Finn Hall Farm, a 60-acre working farm in the Dungeness Valley, is on track to receive permanent protection thanks to a last-minute federal grant and a state deadline extension.
A federal grant of $853,853 will go to Clallam County, the project's official sponsor, which will disburse the funds to the North Olympic Land Trust. A state grant for $868,075 already had been approved according to Greg Good, the land trust's executive director.
The federal grant is from the Natural Resource Conservation Service's Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and state funds are from the Recreation and Conservation Office's Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.
Aldrich wrote proposal
"Volunteers from Friends of the Fields did a tremendous amount of work over the past three years to work with the farm's owners, handle grant applications and raise money," Good said.
Jim Aldrich, former president of Friends of the Fields and now a board member of the North Olympic Land Trust, wrote the successful proposal.
Friends of the Fields is a division of the land trust following a merger of the two nonprofit organizations earlier this year.
The amount of funding required is based on official appraisals of the farmland if it were developed according to county zoning, as well as such costs as legal work and ongoing stewardship to make sure conditions of the agreement are upheld, Good said.
Started in '07
Friends of the Fields leaders began working with Finn Hall Farm owners John and Carmen Jarvis and their heirs in 2007. The Jarvis family wanted the farm to remain in agricultural production, but John and Carmen wanted to retire.
Although $225,000 had been raised to protect Finn Hall Farm, that was far short of the state grant's matching requirement. After missing one deadline for state grant matching funds, Friends of the Fields leaders applied again for the state grant and the project again was chosen for funding. They also applied for federal funds for the required match.
"We'd about given up because we thought the federal funds had been used up and another state deadline passed," Good said. "But the same day we received notice of the additional federal funds, we also got word that the state grant deadline had been extended."
Total: 331 acres
When the Finn Hall Farm conservation easement is completed, 331 acres of farmland in the Dungeness Valley will be protected permanently in Clallam County under the legal agreements the land trust is upholding in perpetuity.
The land trust and farmland protection group collaborated on permanent protection of the 38-acre Dungeness Valley Creamery, also protected through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and matching funds raised by the two groups.
Friends of the Fields purchased 30 acres of Olympic Valley Farm after an extensive fundraising effort. After placing a conservation easement, which the land trust upholds, on that land, the farmland protection group sold it to John and Heather Erskine for raising draft horses and other farming.
Friends of the Fields also arranged to protect 40 acres of Bill and Esther Littlejohns' land. The Littlejohns donated their development rights, and the city
of Sequim has responsibility for upholding the conservation easement in perpetuity.
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