Project would protect Lone Lake farmland

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust applied for $790,000 from a program to protect 37 acres.

Funds from an Island County land-preservation program may be used to protect 37 acres of farmland along the south shoreline of Lone Lake on South Whidbey from development in perpetuity.

The Whidbey Camano Land Trust applied for $790,000 from the Conservation Futures Program to buy an easement on the farmland from the trustees of the Gabelein Family Trust.

Funds from the Conservation Futures Program come from a small property tax. The program protects and preserves environmentally threatened areas, culturally significant sites and farmland. The fund can also be used for maintenance of property.

The Land Trust proposes to buy the development rights to farmland that’s been farmed since 1887 and is owned by third-generation farmers. The property has most recently been used to grow high-quality hay.

While the owners plan to keep the property in agricultural use, development may be highly likely in the future, according to the Land Trust.

The application by the Last Trust states that the most obvious benefit of the proposal is to protect scenic views for the public.

“The property’s rolling topography and pastoral landscape are part of the iconic backdrop along Bayview Road, one of the main roads leading to the City of Langley,” the application states.

In addition, the application states that the area provides valuable habitat for an array of wildlife, including pileated woodpeckers, western painted turtles, various raptors, beaver, otters and coyotes.

The application explains that the project is the first phase “in a larger effort to permanently protect additional historic working lands that include prime farmland soils, forest, wildlife habitat and a scenic landscape in public view.”

In addition to the Lone Lake proposal, the county departments requested conservation funds from the program.

The Island County Parks Department is asking for $23,000 to renovate a farm outbuilding into a picnic shelter at Saratoga Woods; $12,500 to rebuild a beach access stairway at Barnum Point on Camano Island; and $100,000 for maintenance of county parks previously purchased through the Conservations Futures Program funds.

In addition, the county Noxious Weed Control Board requested $23,000 to remove 900 mature English holly trees at Barnum Point on Camano Island.

The commissioners are scheduled to discuss the proposals during a work session Wednesday and hold a public meeting May 18.