Farmland Zero Net Loss

The Sustainable Thurston Plan – “Creating Places Preserving Spaces – a Sustainable Development Plan for the Thurston Region” – articulates the importance of our resource lands:

Priority Goal
Preserve environmentally sensitive lands, farmlands, forest lands, prairies, and rural lands and develop compact urban areas.  

Supporting Target 
No Net Loss of farmlands, forest lands, prairie habitats (in addition to environmentally critical areas that area currently protected) while providing for a range of densities within rural Thurston County.

The Thurston Regional Planning Council recently set 2016 priorities, which includes exploring tools and strategies for reaching 0 Net Loss. The Thurston Food Systems Council also selected 0 Net Loss as a priority activity in 2015-16.  

Farmland Zero Net Loss - Setting the Stage (PDF)

For more information contact:
Loretta Seppanen
Thurston Food System Council Member
laurel.lodge@comcast.net

Thurston Region
Farmland Snapshot

Farm_Info_thumb

   
View the Thurston Region
Farmland Snapshot
Programs and Policies 
    

Programs and Policies
Permanence
of protection
Acres protected or enrolled in Thurston County Opportunities to make program more effective Who needs to make a change

Agricultural and Conservation Easements

A voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust which permanently limits the use of the land to protect its agricultural or conservation value.
   

 High
 
2,095
 
More $
 
County, State, Federal

Fee Simple Purchase by a land trust or conservation agency

Acquisition of land by a land trust or conservation agency.
 
 
High
 
302
 
More $
 
County, State, Federal

Purchase of Development Rights (PDR)

Thurston County has the potential to purchase and retire development rights from resource land owners as it did in the 1990’s.
  
 
High
 
942
 
Fund & Increase Awareness
 
County

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)

Allows owners of property in a designated sending area to gain credit for unused development rights that can be sold and transferred to another property in designated receiving area.
  
 
High
 
181
 
Improve Policy & Increase Awareness
 
County, Local, Jurisdictions

Rural Resource Cluster Development

Mitigates the loss of farmland by clustering residential lots in a development, and setting aside 60% to 90% of the land area into a large resource parcel.
  
 
High
 
875
 
Policy Change & Increase Awareness
 
County

Current Use Open Space Farm and Agriculture Tax Program

Protects farm lands by allowing taxation at current use rate rather than highest and best use.
  
 
Low
 
34,237
 
Policy Change
 
State

Current Use Open Space Tax Program

Protects farm lands that currently do not meet the farm and agricultural requirements but have a high potential of returning to farming in the future by allowing taxation at current use rate rather than highest and best use.
  
 
Low
 
736
 
Increase Awareness & Reduce Fee
 
County

Long-Term Agriculture Zoning

Designates areas within the county where agriculture is intended to be the primary use.
  

Medium

12,320

Add Land to Zone

County

 
Funding

    
Funding Existing/ New 2015 Amount
(varies by year)
Potential Amount Who needs to make the change?

Conservation Futures
Open space and farmland conservation program funded by property tax revenues.
 

  Existing
 
$1 million per year
 
Additional $400,000 per year

Thurston County with voter approval

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) Farmland Preservation Grants
Comptetitive State Grant - farmland purchase of easement to ensure the land remain available for farming in the future.
 

Existing

$4 million per biennium statewide

?

State

US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Services - Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)
Competitive Federal Grant - specifically to fund the purchase of agricultureal conservation easements
  
Existing $700,000
statewide
? Federal

Seek special US Department of Agriculture funding via a grant from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
Competitve Federal Grant - designed for local partners to design and invest in conservation projects specifically tailored for their communities including farmland preservation projects.
 
 
New

n/a

Multi-million dollars over several years

Local coalition of partners

Additional Real Estate Excise Transfer (REET) Tax
New Tax - up to 1% of selling price paid by the purchase of real property.
 
New

n/a

?

Thurston County or voter initiative

Individual Impact Investors
Investment Fund.
   



New


n/a


?


?

Portion of recording fee for farmland preservation
Reallocation of existing fee.
    

New

n/a

?

?

One-time or special legislative funding
Such as $s for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Account, State Conservation Commission.

Special

$9 million

?

State