Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program in Washington protecting National Historic Reserve
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
in Washington protecting National Historic Reserve
A picture of the prime farmland at Ebey's Landing National Historic
In 2007, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
signed a cooperative agreement with the Whidbey Camano Island Land Trust to
acquire development rights for land located in the Ebey's Reserve Farmland,
National Historic Reserve of Island County.
NRCS, Whidbey Camano Land Trust,
Washington State Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation, National Park
Service (NPS), Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve Trust Board, Whidbey
Island Conservation District (WICD).
The challenge is to keep historic and productive farmland from being subdivided
and developed into residential home sites.
The Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP), administered by NRCS, was
used for this project. The identified area was ranked
against other applicants in the state in 2007 through a "Request for Proposal"
process that takes place every year in April. The ranking process takes into
account several factors that are unique about the applications, acres of prime
and unique farmland, how close to urban areas, how much development pressure in
the area, viable farming operation exists on the land, proximity to protected
areas, cost of the easement, dedication of the entity to managing protected
properties, and if the parcel(s) contains a national or state historic cultural
Extra "ranking points" are received for land containing historical or archaeological resources listed in the National
Register of Historic Places. The Ebey's Reserve has such a listing. It is has
been identified as a high protection priority by the National Park Service and
Ebey's Reserve Trust Board. No applications in the past have included this
unique land eligibility factor. The major factor in this program is that the
easement must be purchased from private landowners and must
protect the land in perpetuity from development.
The FRPP has continued to grow in recent years with a current budget of
over $1.5 million. There is never has enough funding to acquire all the
parcels that are nominated. The ability of this program is to preserve farmland, especially lands of cultural value, into perpetuity is definitely a good use
of tax payer dollars for generations to come.
A challenge for the partners is to acquire identified parcels in the agreement
before the value of land continues to increase from development pressure. The
trust has established a priority order for purchases and if the identified land
owners are willing participants, then FRPP funds will be used. NRCS and the
partners are committed to acquiring at least six properties in the next 12 months.
Future acquisitions through NRCS are dependent on funding and successful