Lewis Street boat launch to get park, two farms paid to stay agricultural —

Lewis Street boat launch to get park, two farms paid to stay agricultural

By Polly Keary; Nov. 7, 2006 © The Monroe Monitor

Two Monroe farms and a Monroe park
are slated to receive more than $800,000
in funds in order to preserve farmland
and increase public access to the river,
pending the governor’s approval of the
2006-2007 budget.

Broer’s Organic Berry Farm and the
Werkhoven dairy farm, both in the
Tualco Valley, would receive a combination
of state and county funds that would
purchase from those farmers the rights to
ever develop their farmland into anything
other than farms.

And about $250,000 would go to
building a park and improving access at
the Lewis Street Public Access site on the
Skykomish River.

Most of the money will come to the
projects through the Washington
Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, an
organization that only recently became
involved in the effort to save farmland.

“We leverage funding for parks, trails
habitats and now working farms,” said
Joanna Grist, spokesperson for the
WWRP. “We’re really excited about helping
keep our farmland.”

The WWRP, a group that usually gets
about $50 million each year from the
state to apportion to public lands projects
around the state, this year informed
counties that they would also seek to
requisition funds to buy development
rights from farmers, ensuring that farmland
would remain in agriculture in perpetuity.

Snohomish County, already the author
of a successful, if limited, Purchase of
Development Rights program, applied
for funds, and took applications from
farmers interested in selling their development
rights.

“Snohomish County’s Purchase of
Development Rights program (PDR)
is a proven and valuable tool in the
revival of local agriculture,” the
WWRP said in a press release. “The
program’s goal is to preserve farmland
in the unique and fertile Tualco
Valley… [t]his farmland is designated
for commercial significance
under the Growth Management Act
and is under development pressure
from a fast growing community. Our
PDR program provides capital for
farm investment, affordable farmland
for new farmers and retirement
options for landowners.”

“Broer’s Organic Berry Farm was
granted $273,050 and the
Werkhoven dairy was granted
$143,050 in the WWRP budget
request.

“The 54-acre Broer’s Organic Berry
Farm… grows a wide variety of
berries for farmer’s markets, farmstand
sales and even for wine,” said
the WWRP. “They also lease additional
farmland, so their presence in
the valley is greater than their farm’s
acreage would indicate.”

The Werkhovens also lease land
outside their own 42 acres, and the
farm is adjacent to the first PDR protected
farm in Snohomish County,
the Chester Hoberg farm, and both
farms are adjacent to others the
WWRP would like to see get PDR
protection in the future.

Snohomish County will match
those grants, bringing the Broer’s
award to $546,100 and the
Werkhoven grant to $286,100.

Although the state budget is not
approved yet, the farms and the boat
launch are virtually assured of the
funding, because the state has granted
the WWRP’s requests the last eight
years in a row, said Grist. Snohomish
County has already committed to
matching those funds.

The Lewis Street Boat Launch
funds will make possible a day use
park on the river near the Lewis Street
bridge in Monroe.

Along the 76 miles of the State
Scenic River System there are only
two sites where the recreation public
can legally and safely get to or view
the river,” said the WWRP. “The project
will convert the site into a day use
park with off-highway parking, river
views, and safe trail access to and
along the river.”

“It’s a real priority for local fisherman,”
said Mike Ferrell, director of
parks for the City of Monroe.

Monroe_Monitor_Nov_7_2006(480kb)

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