More Ebey's land protected

"In a deal more than two years in the making, another 450 acres of scenic Ebey's Prairie land has been permanently protected.Engle Farms, a Central Whidbey dairy business that started in 1850, was sold to the Trust for Public Lands and the National Park Service, working in conjunction with the Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve.The purchase price for all of it was $2 million. The Trust for Public Lands bought about 350 acres outright, while the Park Service bought development rights to 100 acres. The money for the deal, which lifts a bankruptcy cloud that has hung over Engle Farms for over two years, came from an appropriation by the 1998 U.S. Congress.Properties that will be protected include some of the most scenic on Whidbey Island:* The Hill Road property, which offers a view toward Port Townsend and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It's located along Engle Road on the way to the Keystone ferry.* About 115 acres of prairie land above Crockett Lake on Fort Casey Road.* Acreage on either side of Highway 20 at the north entry to Coupeville.The Engle dairy itself is also part of the deal. Ebey's Reserve manager Rob Harbour said the Trust for Public Lands will eventually sell its holdings to the Park Service. The Ebey's Landing Reserve board will then help manage the property. Harbour said some early ideas for the dairy include running a demonstration farm, or possibly leasing the land to local farmers.Our decision will come down to what's best for agriculture on Central Whidbey, he said. "

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