By Michael Howell
The County’s Open Lands Board has forwarded a recommendation of approval of the use of Open Lands Bond Program funds to help establish two more conservation easements in the Corvallis area. The easements, which would be placed on the Bailey and Gingerich farms, are situated within a few miles of over a half dozen other conservation easements in the area, including easements on the Bitterroot River Ranch, Schwab Ranch, Teller Wildlife Refuge, and Bitterroot Turf Farm as well as those established with Open Lands Bond Program funds including Wood Family, Popham, and Holloron ranches.
The Bailey farm is comprised of about 210 acres and 209 acres of hay, grain and pasture land will be included in the conservation easement. The property’s primary values proposed for conservation are working agricultural lands, proximity to other working agricultural lands and preserved lands, open space, and historic value. The property has been in the Bailey name for a century, and the family has maintained the land’s agricultural viability ever since.
The appraised value of the easement was $418,000 with a total budget including costs of $458,985. The landowners are contributing $49,085 in donated easement value, and a $209,900 contribution is anticipated from the NRCS Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. The remaining $200,000 would come from Ravalli County’s Open Lands Bond Program if approved by the County Commissioners.
The 74-acre Gingerich farm is located along the Eastside Highway about two miles north of Corvallis. Grain and alfalfa are the primary crops grown on the property. Although no structures currently exist on the property, the conservation easement would allow for one new residence, in roughly the north central portion.
The property’s primary values proposed for conservation are working agricultural lands, proximity to other working agricultural lands and preserved lands, and open space. The property has been in the Gingerich family for 37 years, and the family has maintained the land’s agricultural viability ever since.
The preliminary appraised value of the conservation easement is $240,000 with a total budget including costs of $268,985. The landowners are contributing $150,985 in donated easement value, and $118,000 is being requested from the Open Lands Bond Program.
The Open Lands Board Conservation Subcommittee reports on both proposals found the landowner-donated value on both the easements to be “somewhat low for the projects” and the staff report states that the OLB should be careful not to set a precedent for projects with low contributions.
The County Commissioners may be making a decision on the funding requests on September 3.