Turning the Tide

Boeing recognized by NOAA for habitat restoration

July 16, 2015 in Our Environment

Nearly 100 years since the river was straightened, roughly two percent of the original wildlife habitat remains along the Lower Duwamish Waterway in Seattle, Washington.

Boeing’s habitat restoration project is helping to turn the tide.

The company completed the largest restoration project on the Lower Duwamish Waterway in 2014. This achievement—and the example it sets for future restoration projects—is the reason NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, honored Boeing with its Excellence in Restoration award.

The award is given annually to recognize leaders in coastal restoration who are not only focused on ecological value, but the importance of effective collaboration with project partners. Past winners include a congressman, state restoration and conservation programs, and environmental departments throughout the U.S.

The award was presented to Boeing at a recent event attended by guests representing various municipalities, nonprofit organizations, regulatory agencies and tribes.

“Boeing has chosen to step up and lean in to the restoration of the lower Duwamish here. And it didn’t need to make that choice,” said Will Stelle, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “Reflecting good business sense and good environmental stewardship, Boeing decided not only not to avoid it, but to embrace it and get it done.”

Getting it done meant demolishing the aging Plant 2 facility, restoring the shoreline and transforming nearly one mile of this 5.5 mile industrial waterway into wetland habitat to support fish and wildlife.

This project’s design was overseen by NOAA and the Natural Resource Trustees, which are made up of government agencies and local tribes. The company also worked with the U.S. EPA and Washington Department of Ecology to coordinate its waterway cleanup in conjunction with habitat restoration.

“It is a privilege to receive this award on behalf of Boeing and an honor to be recognized by NOAA,” said Ursula English, Environment, Health & Safety vice president for Boeing. “We hope this project will serve as the inspiration and example for future restoration work.”

Following the remarks, event guests took a boat tour of the Lower Duwamish Waterway to see the transformation of the Plant 2 site, as well as opportunities for additional habitat restoration. Many hadn’t experienced this view of Seattle’s working waterway before and were impressed with the combination of nature, industry and community it supports.

As one attendee said while disembarking the boat, “There was some wildlife I hadn’t seen before. It gives me hope.”