Diverse agriculture – for both produce and reforestation

A conservation easement on a 66-acre conifer seed orchard allows continued harvests of high quality, non-GMO seeds for reforesting projects in the Pacific Northwest. The US Navy and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program funded the project, which resulted in two permanent conservation easements on property owned by Sierra Pacific Industries. The Navy holds an easement that restricts development on the property. In addition, we hold a second easement restricting uses incompatible with farming and protection of wildlife habitat. Safety, seeds, and scenic open space – the community got it all with this one!

Keeping this land in agriculture offers many public benefits. The US Navy now has a permanent safety buffer for training flights in the outlying field (OLF). The aquifer beneath Smith Prairie is protected, helping maintain a safe, clean water supply for Whidbey Island. Small mammals and birds, particularly raptors, will continue to have habitat for food and safe nesting areas. And, the public will enjoy scenic views at the southern gateway to the Ebey’s Reserve forever.

Mike Brady of Navy Real Estate described the conservation easement, “It’s a three-way win. Sierra Pacific can plan for the long-term use of the property; the Land Trust follows its mission of protecting productive agricultural lands; and the Navy enhances safety near OLF where pilots practice touch and go landings for carrier-based jets.”

Long-time Ebey’s Prairie farmer Al Sherman says, “The soil is thin and pervious, marginal for most other crops, and easy to work. The dry conditions stress the trees so they produce more seed. And it’s in a noise zone. I appreciate the Land Trust’s work on this.”