Conservation Land Bank seeks public input on Coffelt Farm study and proposed agricultural policy

Submitted by San Juan County Conservation Land Bank.

After more than two years of research and community outreach, the San Juan County Conservation Land Bank has entered the final phase in planning future agricultural operations at Coffelt Farm Preserve. The Land Bank invites the public to submit written comments on a new Coffelt Farm study and to attend a Zoom meeting on December 17, 2021.

The enormous task before the Land Bank Commissioners is how best to not only keep the 185-acre Orcas Island property in active agriculture, but to also provide educational opportunities for farmers and other community members, and to devise a management model that’s sustainable, equitable and fiscally responsible. In addition, they must heed the constraints of the San Juan Preservation Trust’s Conservation Easement as well as protect the ecological values outlined in the Land Bank’s Coffelt Farm Preserve Stewardship and Management Plan.

Key to the December discussion will be the new Coffelt Farm Lease Rate and Reserve Study. Recommended by the Land Bank’s Conservation Agricultural Resource Team (CART), the study was prepared by a consultant with decades of experience in the field. It draws on extensive research, interviews with local farm owners and lessees, and careful evaluation of the property and its infrastructure. In addition to providing guidance for a lease rate informed by comparable local and regional rates, the study includes a proposed 10-year maintenance schedule and associated costs. This information will be crucial in developing a long-term sound financial plan for the Preserve.

To help ensure greater consistency in planning and management of farming activities across all Land Bank agricultural preserves, the Land Bank has also recently completed a Draft Agricultural Program Objectives & Policy. This policy document is currently receiving input from the SJC Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC), and the Land Bank invites the public to submit comments. The Agricultural Program policy will also be discussed and considered for adoption at the December 17 meeting.

Deadline for public comments on the Coffelt Farm Lease Rate and Reserve Study and the Draft Agricultural Policy is December 13. CLICK HERE for links to the Reserve Study and Draft Agricultural Program Policy, as well as to other background documents the commission is reviewing to prepare for the December 17 meeting.

Comments can be emailed to or mailed to the office: SJCLB, 350 Court Street No. 6, Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

Land Bank staff and commissioners are grateful to our agency partners and to the San Juan County community for the thoughtful input we’ve already received on the future of Coffelt Farm Preserve.