Pierce County, Forterra agreement preserves Puyallup Valley farm

One of the largest farms in Pierce County will be preserved and farmed for generations to come thanks to an agreement reached this week between the county and a local land conservation organization.

Through a deal crafted by Pierce County and Forterra, Pierce County made two purchases totaling $1.73 million involving the 153-acre Matlock Farm, which has been owned and stewarded by the Matlock family for more than 60 years — and has been operated as a working farm for more than 100 years. Pierce County purchased a conservation easement and development rights on 116 acres of the property, protecting it from development. To complete the deal, two local family farmers then bought the farmland, which they will own and manage for agricultural purposes. In addition, Pierce County used a grant from the Washington Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design Program to purchase the remaining 37 acres along the Puyallup River and Ball Creek to protect the waterways. Pierce County plans to restore the floodplain and riparian buffers along the river and Ball Creek, including the removal of several fish passage barriers.

“Protecting this property fairly compensates the existing landowners for their long-term investment, makes the land affordable for new farmers, and keeps the land for farming and open space forever,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Whether we live in cities, suburbs or out in the country, we all benefit from local farms.”

According to Pierce County officials, thousands of acres of farmland in Pierce County have been converted to non-farm uses over the last several decades. To reverse this trend, Pierce County, through its Agriculture Program, is partnering with Forterra and more than a dozen other stakeholders to conserve farmlands using market-based mechanisms.

“By guaranteeing that the property will forever be a working farm, we can ensure that it will continue to provide community, economic, and environmental benefits for generations to come,” said Forterra Conservation Director Jordan Rash. “Forterra is committed to working with Pierce County, farmers, and other partners to ensure that both farmers and farmlands continue to be an integral part of our future as our region grows.”

“As stewards of the property for more than 60 years, we are very happy to see it go to the next generation of Puyallup Valley farmers,” said Ivan Matlock, co-owner of the farm. “Forterra has been an exceptional partner for our family.”


To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Pierce County Agriculture Program, click on the following links: