Stewardship of the Land
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
The North Olympic Land Trust is a nonprofit community based organization that has conserved over 3,000 acres of farmland, fish habitat and forest since its inception in 1990. Executive Director, Tom Sanford, says they’ve done this primarily through a tool called a conservation easement - a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently protects a property’s conservation values by removing intensive development opportunities from the land forever. Sanford explains why more and more farmers are choosing to work with a land trust organization to conserve and protect their land.
SANFORD: It starts with that internal desire to conserve local agriculture land. From there there are a couple opportunities that give them incentives to do this; one is the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which provides some funding to help purchase those rights. There’s also the Farm and Ranch Protection Program that comes at the federal level that can help with that. And so a land trust will work with a landowner to figure out what it is they want for their property for the long run, really in the farming case make sure the property is really there and usable for farming.
Once a conservation easement is put in place it’s the job of the land trust to make sure the terms of it are met.
SANFORD: We will come out on a once a year basis to check in with the landowner and make sure the terms they agreed to are being met, and if they aren’t to help them get back into compliance. One of the great things about a conservation easement is it follows title, so as a property is sold from generation to generation to different landowners the easement is permanent.
For more information and to find out how you can become a member visit northolympiclandtrust.org.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.