With the start of 2017, Mark Buford has officially taken the reins of the Northwest Clean Air Agency after the retirement of Mark Asmundson, the former Bellingham mayor.
Buford, who has been with the agency for 15 years, including time as deputy director, is the agency’s fifth executive director in its 50-year history, according to a news release.
The Northwest Clean Air Agency enforces local, state and federal air-quality regulations in Island, Skagit and Whatcom counties.
Buford lives with his family on Lummi Island in Whatcom County, and is ready to continue working to ensure clean air, according to the release.
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“This area is one of the most beautiful places in the world,” he said in the release. “One thing that contributes to that is the quality of our air.”
Skagit and Whatcom counties were recognized in 2016 by the American Lung Association as two of the cleanest counties in the country. Bellingham is one of eight cities in the country consistently identified as having low levels of particle pollution and ozone.
“Our communities have achieved remarkably clean air without sacrificing good jobs or our ability to make things. I attribute this success to the values we hold as a region,” Buford said. “Our citizens believe in the importance of a healthy economy and a healthy environment … It’s very rewarding for us at NWCAA, and for me personally, to live and work among people that believe in the value of our work.”
Asmundson has said he is confident in Buford’s abilities to take on the role of executive director. Asmundson left the agency after 10 years in the position.
He is retiring to Las Vegas with his family.