King County Parks Earn 'Salmon-Safe' Certification

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KING COUNTY, WA — King County Parks secured a top environmental certification this week, following a comprehensive review of its efforts to protect water quality and salmon habitats. King County is now home to the nation’s largest park system to earn the “Salmon-Safe” certification from a rigorous accreditation program based in Portland.

King County Executive Dow Constantine celebrated the milestone Monday, highlighting the early success of his “Clean Water Healthy Habitat” initiative, launched in 2019. That same year, King County voters approved the Parks Levy, including $121.5 million to help protect more forests, rivers and 65,000 acres of open space.

“Our commitment to protecting water quality and improving habitat guides work throughout our entire enterprise, including our world-class parks and trails,” Constantine said in a statement. “Being the largest park system in the country to earn Salmon-Safe certification demonstrates our ability to create safe, healthy environments for people, fish, and wildlife that call King County home.”

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Salmon-Safe awards certifications to farmers, developers and governments along the West Coast that successfully reduce their impacts on watersheds. In King County, the comprehensive assessment included a thorough inspection of nearly 21 locations, including parks, trails, and other natural areas, along with an evaluation of how effective policies are in action.

“Salmon-Safe’s third-party audit shows that King County Parks is a leader among West Coast park systems in taking a holistic approach to its watershed,” said Dan Kent, Salmon-Safe’s executive director. “Taken together, the county’s actions represent an integrated approach and meaningful commitment to the health of Puget Sound and its urban tributaries.”

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A team of scientists and experts also reviewed King County’s efforts to reduce pollution from water runoff, and inspectors were impressed at the progress made toward installing more green stormwater infrastructure. One area of improvement, the county said, is taking steps to make sure practices are more consistent across the park system’s nine districts.

“We don’t want to just reduce the impact that our parks and trails have on the natural environment — we want to contribute to cleaner water and healthier habitat,” said Warren Jimenez, King County Parks’ division director. “I am grateful for the progress that our staff has made and excited about what we will accomplish in the years to come with help from Salmon-Safe.”

The Salmon-Safe certification is valid for five years, which can include annual reviews.

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