Current Issues

WWAA services support local and statewide agricultural viability, through both direct leadership and indirect participation. Natural resources conservation and recovery initiatives, agricultural research and extension programs, and agricultural preservation actions dominate our work on a daily and annual basis. Our organization’s diverse membership, coupled with this region’s complexity, create for an immense and ongoing list of commitments and services/activities.

 

Much of WWAA’s support for this community is hidden in the background of dike, drainage, and irrigation infrastructure and natural resource projects/stewardship seen throughout the Skagit Valley and Delta. Other than by those directly involved, WWAA investment to advance each goes unrecognized, which is a testament to the benefit and effectiveness each program provides.

Big Bad Buffer Bills (HB 1838 & SB 5665)

Original SB 5665 as written (co-sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett, 40th District)

Original HB 1838 as written (sponsored by Rep. Debra Lekanoff, 40th District)

WWAA strongly opposes these dangerous bills that would ultimately lead to the removal of local food production in Western Washington. Each bill:

  • Mandates large NO TOUCH buffers on private lands with very few exceptions, but exempts tribal lands.

  • Creates huge buffers as large as 235 feet on each side of a stream or river or all around a pond, lake or wetland taking thousands of acres of farmland, an estimated 20% of Western Washington agricultural lands.

  • The governor's office of Indian affairs shall convene a state/tribal riparian management oversight committee that will review and support implementation of this act.

  • Creates new fines up to $10,000 per day per violation (issued by Ecology).

  • Will replace the Voluntary Stewardship Program with a hostile regulatory standoff.

  • Exemptions omit major policy considerations such as federal and state flood damage reduction  measures for the protection of life and property, the constitutional rights of landowners, the financial burden of controlling invasive and noxious weeds and other economic losses due to changing use of natural resource land.

To print and use our one page (front and back) backgrounder and talking points, click here.

Western Washington agriculture is at the center of one of the worst bills attacking a farmer’s right to use their own land. 

Please consider joining other statewide farmers and ranchers to oppose this dangerous bill. We are asking you to communicate with committee members using email. We suggest reading the content of the bills before writing your testimony.

skagit waterways.jpeg

This a map the Washington Farm Bureau obtained this week through a public disclosure request from the WA State Department of Agriculture that displays how a 200-foot buffer would impact prime farm land in Skagit County.

Schuh farm 215ft.jpg

We looked up the Schuh Farm address to see what length of buffer they would be under if the waterway nearby was classified as "salmon bearing". The Douglas Fir 200 year tree height WDFW uses is 215 ft in this location. Here's what a 215 buffer would roughly look like according to their ruler tool.

The impacts of this bill can be boiled down to this: a mile-long 200-foot buffer devours 24 acres of land.

How would the loss of 24 acres of your farm ground per mile (along every stream, river, pond, lake, or wetlands on your farm) affect your bottom line?That’s what legislators need to hear.

 

Regarding testimony – we are partnering with the Washington Farm Bureau and other farm groups to organize testimony. We are looking for people in Western Washington who have streams, rivers or lakes on or adjoining their land who will be directly impacted. If you would like to testify, please email Tom Davis at tdavis@wsfb.com. WFB can provide you with the specific buffer requirements that would be mandated on your farm.

If you are interested in emailing your local legislator on the House Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, visit their contact form:

Rep. Debra Lekanoff (Dist. 40)
Rep. Sharon Shewmake (Dist. 42)

 

Our local Senator Liz Lovelett (Dist. 40) has also co-signed the companion bill in the Senate (SB 5665). If you would like to email Sen. Lovelett, please visit her contact form here.

You can also explore the map created by WDFW that shows you how your land would be impacted by this bill by clicking here.  Type your address in the search box in the top center of the screen and then click on the screen and the buffer size information will appear.

Stay tuned for further updates on these bills.

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Special Purpose District Commitments

 

These Class 1 soils of the Skagit, with high concentrations of clays and sands, can only remain fertile for the many different crops locally grown if they are:

  • protected by many miles of dikes from the tidal salt water of Skagit, Padilla, and Samish Bays,

  • adequately drained by many miles of constructed ditches and modified sloughs during periods of high rainfall, and

  • seasonally irrigated utilizing water captured in that same network of watercourses.

 

We work with the local irrigation districts to ensure that water supply and drainage is maintained for agricultural purposes. READ MORE
 

Farm, Fish, Flood Initiative (3FI)

 

In 2011, Western Washington Agricultural Association with a broad group of governmental and private organizations met and initiated the Farm, Fish, and Flood Initiative (3FI). This collaborative body of natural resource managers met and continue to meet to create, develop, and implement land management goals and opportunities that benefit agricultural viability, salmon population recovery, and catastrophic flood protection across our local landscape. ​READ MORE

Skagit Tidegate and Fish Initiative (TFI)

 

In 2006, it was clear that tidegate repair and replacement, those activities necessary and imperative for drainage and irrigation districts, would require lengthy permitting and variable mitigation, if permitted on a case-by-case basis, and would likely create multiple obstacles for district commissioners. ​READ MORE

Skagit Drainage and Fish Initiative (DFI)

 

The Skagit Drainage and Fish Initiative (DFI) brought together the agricultural community with state and tribal entities in 2006 in a collaborative process to design and implement necessary planning, environmental documentation and permitting for the drainage districts’ maintenance activities. ​READ MORE

Other topics we follow:

 

SKAGIT CHINOOK RECOVERY PLAN

HB 1418