Innovative approach to farm conservation protects farmland in Trout Lake, Washington
This August, Columbia Land Trust conserved 40 acres of agricultural land in Trout Lake, Washington using an innovative new approach to farm conservation called Buy-Protect-Sell. A partnership between the Washington State Conservation Commission and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, Buy-Protect-Sell makes it possible for land trusts to conserve farms facing imminent threat of conversion by accessing the necessary funding much more quickly than was possible using traditional funding sources.
Working with the Schmid Family, who have run an organic dairy farm here since the late 1800s, Columbia Land Trust used a loan and grant funding to purchase the farmland, place a permanent agricultural conservation easement on it, and promptly sell the land back to two of the Schmid sons. The land was able to be sold to the farmers at an affordable price since the new easement extinguished the development rights.
This groundbreaking project accomplished two major things: permanently protecting important farmland that provides organic dairy products to the entire region, and facilitating a transition to the next generation of farmers. This was the first project completed in the state of Washington using this new tool, and it would not have been possible without support and partnership from the Washington Association of Land Trusts, American Farmland Trust, the Washington State Conservation Commission, the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and the Schmid family.