Preserve Skagit Valley as a working agricultural region and landscape by protecting farmland through acquisition of permanent property restrictions and by promoting and supporting farming as an economically viable way of life.
Ensure that Skagit farming remains a permanent part of the region's identity for the benefit of: Local farmers and residents whose livelihoods depend on the land; Puget Sound citizens and visitors who enjoy the natural beauty of a pastoral landscape; waterfowl, raptors, salmon, and other wildlife that depend on the managed farm landscape as habitat.
To assure the long-term protection of this regional asset, SPF operates as a land trust, as an advocate for farmland protection, and as an education and community-building organization.
As a Land Trust, SPF's vision is to permanently secure the critical mass of farmland in the Valley. The most cost-effective way to protect farmland is to acquire rights for development (by purchase or donation) from willing landowners before they become too expensive. These "conservation easements" restrict use of the land for farming, in perpetuity. In 1997, SPF accepted easements on several key set purchase development rights from guidelines for the county's use of funds to farmland parcels (140 acres total), helped farmland, and helped educate farmers about important estate and tax-law changes.
Today, permanent protection of farmland in the Skagit Valley can be accomplished for a few $1,000 an acre. That's land conservation at a real bargain price - and the farmer continues to take care of the land - the best farmland in the world.
As an advocate for Skagit farming, SPF recognizes that without a strong voice, Skagit farmland will be inevitably lost, acre by acre, farm by farm. SPF has become the recognized authority for protecting farmland and farming in the Skagit Valley.
SPF effectively participates in maintaining and creating policies at the local, state, and federal level that presume a future for farming; works to implement programs to protect farmland; and creates partnerships for land protection with other conservation organizations, such as Skagit Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, American Farmland Trust, and The Nature Conservancy. SPF is also a key participant in the Skagit Watershed Council.
As a community-building organization, SPF recognizes that a successful protection strategy depends upon a strong core of public opinion in favor of farmland protection. SPF has demonstrated broad and deep community support for farming.
In an Elway Research poll commissioned by SPF an the Economic Development Association of Skagit County (EDASC) in 1996, 82% of Skagit Valley residents agreed that the county should be doing more to protect farmland. 90% recognized the importance of farming for the economy, wildlife habitat, and open space. Based on the depth and breadth of this support, coupled with SPF research about such programs around the nation, County Commissioners voted, in 1996, to impose a property tax increase (Conservation Futures) to fund the purchase of development rights from willing farmers.
SPF also sponsors community education, annual cultural and recreational events ("Celebrate Skagit Harvest Dinner & Auction"), informs the public about farmland issues, and builds community support in the Valley and throughout the Puget Sound for Skagit farmland protection.