Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary
“Mitigation That Works”
Paine Field Airport Home
< Wetland Compensation Bank Program - Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary
In the late 1990s, Snohomish County began the development
of a wetland mitigation bank with the help of the Department of Ecology, the
Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the
Federal Aviation Administration.
Before Snohomish County, which owns and operates Paine Field, could impact several small
wetlands on airport property for runway safety projects, it needed to create new wetlands. The
50-acre Narbeck Wetland site, and the 13-acre Swanson Wetland site located at the south end of
Paine Field, were the result. Creating new wetlands in advance of impacting other
wetlands is called “mitigation banking.”
Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary was dedicated and
opened on July 31, 1999 as a passive recreation and environmental
education public park.
In April, 2008, regulatory agencies determined two properties – the Swanson Wetland Mitigation
Bank and the Narbeck Wetland Mitigation Bank – fully met all environmental performance
standards and the mitigation credits were made available for use.
In September, 2008, Snohomish County
received top honors from the Washington State Department of Ecology
for its approved wetland mitigation banks, the first in the state to receive full local, state
and federal accreditation.
Bill Lewallen, the county’s airport deputy director, also was honored by Ecology for his
leadership in completing the wetland-mitigation process during the past 10 years.
Specifically, Ecology awarded the county and Lewallen its Environmental Excellence Award,
which is reserved for “individuals, businesses and organizations showing leadership,
innovation or extraordinary service in protecting, improving or cleaning up the environment.”
“This wetland bank is an environmental and economic achievement,” said County Executive Aaron
Reardon. “It speaks to the effort Snohomish County is making toward balancing
growth with environmental protection, and it shows that our county staff is among the best in
The 60 acres of created and preserved wetlands on and near airport property can now be used by
future county airport projects to offset wetland losses that cannot be avoided. State and
federal laws prohibit the loss of most wetlands due to development.
“These banks were only possible through the collaborative efforts of the federal and state
agencies, Snohomish County and the airport nearly a decade ago," said Col. Anthony Wright,
commander of the Corps’ Seattle District.
Ecology is working with other private and public agencies across the state to create more
wetland mitigation banks. Ecology officials said Wednesday that the Paine Field wetland banks
are the state’s centerpiece for other projects.
“The future of wetland mitigation will look like the Paine Field bank,” said Jay Manning,
Ecology’s director. “We can use this project as a model, applying the lessons learned from
this banking approach to future projects throughout the state.”
EPA approval is a must for any wetland mitigation bank, and Washington state’s program is
based on federal standards.
“Our region’s wetlands and small streams are not only home to salmon and other threatened and
endangered wildlife, but they also prevent flooding and protect us from storm damage” said
Elin Miller, EPA’s regional administrator in Seattle. “Our new wetland mitigation rule will
help ensure ecological success, while providing greater consistency and predictability for
property owners and developers.”
It is not located right next to the airport, but wetlands with open water can't be too close
in proximity to airport runways because a "bird strike"—where ducks and geese can get sucked
through jet engines—is a dangerous situation.
Swales were graded into the site to help pools form. The collected water, combined with the
water that is already present, flows into Narbeck Creek that meanders through neighborhoods
down to the ocean.
Larger trees were left alone, and more native
plants and trees were planted.
More than 300 volunteers, including many Boeing employees, helped with the plantings. In
pictures, "you can see managers of the 777 program on their hands and knees in a downpour of
rain," Lewallen said.
Snohomish County’s Narbeck wetlands also double as a passive recreational opportunity for
thousands of residents and employees living in the area. The county provided public access to
the Narbeck project with the help of the Friends of Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary.
Narbeck offers two walking trails, a small loop trail and a 1 1/2-mile interpretative trail
around the perimeter, with educational signs and self-guided tours. The public park provides
an outdoor classroom for groups that overlooks an open water habitat which
The Narbeck Wetlands Sanctuary is located at 7007 Seaway Blvd. in west Everett.
Mapquest map. Location Map.
We wish to thank nature photographer extraordinaire, Mary Bess Johnson, for sharing her photos
depicting present-day Narbeck's wildlife, boardwalk, and overhead view. Mary Bess is a member
of the Friends of Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary's Board of Directors.
|Click on an image to enlarge.|
Ringneck Ducks pair leaving public north pond for the privacy of southern pond.
Crow gathering nesting materials.
at home among the
cleaning up after volunteers removed excess growth during recent Earth Day event.
The snowy picnic table
shows how accessible
and close to civilization
the wetland is.
The Airport has presented the success of
their Program in numerous national, state and regional conferences over
the past three years and participates currently in the development of
Washington State Rules for Wetland Mitigation Banking.
For further information on
the Wetland Compensation Bank Program please contact Bill Lewallen, Deputy
Airport Director/Property Development at 425-388-5116 or via e-mail.