To the Editor of the Sequim Gazette,
Thank you for the article last Wednesday, Developer Breaks the Mold, bringing attention to the wonderful efforts of Bill and Esther Littlejohn in saving 40 acres of “old” Sequim farmland. It may be Sequim’s Central Park some day, in the not too distant future.
I want to bring some additional positive elements of that project to your attention. It was awarded $750,000, by the Recreation and Conservation Office, to the City of Sequim because in addition to the Friends of the Fields Foundation becoming involved, there was an information consortium of cooperators that put together an application to the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s new Farmland Preservation Program. Included in that informal group is the North Olympia Land Trust, the City of Sequim, especially Jim Bay, Sequim City Council, the Smith Family, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, and the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office, www.rco.wa.gov. Important features of the project include more than farmland.
The project farmland’s east boundary is adjacent to the buffer of Geirin Creek, in the Dungeness River watershed. Coho, the critical fall-cum salmon, and winter steelhead spawn in it. Preserving the project farmland will preclude any future pollutants coming from a housing development near it.
Additionally, the south face of the ridge on the north side of the Littlejohn Farmland is habitat for the Quercus garryana, or Oregon White Oak, also referred to as the Garry Oak, and the Brittle Prickley Pear Cactus Opuntia fragils. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has identified habitat “priority areas” in urban settings as those with a single Oregon White Oak or with stands of pure oak or oak/conifer associations. This slope serves as an important habitat for wildlife and qualifies as an Oregon White Oak “priority area.” The cactus, is also growing in small areas on the ridge slope, one of the very few locations in the area where it still exists, even though it was once abundant on the Sequim Prairie and Dungeness Valley. The State status of this plant is under consideration for inclusion in the Washington Natural Heritage Program. Preservation of the Sequim Farmland would not only preserve the open space habitat but also the ridge habitats of oak trees, cactus, and wildlife.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition www.wildliferecreation.org also, in 2006, took the lead in creating the Farmland Preservation Program and efforts to increase the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s 2008-2009 budget to $103 million, including over $9 million for Farmland Preservation. Included on the Board of the Coalition is J. Lennox Scott, owner of J.L. Scott Real Estate. I propose Sequim’s realtors join with Lennox and help Sequim follow the lead of Bill and Esther in continuing to apply for these grants to retire development rights on a few of the remaining farmland parcels in Sequim’s city limits. I also recommend exploring the two web sites listed above for additional information and ideas.