Farmland Preservation Grants
The farmland preservation grant program provides funding to cities, counties, and others to buy development rights on farmlands to ensure the lands remain available for farming in the future.
The program is part of the larger Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which was created in 1990 to buy land for outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation. In 2005, the state Legislature expanded the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program to include preservation of significant farmland.
Through the farmland preservation program, grant recipients also can help restore ecological functions that will enhance the viability of the preserved farmland.
- Buying a conservation easement on farmland threatened with development
Funding SourceSale of state general obligation bonds.
Who can apply?
- Nonprofits - nature conservancy corporations or associations
- State Conservation Commission
Match requirementsA 50 percent match is required, except for the state Conservation Commission. Match may include, but is not limited to:
- Appropriations or cash
- Donations of cash, land, labor, equipment, and materials
- Federal, state, local, and private grants
- Applicant’s labor, equipment, and materials
Grant CapsNo grant limits, except:
- Enhancement and restoration elements cannot exceed more than half of the total acquisition costs, including match toward acquisition.
- Farm stewardship plans cannot exceed $10,000.
Funding Anticipated (Average)$6 million biennially
View a chart comparing the amount of funding to each category based on different legislative funding levels.
- Land acquisition through easements and leases (required for all projects). Public access is not required.
- Enhancement or restoration. These activities must further the ecological functions of the farmland.
- Installing fences to keep livestock out of riparian areas
- Replanting native vegetation on erosion-prone land or along streams
- Restoring historic water runoff patterns
- Improving irrigation efficiency
- Installing solar well pumps
- Combination of land acquisition and restoration or enhancement
- Farm stewardship plans
- Of rights for a term of less than 25 years
- Of land already owned by a government agency
- Of properties acquired via a condemnation action of any kind
- Transfer of development rights
- “Consumable” supplies such as fuel, fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, except as a one-time application if a necessary part of an otherwise eligible restoration activity
- Elements that cannot be defined as fixtures or capital items
- Environmental cleanup of illegal activities (i.e. meth labs)
- Indoor facilities
- Organizational operating expenses or overhead
- Purchase of maintenance equipment, tools, or supplies
- Restoration work done before a grant agreement is signed
Grant Application ScheduleGenerally grant applications are accepted in even years. See this year’s schedule.
Grant Evaluation Process (1 year)
- Applicants submit an online application and make an in-person presentation:
- Applications and presentations are reviewed and scored by staff and a panel of experts.
- The ranked list is presented to the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board for consideration.
- The board approves a ranked list of projects and sends it to the Governor’s Office for including in the capital budget request to the state Legislature.
- The Governor’s Office prepares a list of projects as part of its capital budget request to the Legislature.
- The Legislature approves a budget and a list of projects.
- The Recreation and Conservation Funding Board meets to make final funding awards for projects approved by the legislature.
The right to develop the land is purcahsed though an agricultural conservation easement so the land cannot be developed through the duration of the easement. Development rights also may not be transferred.