CHIMACUM — The Jefferson Land Trust is now the sole holder of a conservation easement in Chimacum after the county stepped down as a co-holder Monday.
The easement was put into place in 2009 to protect 50 acres of land which is home to the Chimacum Dairy, also known as Brown Dairy, and the Finnriver Farm orchard and cidery.
The county was brought in by the Jefferson Land Trust as a co-holder in order to acquire a state grant to permanently protect the property from development, according to Sarah Spaeth, the trust’s director of conservation and strategic partnerships.
Because the state no longer requires public entities such as the county government to be sponsors of land conservation easements, the Jefferson County commissioners approved handing the easement over to the Jefferson Land Trust, which handles all the other agricultural land conservation easements in Jefferson County.
The $95,047 grant awarded in 2009 covered half the cost of the property. The county as the sponsor covered the other half but was reimbursed for the cost by the Jefferson Land Trust.
The land trust purchased the property, but due to the state requirements, needed the county as a sponsor in order to get the grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office.
The conservation easement keeps the 50-acre property under single ownership and set aside for agriculture use only.
Portions of the property along Chimacum Creek also are protected as habitat for chum, pink and coho salmon, as well as cutthroat trout and steelhead.
According to Spaeth, Finnriver currently leases the property but is working toward purchasing all 50 acres as part of a long-term lease agreement.
Finnriver hosts a cidery, which includes a tasting room and outdoor space, along with an orchard with apple and pear trees and test plots that have been rented by the Organic Seed Alliance, Washington State University Jefferson County Extension and the North Olympic Salmon Coalition. There also are office spaces as part of the Finnriver CoLab.
The land was sold to the land trust by Gloria Brown, who was unable to take care of the farm herself after her husband, B.G. Brown, died. The couple had owned the farm since 1956 when B.G. Brown retired as a marine and came to Chimacum to run his family farm.
Before that, the farm was one of the first settled in Western Washington and was a family dairy since at least the 1850s. At one point it was owned by William Bishop Jr., the first Native American elected as a Washington state senator, according to the Jefferson Land Trust.