Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Don’t make us terminate farming

Most of Western Washington is wet a good portion of the year. This is why we call ourselves the “Evergreen State.” We, as rural property owners, take pride in our rural environment and character. We use NRCS-BMP’s (Best Management Practices) and have invested a lot of time and money in order to implement these practices. These practices include the use of sacrifice areas to keep livestock off seasonally wet pastures, nutrient (manure) management plans, roof and impervious surface water diversions, noxious and non-native species weed control and good animal husbandry practices.

Why was rural agriculture the only activity not grandfathered into the recent amendment of 17.02 ND 17.03? All other existing and ongoing activities are permitted. According to the current ordinance, exhibit A-PLG-007.05, all existing and ongoing agricultural uses as defined in Chapter 17.02 ICC that occur on wetlands and streams or wetlands and stream buffers must be modified as follows: farms in R and RR Zones must terminate farming practices on or before Jan. 1, 2006.

What does this mean? Any seasonally wet pastures (most of our county) will not be able to be used. Type 5 streams or ditches (defined as 2 feet or less in width and carry water for two weeks out of the year) will have a 50 foot buffer on each side ... not to be mowed or grazed seasonally. R and RR land owners will not be allowed to utilize their land for the kids’ horse, raise a couple of steers, mow their five acres or control the noxious, non-native weeds. If you have any land left that is not wet ... think about moving your fences 50 feet back from the county ditches because they are now classified as a Type 5 stream.

This has already gone through the court system. Rezoning your property to the Rural Agricultural definition will not be feasible for most folks, as you have to prove that you are making a profit from your land and have to own 10 acres or more. How many 4-H projects generate a profit? The value of giving kids a productive and positive project does not count. The quality of your rural life has no monetary value.

We, as rural land owners in Island County, must be allowed to utilize the recommended NRCS-BMPs offered to commercial and rural agricultural zoned properties. We are serious producers although it is on a small scale. If we are not allowed to do this and implement BMPs, you may have to “terminate farming practices on or before Jan. 1, 2006! This means sell the horse and 4-H projects!

Deb (Sande) Eidsness

Camano Island

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