State: $2.3 million to East Clallam
May 16, 2007
Four environmental restoration, recreation and farmland preservation projects will bring in the neighborhood of $2.3 million in state funding to eastern Clallam County.
The Washington state Legislature doubled funding for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program from $50 million to $100 million in its 2007-2009 capital budget.
The WWRP grant money funds projects that protect wildlife habitat, create outdoor recreation areas like parks and preserve working farmland. Four Clallam County projects were submitted to the governor and legislators by the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation, the group that decides what projects get funded by the WWRP grants.
Two of the four projects were created to buy development rights on two active pieces of farmland in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley — 41 acres that Gary Smith leases for Maple View Farm and the Dungeness Valley Creamery property.
“So far so good,” Friends of the Fields president Jim Aldrich said. “There are just two more things: we need to appraise the property and have the interagency board allocate the funds.”
Friends of the Fields has been holding different fundraisers in order to match the Legislature’s dollars, part of the requirement to receive state funding.
“The $28 to preserve farmland campaign was very successful,” Aldrich said. “We have our funding that we feel is reasonably close to what we need to match the state’s contribution and a lot of that is thanks to the North Olympic Land Trust.”
The organizations are providing funds for both of the conservation easements. Aldrich said that the Dungeness Valley Creamery, one of the last two dairy operations in the county, was a replacement for the 24 acres of land that Nash Huber leases for Dungeness Organic Farm. The acquisition of that land’s development rights became unfeasible after discussions with the landowner.
“There are so many reasons why conserving development on some historically farmed land is a great idea,” Sarah Brown with the Dungeness Valley Creamery said. “Farming is a way of life. My family and I love to do this and would like to see it continue as well on the farmland around us.”
Brown said that it is important to have a farming community, rather than a single preserved farm because the different facilities can help each other and create good working relationships that help the industry stay competitive. She said that undeveloped farmland has come in handy in the past.
“During the Depression (the rate of) agriculture production didn’t go down,” Brown said. “People needed the food during those tough times and went back to the farms. What if we have an economic emergency and all we have are houses on land?”
The Dungeness Valley Creamery’s main product is whole milk, which the Brown family delivers as far as Seattle and Olympia. The land is 38 acres in size, but a few acres were set aside for an additional structure for the farm or the Brown family.
Aldrich said that by buying the development rights on these properties Clallam County, the city of Sequim, FOF and NOLT place a conservation easement over the entire acreage. He said that easements are unique to each property. Usually they prohibit any development, with occasional exceptions for individual farm or family structures, which would have to be included in the easement in detail so that they are not used for loopholes for development in the future.
“The easement ensures that the land will remain an open space and will help it remain a viable farming operation,” Aldrich said. “The IAC should reach a decision next month and we move forward from there.”
The IAC also included nearly $1 million for Clallam County to construct a pedestrian walkway connecting the Olympic Discovery Trail at each riverbank that will run underneath a soon-to-be constructed Elwha River bridge.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife received $200,000 to do riverbank restoration projects along portions of Morse Creek on either side of U.S. Highway 101. The project will restore high quality mainstream, side channel and off-channel habitat that has been altered as a result of human activity.
For a complete list of grant projects and more information on the IAC or the WWRP grants, visit www.iac.wa.gov.