Four-generation family farm saved from development

Snohomish County and Forterra are pleased to announce the 190-acre Port Susan Farms near Stanwood is permanently conserved thanks to the purchase of a working farmland conservation easement.

In 2006, lifelong dairy farmer Jeff Ellingsen, Forterra and Snohomish County began a partnership to protect the farm in a way that would support a long-term commitment to agriculture while also recognizing its important ecological benefits to fish and wildlife. The farm sits along Port Susan Bay, a location distinctive in its role as wildlife habitat and home to many bird species, including thousands of snow geese, waterfowl, salmon and shellfish.

Ellingsen, whose family has owned and worked the farm for four generations, believes that agriculture is a critical part of Snohomish County’s landscape, economy and identity, and wanted to ensure farming would continue on this land into the future. “Conservation and farmland preservation is vital for our future. Without farmland and farmers, there is no food,” said Ellingsen.

Located near the estuary of the Stillaguamish River on Port Susan Bay, Ellingsen leases most of his farm to another family for dairy farming. Thanks to the conservation easement, the land is now permanently protected from real estate development but agricultural operations will continue under the terms of the easement. The conservation of this particular property provides even greater benefits since the 190 acres is near a large wildlife preserve.

“It’s projects like Port Susan Farms that exhibit the bold vision articulated in Forterra’s Cascade Agenda and the upcoming Next Wave process, ensuring we maintain the features, in this case prime agricultural land and open space for habitat, critical to a healthy and resilient region,” stated Gene Duvernoy, Forterra President.

“Farms and farmers have always contributed to the excellent quality of life we enjoy here in Snohomish County,” said John Lovick, Snohomish County Executive. “I’m extremely pleased that we are able to preserve such a valuable piece of agricultural land for future generations of farmers.”


About Snohomish County

Snohomish County is a strong supporter of local farmers and the preservation of agricultural land. In 2013, with input from Forterra and the backing of a wide range of stakeholder groups, the county updated its market-based transfer of development rights program, expanding opportunities for land protection and encouraging growth where it is desired. Snohomish County funded the easement purchase of Port Susan Farms through its Conservation Futures program. Learn more at

Forterra is an unconventional land trust that works across Washington’s communities and landscapes, from the ranches and shrub-steppe of the Yakima basin, to the estuaries, farms and forests of Washington’s coast, reaching more than 100 counties, cities, towns and rural communities. Working cooperatively with people and nature, Forterra drives land stewardship, management and planning; innovative programs and policies; farming and forestry approaches; community ownership opportunities; and development solutions. Visit


Snohomish County

Bronlea Mishler, Deputy Communications Director, (425) 388-3050

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