Grant, partnership preserve 154-acre Pierce County farm

Pierce County will permanently conserve 154 acres of farmland in the Puyallup River Valley thanks in part to a Washington State Department of Ecology grant.

The $525,000 grant from the state agency’s “Floodplains by Design” program serves as the final funding piece to acquire and conserve the “Matlock Farm” in the Puyallup River Valley at Alderton. By purchasing the development rights and placing a conservation easement on the property, the land will be permanently conserved as farmland. Future property owners can continue to work the property as a farm.

“Once the property is conserved later this year, it will represent the largest farmland conservation project in Pierce County’s history,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “Protecting this property is good for farmers, fish and Pierce County’s rural character.”

The property acquisition will include 30 acres of riparian and floodplain habitat along the Puyallup River, and a conservation easement on the remaining 124 acres to protect the property for agricultural and open space uses. The county will remove several fish passage barriers and increase the riparian corridor along Ball Creek, a salmon-bearing stream that flows through a portion of the property.

Forterra, a locally-based conservation and community development organization, worked in coordination with Pierce County and with the support of the Pierce County Agriculture Roundtable, to identify and help secure the necessary funding.

“Farming is an important part of Pierce County’s heritage,” said Jordan Rash, Forterra’s conservation director. “We’re excited to move this project forward with Pierce County and other stakeholders to ensure that it and other farms like it will continue to provide value for the community, the economy and the environment.”

In addition to the Department of Ecology grant, $1.1 million from Pierce County Conservation Futures will purchase the conservation easement, and $300,000 of Public Works and Utilities Surface Water Management funds will purchase the riparian areas and design the removal of fish barriers on Ball Creek.

“Strong partnerships with Forterra and the farming community help us achieve large, complex projects with multiple benefits,” added McCarthy.

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