Farmland Preservation Highlighted At Conference

hagan erik-sizedThurston County Comissioner Sandra Romero and Long Range Planning Manager Cynthia Wilson were expert panelists at a national conference held last week in Lexington, Ky. on local successes and best practices for preserving working farmland. The Farmland, Food and Livable Communities conference was organized by the American Farmland Trust and showcased Romero, Wilson, and other leaders of exemplary local programs discussing how they use multiple tools to protect land and support agriculture.

With a wide variety of speakers and special guests, the conference encouraged greater understanding and collaboration to support agricultural viability and the benefits of responsible conservation practices. During their panel session, Commissioner Romero and Cynthia Wilson shared with attendees how Thurston County is using a number of policy tools that are in place or being developed to protect and promote local agriculture and natural resource lands. These programs, such as the Voluntary Stewardship Program and Conservation Futures, help preserve farm lands from non-agricultural development and keep farming practices sustainable while protecting the environment and water quality.

“It’s important to find new ways to sustain agriculture in Thurston County,” said Comissioner Romero, who spoke at the conference last Wednesday morning. “I wanted to share the successes we’ve achieved locally, like the Bountiful Byway and other agritourism programs, to show that it is possible to preserve a rural way of life while still managing growth and supporting the overall local economy.”

The American Farmland Trust is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land. They work with communities across the nation to implement policies and programs that keep farmers on their land and protect the environment.

“It was a great opportunity to share our own programs and hear how different communities support and preserve farmland,” said Wilson. “There was a lot of interest in our Conservation Futures program, which sets aside money every year to purchase and preserve working lands in the county.”

To learn more about the Thurston County Long Range Planning Division and our local planning programs, please visit www.ThurstonPlanning.org.

Thurston Co. - 29 October, 2014