Snohomish County-owned Paine Field Airport has been certified Salmon-Safe for its long-running efforts to maintain water quality and natural habitat that supports the biological needs of salmon. Paine Field is the third airport in North America to receive such a designation.
“Earning Salmon-Safe certification is a huge accomplishment for Snohomish County. I’m thankful and proud of everybody who helped us achieve it,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said. “Paine Field is not only the single biggest driver of our economy, it is also contributing to improving our region’s environmental health.”
Salmon-Safe is an Oregon-based nonprofit that aims to “transform land management practices so Pacific salmon can thrive in West Coast watersheds.” The decision to certify Paine Field was reached by an independent panel of regional experts who have extensive experience in the areas of stormwater management, fish biology, habitat conservation, integrated pest management and landscape management.
Salmon-Safe experts concluded that Paine Field’s environmental programs are strong. They also convinced the airport to make enhancements. Among other things, Paine Field will increase the locations where it already contracts for independent water quality testing, and also has pledged to eliminate use of pesticides on Salmon-Safe’s high-hazard list, even though those remain legal.
“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 both a clean environment and a dynamic Paine Field that continues to support some 65,000 jobs and aerospace business with an annual economic impact upwards of $20 billion, the airport said in an announcement.
“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. Other places that have earned the designation include the City of Shoreline, the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital and properties owned by Northwest companies such as Nike, Vulcan and REI Co-Op.