at Salish Cliffs. The treated water is stored for its intended use irrigating the course during summer.

When we decided to build Salish Cliffs, we vowed to uphold our Tribal mission to nurture our people and our land and ensure both thrive for generations to come,” said Dave Lopeman, Squaxin Island Tribal Council Chairman. “Creating and maintaining an eco-sensitive course from site planning through ongoing operation was essential to us and the people of Western Washington. Special recognition goes to Jeff Dickison, Assistant Natural Resources Director for Squaxin Island Tribe, and Salish Cliffs Superintendent Bob Pearsall. Their joint dedication and persistence spearheaded this significant achievement.”

The independent review process was conducted by a team of experts in the fields of stream ecology, storm water management, golf course design, and landscape management. Salmon-Safe assessment validated the Tribe’s efforts to protect wetlands and streams, preserve existing trees, and ensure the land is protected.

Squaxin Island Tribe is acting on several assessment team recommendations to enhance its management program. For example, in an effort to minimize storm water pollution from its clubhouse parking lot, the Tribe will join with Stewardship Partners to install a rain garden and further implement other innovative methods to minimize storm water runoff. The Tribe has proactively reduced and/or eliminated pesticides used at Salish Cliffs that could be harmful to salmon. And it continues to enhance the wildlife habitat across the site.

The Squaxin Island Tribe designed Salish Cliffs from inception to support salmon so they can once again thrive in south Puget Sound,” said David Burger, Executive Director of Stewardship Partners. “We hope that Salmon-Safe certification of Salish Cliffs demonstrates to the golf industry that environmental innovation and world-class courses are mutually beneficial.”

Salish Cliffs Golf Club is the brand-new, 18-hole championship course and amenity of Little Creek Casino Resort. Salish Cliffs was designed by golf course architect Gene Bates and 2012 marks its first full season. It has already won several best-in-kind awards from national golf media.