OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board will recognize Skagit County at a special presentation on Tuesday for an outstanding project to conserve valuable farmland.
Skagit County took the top score in a statewide competition for grant funding in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s Farmland Preservation category, a grant program designed to conserve the state’s most valuable farmland for future generations.
“This farmland is important,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grant program. “The long daylight hours, mild maritime climate and fertile soils make the Skagit Valley one of the few places in the world where vegetable seed can be produced. Because the Skagit Valley produces between 50 percent and 75 percent of the world’s spinach and cabbage seed, these properties have an importance far beyond the local level. The land also supports a variety of migratory bird species, including the Wrangell Island Snow Geese, which is protected by international treaties.”
Skagit County was awarded a $319,000 grant to conserve 264 acres of the Smith farm on Fir Island. The land has been farmed for more than a century and is designated as farmland of long-term commercial significance and prime farmland by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and Skagit County. The farm will be protected by a permanent agricultural conservation easement.
The county contributed $319,000 in conservation futures to match the state funding.
Skagit County competed against 16 other local agencies for the grant from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. The Legislature created the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program in 1990 to buy land before it was developed and to create outdoor recreation areas for the state’s growing population.
“These grants are very competitive,” Cottingham said. “To be awarded a grant, the applicant must show the property is valuable farmland, that the community supports its preservation and that the price is reasonable. This helps ensure that only the best projects get funded.”
Harriet Spanel, a member of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, will present a check representing the funding available for these projects at the regular commission meeting:
Information about the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board is available online at www.rco.wa.gov.
Skagit County Commission Meeting
10 a.m., January 12
1800 Continental Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273