The Methow Conservancy said this week that it has permanently conserved the largest unprotected, irrigated farmland property above Winthrop with the purchase of 87 acres near the corner of Kumm Road and Highway 20.
The property will forever be protected for agriculture and open space, according to a Conservancy press release.
The highly-visible property is located in the middle of a corridor of conservation along the Methow River that includes land owned by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, habitat restoration projects led by the Yakama Nation and the Cascade Fisheries Group – and 380 acres already under conservation with private landowners through the Conservancy.
“With 100% prime agricultural soils of statewide significance and a senior water right, the property holds many possibilities for agriculture,” the Conservancy said in the press release.
To date, the Conservancy has worked with willing landowners to protect approximately 1,800 acres of irrigated farmland and 2,700 acres of working rangeland in the valley. Over the next few months, the Conservancy will create a comprehensive management plan to guide irrigation efficiency improvements and will explore the best way to make this farmland available to local farmers now and into the future, according to the release.
“At the Conservancy, we prioritize lands like these for protection because they have high-quality soils, senior water rights and are at high risk of development that would destroy these values,” said Land Program Manager Jeanne White. “Both the land and the water rights are of great importance to local agriculture and our economy, and we know that our community cares about preserving working agriculture in the Upper Valley.”
“Every time we hold a focus group in our community, we hear concerns regarding the conversion of farmland and the incremental loss of both the rural character and agricultural economy of our community,” said Executive Director Jason Paulsen. “We’re working hard to address that concern through this and other exciting conservation projects we have in the pipeline, and we’re grateful for the many landowners who want to see agriculture thrive in the Methow Valley and are willing to work with us.”