Washington’s Trout Lake Valley might not be one of the Northwest’s most recognizable landscapes, but that has more to do with its remote location—set 20 miles north of the Columbia River—than a lack of scenery. Parted by the White Salmon River and flanked by the massive southern face of Mount Adams, the farmsteads and pastures…Read More
The Big Picture
Nestled at the base of Mount Adams, Trout Lake Valley’s some 2,000 acres are a farm paradise of rich, fertile soils. Intersected by the glacier-fed waters of the Wild and Scenic White Salmon River, the valley is dedicated almost exclusively to agriculture. What makes Trout Lake Valley paradisiacal for famers, however, also makes it attractive to developers. Columbia Land Trust began working with farmers in the valley more than a decade ago to find solutions to the growing pressure to sell their land for development. More recently, we partnered with a fourth-generation dairy farmer to place a conservation easement on his land—one that ensures his organic farm will never become a housing development and will continue to be farmed.
Why It Matters
Farmland has been lost an alarming rate in the United States, and when farms are located in a place like Trout Lake, the pace of loss can accelerate. “People stop us and want to know if we’re willing to sell,” one Trout Lake Valley farmer told us. Our region’s farms, orchards, and ranches are part of the Northwest’s cultural heritage—and they keep our food supplies close to home. They also provide jobs and create tight-knit communities in our rural areas. Yet farmlands are increasingly being bought and converted into housing projects, commercial campuses, and other ventures. Helping farmers and ranchers conserve productive farmland from development is a priority for Columbia Land Trust.