The Puyallup River flows by the Matlock Farm
Photo by Hannah Letinich

Matlock Farm part 3

Making History

In partnership with Forterra, Pierce County closed on the largest farm conservation project in Pierce County history.

Through its Conservation Futures program—a grant program that helps to establish parks, protect critical habitats and conserve working farms and forests—the county purchased a conservation easement and development rights on 116 acres of farm land. Through this transaction, Pierce County will retain an important piece of its agricultural history and character for future generations.

“The things that make Pierce County unique are the things that we want to continue to be able to see into the future and preserve for our children,” said Kimberly Freeman, Pierce County Resource Stewardship Manager.

Conserving farm land in the Puyallup River Valley is critical to the community, environment and regional economy. By protecting farms such as the Matlock Farm, the county:

  • Ensures farm land continues to be available for agricultural use, generating millions of dollars in annual economic activity in the County.
  • Prevents farm lands from being developed while protecting sensitive salmon habitat, reducing flood and lahar risk to infrastructure and protecting water from pollution coming off of roads, lawns and storm drains.
  • Secures access for the community to enjoy the open space, particularly in the Puyallup Valley, home of the widely-popular Foothills Trail.

The County also purchased 37 acres to protect and restore critical floodplain and salmon habitat. The property includes over half a mile of riverbank on the Puyallup River and over 1,300 feet on Ball Creek, a salmon-bearing tributary of the Puyallup River.

The Matlock Farm project demonstrates the abilities of Forterra and the County to balance farm land conservation and salmon habitat protection and restoration. Far too often these two environmental needs are pitted against one another. We can achieve that balance by protecting most of the property as farmland and putting some of it into permanent habitat protection. Restoration work will include removal of fish passage barriers, planting of native vegetation along the waterways, and restoring Ball Creek’s meandering channel to improve salmon habitat.

“Whether it’s protecting forestlands and cultural sites in the Carbon River Valley, shorelines along Puget Sound or parks in and around communities throughout Pierce county, the County has been an exceptional partner to Forterra, as well as a strong conservation leader in their own right,” said Jordan Rash, Forterra’s Conservation Director and lead on the Matlock Farm project.

Pierce County has been a key partner of Forterra in multiple conservations projects in the past, including Buckley Forest Preserve, Devil’s Head, Carbon River Valley Park and the Foothills Trail. Learn more about the Matlock Farm conservation project in the below video by Pierce County.

Read more in the Matlock Farm Series:

Part 1: A Tale of Two Brothers
Part 2: From Punjab to Puyallup