How does a golf club earn the certification of being "Salmon-Safe"? After passing an exhaustive assessment that verifies whether the course protects the native habitat, manages water runoff, reduces pesticides and advances environmental practices through the region where the club is located in Shelton, Washington.
The Squaxin Island Tribe’s new Salish Cliffs Golf Club has earned that certification, becoming the first “Salmon-Safe”-certified golf course in the world. Salish Cliffs Golf Club, the brand-new, 18-hole championship course and amenity of Little Creek Casino Resort, has led the way in creating a top flight golf course while keeping protecting, and enhancing, the environment as a main goal.
"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," a press release stated. "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."
One of the details that garnered the "Salmon-Safe" certification is a "highly technical and efficient water treatment system that generates Class A reuse water from Little Creek Casino Resort," which is owned and operated by the Squaxin Island Tribe. 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 team that delivered the certification to Salish Cliffs are experts in the varied fields of stream ecology, storm water management, golf course design, and landscape management. The Salmon-Safe certification validated the success of Tribe’s efforts to expand upon their businesses while being stewards of the environment. Their environmental efforts included protecting wetlands and streams, preserving existing trees, and ensuring the land is protected.
The certification team offered several recommendations that the Tribe is already at work on. One is an effort to minimize storm water pollution from its clubhouse parking lot by installing a rain garden and implementing other innovative methods to help minimize storm water runoff.
Another proactive move the Tribe has taken to take care of the environment is to reduce and/or eliminated pesticides that are used at Salish Cliffs that could be harmful to salmon. The wildlife habitat on the golf course continues to be expanded by the Tribe.
“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.”