Pierce County and Forterra ensured this week that one of the largest farms in Pierce County will be farmed for generations to come by removing development rights through a conservation easement.
Through a deal crafted by Forterra, Pierce County made two purchases totaling $1.73 million involving the 153-acre Matlock Farm in the Puyallup Valley:
- Through its Conservation Futures program, the 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.
- The county, with a grant from the Washington Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design Program, also purchased the remaining 37 acres along the Puyallup River and Ball Creek to protect the waterways. The 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.”
The Matlock Farm 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.
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 Jordan Rash, the nonprofit's conservation director. “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."
About Pierce County
County Executive Pat McCarthy and the County Council created the Agriculture Initiative to strengthen support for the agriculture community, farming and farmers, and to ensure agriculture remains a viable component of our community. Strategies include combining resources through the Transfer of Development Rights program, the Conservation Futures program, and Surface Water Management programs. Find more information at www.piercecountywa.org/farming.
Forterra is a visionary and effective leader for regional sustainability with a 100-year vision and action plan. To date, Forterra has permanently conserved more than 238,000 acres of land across the region and improved the quality of life for people in over 80 communities. With a successful 25-year history of solving large and complex regional challenges through a land-focused, collaborative approach, today Forterra is taking stock of the rapidly changing conditions in the region’s ecosystems, communities and economies and will produce a vision – updated from its Cascade Agenda: 100-Years Forward published in 2005 – for a healthy and resilient region for all in May 2015. More at forterra.org
Kimberly Freeman, Pierce County Conservation Futures
Conservation Director, Forterra