Your Input as well as Your Support Sought for the Draft Sustainability Action Plan for Spokane
Local Food and Farming are Emphasized
Big News from the Spokane County Treasurer's Office!
Your expressions of support are beginning to pay off. Thank You!
For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2021
Treasurer proposes local public financing option for Latah Valley land conservation
Spokane County, WA – Treasurer of Spokane County Michael Baumgartner proposed today a local public financing option to support the purchase of Latah Valley land currently being considered for development or conservation.
Conservation Futures, the City of Spokane, and other stakeholders have been considering options to conserve approximately forty-eight acres located along U.S. 195 near High Drive Bluff Park and Latah Creek. Acquisition of the land for conservation has previously been identified as a priority by Conservation Futures.
The Treasurer of Spokane County through the $1.3 billion Spokane Public Investment Fund offers local direct investments to the government entities it banks and invests for. Up to ten percent of the investment fund may be held in local direct investments. Terms are typically favorable compared to rates available in the open market and are re-payable over a maximum of five years.
“Supporting conservation and smart development to the area along U.S. 195 has long been a priority of mine” said Michael Baumgartner the Treasurer of Spokane County who previously helped secure state funding for new passing lanes on U.S. 195 while in the state senate.
“The High Drive Bluff natural area is a treasure for our community and something that we should protect,” added Baumgartner. “We currently have about $100 million in capacity for local lending for good public projects. Helping finance the purchase of this area would be a tiny portion of our fund and something I would be very interested in considering.”
Local direct investments have supported a number of past Spokane County conservation and infrastructure projects. Conservation Futures previously financed the Etter Ranch land acquisition through a local direct investment. In 2019, the Treasurer’s Office issued public financing to Spokane County Public Works to speed up construction schedules at Bigelow Gulch by six months.
“Our Local Direct Investment program is a win-win for the public. This program delivers public projects of local interest and at a lower cost through our affordable financing terms. The Treasurer’s Office is ready to be a partner to support our community and public partners, especially on projects like these.” Added Baumgartner.
Add your name to our letter to Spokane decision-makers
This wonderful video was produced by Friends of the Bluff, a community group of volunteers formed in 2010 to be stewards of the High Drive Bluff Park in Spokane, WA.
Preserve the Historic Kampa Farm in Vinegar Flats/Latah Valley
Ever since October when representatives from several conservation organizations, the landowners, City of Spokane officials and a Spokane County Commissioner gathered at the Vinegar Flats farm to discuss its future, a committee has been meeting to assist the City in developing a plan for the City to purchase the land, thus preventing its sale to a developer and preserving it for conservation and agriculture. This committee is called the Latah Environmental, Agricultural and Fisheries Heritage Project (LEAF). On December 3rd, the Spokane City Council voted to include the LEAF Heritage Project in its Tier 1 Legislative Priorities for 2021, demonstrating the City's commitment to the vision of expanding the public trails in the area, restoring the banks of Hangman Creek to better support returning fish populations and putting the farmland back to work growing organic fruits and vegetables for Spokane residents of all income levels.
Spokane area decision makers need to hear from you. They need to hear that you support this precedent-setting initiative. Please sign your name to the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group letter!
Save the Kampa Farm from Development.
This is our last chance!
Spokane County is Acting Improperly Regarding the Proposed Sundance Meadows Development in the Seven Mile Urban Growth Area.
Processing of development applications should cease until the issue of the property being designated as "Open Space" in the City's Comprehensive Plan is Resolved.
Then please take action!
Regular Meetings - First Thursday of each month from 3pm to 5pm. More info...
New: Report from American Farmland Trust:
Farms Under Threat: The State of the States
A brand new comprehensive assessment of U.S. farmland loss by the American Farmland Trust and a Call to Action.
There are many reasons we should
preserve farmland in our community.
Click/Tap to read more under each heading >>
Local food is a valuable natural resource.
Isn't it a miracle how dollars can grow out of the ground in the form of food the same way that dollars are pumped out of the ground in the petroleum industry. The added benefit of local food is that it can mitigate climate change instead of exacerbating it.
Farming and value-added processing provide local jobs.
When a dollar is spent on locally grown food, it tends to change hands with other local businesses which significantly multiplies its value to the local economy. A vibrant local food system contributes to regional economic gain, increased food security and stronger community resilience.
Local food production improves food security.
The availability of local food improves the health and wellness of a community. When a community develops its own food resources instead of depending on imported food or the industrial food sector, it is not as vulnerable to the effects of drought, transportation failures, natural disasters, or other misfortunes. Robust local food production can also make sure people of all incomes have access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other locally produced foods.
Arable lands in production, managed responsibly, provide open space and perform important ecosystem services...
...like wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. Farms in a community improve quality of life, provide educational opportunities and keep people connected to their food supply and the people who grow it. A vibrant local food system is dependent on the preservation of arable working farmland and maintaining access to that farmland by those who want to farm it.
Local policy is failing to preserve farms and farmland.
Recent examples involve proposals to develop housing units on land within the City of Spokane that is zoned ‘Residential Agricultural’ (RA*) Almost all of the agricultural land in active production in 2019 (about 55 acres) could be covered by these houses and lost to farming forever. One proposal called "Deep Pine Overlook" seeks to build 94 homes on 48 acres of USDA "Prime" farmland in a flood zone adjacent to the already-polluted Hangman Creek. These houses would add a surge of new traffic to a notoriously treacherous patch of State Route 195. Opposition from citizens concerned about the loss of these agricultural resources was voiced at hearings, but developers’ interests are prevailing and construction permits are being approved for these parcels regardless of neighborhood and ecological concerns. Read more about our efforts to find an alternative to the Deep Pine Overlook development.
*"The RA zone is a low-density single-family residential zone that is applied to areas that are designated agriculture on the land use plan map of the comprehensive plan. Uses allowed in this zone include farming, green house farming, single-family residences and minor structures used for sales of agricultural products produced on the premises." –From the Spokane Municipal Code, Section 17C.110.030
We won't preserve farmland until we get serious about it.
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group advocates in favor of the community's desire to protect farmland from development, as reflected in language agreed to in the Comprehensive Plans. The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group is developing proposals to achieve more farmland preservation and strengthen the preservation policies governing our region that are currently failing to preserve farmland.