100 Acres of Washington Farmland Conserved - Columbia Land Trust
The Pearson Family and Columbia Land Trust protect organic dairy farmland and keep our food sources close to home

Did you know that if you drink Organic Valley milk or eat Cascadia Creamery cheese, you are directly supporting a co-op of small family farms across the Northwest including a family-owned dairy farm that Columbia Land Trust has worked with for nearly ten years? 

Columbia Land Trust conserved 100 acres of productive farmland in the heart of Trout Lake, Washington this May through the purchase of an agricultural conservation easement from the Pearson family – an accomplishment six years in the making. This is the second conservation project we have had the privilege of working on with the Pearsons and their organic dairy farm. In 2020, we protected 261 acres of productive haying and pasture ground, which provides nourishment for the family’s herd of dairy cows. This new conservation easement protects additional summer pasture ground, as well as essential operational buildings and equipment that bring the farm’s sustainable dairy products to grocery store shelves. 

Located at the base of the southern flank of Mt. Adams, the soil in Trout Lake is rich and fertile. The valley is bisected by the glacier-fed waters of the White Salmon River and is a stronghold for family-owned dairy farms in our region. For over twenty years, the Trout Lake valley has been a priority conservation area for Columbia Land Trust, with the goal of protecting the vital agricultural land here.  

Conserving farms like the Pearson’s helps keep our food sources close to home while providing jobs to the local community. It also benefits wildlife, like the state-endangered sandhill cranes that can be spotted grazing in pastureland in the spring. 

The Pearson’s organic agricultural practices are certified by Oregon Tilth, indicating that the farm operates at the highest standards for sustainability. For example, the fields are fertilized with dairy manure, and the amount of fertilization is precise, minimizing the likelihood of excess leaching into groundwater. Irrigation water is routed from the nearby White Salmon River and applied using an efficient center-pivot irrigation system. 

“Trout Lake is a special place and its farmland is facing significant conversion pressure,” said Land Trust Conservation Lead Nate Ulrich. “The Pearsons are committed to good land stewardship and community, and this opportunity existed only because of their vision.” 

In Trout Lake, conservation supports a diversity of people, communities, and wildlife. Our team is excited about this recent conservation success and looks forward to future collaboration with farmers in Trout Lake. 

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This project was made possible by funding from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.