Protected farmland acres in the Stillaguamish Valley surpass 400
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STANWOOD, WA — Since 2018, Washington Farmland Trust has prioritized the Stillaguamish Valley as an important area for conservation, working in close collaboration with the Stillaguamish Tribe, Snohomish Conservation District, local farmers, and other stakeholder groups to develop a shared strategy for a resilient future in the region. Today, we are proud to share that we have protected two new farms in perpetuity, bringing our total conserved acres in the area to 426.
Like many farming communities across Washington state, the Stillaguamish River Valley is a treasured place. Surrounding communities and ecosystems rely on its river system for clean water, local food, and habitat for fish and wildlife. Conservation in this area is all the more critical as climate change and urban development threaten the valley’s natural resources.
Lund Farm & Williams Farm protected forever
The 172-acre Lund Farm sits adjacent to Johnson Farm, 173 acres we protected in 2018. This allows for the protection of a contiguous block of prime farmland, helping to maintain the agricultural character of the landscape. Father-son pair Larry and Gary Lund have farmed in the Stanwood area for much of their lives and are grateful to know their land will remain a farm.
Williams Farm sits right along the south fork of the Stillaguamish River. Garrett Williams is the second generation to work the family farm, which he runs with his father, Rick. Conservation of Williams Farm’s 83 acres helps to ensure the land is affordable to a new generation of farmers in the future.
“With the addition of these two farms, we have now protected more than 400 acres of farmland in one of our highest priority areas,” said Robin Fay, Senior Conservation Manager in the North Puget Sound. “We are grateful to our partners for their dedication to solving some of our region’s most complex problems, and proud to work together to create a better future for local communities and the natural world.”
Balancing permanence with climate change uncertainties
Given its proximity to Puget Sound, farmland in the Stillaguamish Valley is uniquely positioned in the landscape. Climate impacts such as sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, and flooding cause daily challenges for farmers concerned about the future viability of farmland, from both a natural resource and economic perspective.
These constraints and barriers have pushed us to think creatively alongside our partners about ways we can adapt our conservation tools to account for the uncertainties of a changing climate. For these two projects in the Stilly Valley, that has meant reimagining our conservation easement language – a tool focused on permanence – to account for a landscape that simply might not be viable for farming in 50-100 years. In that scenario, the land would still remain protected forever, but the land holder would have the ability to transition management of the property to benefit fish and wildlife or flood reduction if needed. Unsettling as it may be to imagine a future threatened by climate change, this shift in our easement language allows us to protect prime farmland now while remaining flexible about how land is managed into the future.
“It is very important to support the lands that support our food source, whether it is agricultural or tribal traditional foods such as salmon and shellfish,” said the Stillaguamish Tribal Chairman Shawn Yanity. “Protecting our collective food sources and culture from development or flood damage is vital for the people of the Stillaguamish Tribe and people of the Stillaguamish valley. No matter the ‘crop,’ this land will produce food in perpetuity!”
This small but meaningful innovation is a win-win for the local farming community as well as the Indigenous communities who have been in relationship with the land since time immemorial. Together, we are focused on upholding the many benefits that the landscape provides, all in service of long-term resilience.
This project was made possible thanks to funding from The Washington State Conservation Commission and the Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design Program. Drone footage by Theo Monnin.
Molly Goren, Communications Director | firstname.lastname@example.org | 206-777-4053
About Washington Farmland Trust
Washington Farmland Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and accredited land trust that protects and stewards threatened farmland across the state. We keep land in production by making it accessible to a new generation of farmers. Since our founding by PCC Community Markets over 20 years ago, we have conserved 27 farms, nearly 3,000 acres. Learn more at wafarmlandtrust.org.