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pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs. It means nurturing the ecosystem and establishing a local and sustain- able model of agriculture that supports the health of people, while contributing to the protection of the en- vironment. So its no surprise that of the 40 Salmon- Safe certified farms, ranches and vineyards across British Columbia, 24 are organic, leading the charge in protecting local rivers and the fish stocks that rely on them.

Salmon-Safe F

By Costanza Testino

or most BC organic farmers, being organic means more than simply avoiding persistent synthetic

Salmon-Safe is a relatively new eco-label that recog- nizes progressive, environmentally-friendly manage- ment practices that protect Pacific salmon habitat and enhance water quality on agricultural and urban lands. Some of the most fertile farm lands coincide with salmon habitat, however proximity to a body of water is not a requirement of Salmon-Safe certification.

The program began in Oregon in 1996, and was launched in BC in 2010 by the Pacific Salmon Foun- dation and Fraser Basin Council. It is now one of the leading regional eco-labels in the Pacific Northwest – with more than 85,000 acres certified in critical West Coast agricultural watersheds ranging from northern California to the Fraser River and the Salmon River in British Columbia.

Similar to organic certification, Salmon-Safe is a third-party certification program. It relies on indepen- dent inspectors to assess farm-management practices against a thorough set of biologically-based standards. The standards have been developed by scientists and farmers with the intention of promoting landscape-lev- el conservation and protection of biological diversity.

Since salmon are a keystone species in the Pacific Northwest and their conservation is tightly intertwined with the health of a much larger ecosystem. Many or- ganic practices go hand-in-hand with Salmon-Safe standards. Standards are organized into seven catego- ries covering key areas of habitat vulnerability most critical to salmon survival:

In-stream Habitat Protection and Restoration

Stream channels provide habitat for salmon and other aquatic species by naturally stabilizing stream banks

Page 22 The Salmon-Safe logo displayed on raspberries and squash.

and accumulating large and small woody debris. Woody debris slows stream flows, and provides shelter and nourishment.

Riparian and Wetland Vegetation Protection and Restoration

Intact riparian zones and wetland protection are critical to maintain water quality and the health and function of streams and the species within them. Wetlands are like salmon nurseries where fish can feed and grow, away from fast-flowing stream waters.

Water Use Management

Water withdrawal from waterways can reduce in- stream flows, and reduce habitat for aquatic species that live in water and feed salmon.

Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control

Sediment delivery to fish-bearing streams is a major cause of habitat degradation, particularly for gravel beds where salmon spawn. Sediment can coat eggs, depriving them of oxygen. Potential upland sources of erosion are farm roads, agricultural fields and pastures.

BC Organic Grower, Volume 17, Number 1, Winter 2014

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