Farmland Preservation Program
The Farmland Preservation Program (FPP) began in 1979 when the voters of King County approved an initiative authorizing the County to preserve rapidly diminishing farmland by purchasing the right to develop it. During the 1980's, King County acquired the development rights on 12,600 acres of high quality farmland within its boundaries. The County is continuing to purchase development rights on select properties and there are now approximately 15,500 acres permanently protected.
FPP properties include dairies, beef, horse and other animal operations as well as nurseries, turf farms, and farms raising hay, silage, berries, row crops, flowers and Christmas trees. These protected farmlands are located primarily in the Green, Sammamish, and Snoqualmie River Valleys, and on the Enumclaw Plateau and Vashon Island (see map of protected farmlands in King County).
The FPP is a voluntary program. In selling the development rights to their property, owners allow restrictive covenants to be placed on it which limit the property's use and development. The covenants:
- restrict the property to agriculture or open space uses,
- limit the number of residences permitted,
- require that 95% of the property be kept open and available for cultivation,
- require a minimum lot size if the property is subdivided, and
- restrict activities that would impair the agricultural capability of the property.
The restrictive covenants are contained in a conveyance instrument called the Deed Of and Agreement Relating to Development Rights. In 2009, King County Council authorized the use of a new replacement document, the King County Agricultural Conservation Easement: Deed and Agreement Relating to Development Rights.
For more information about the King County Farmland Preservation Program, please contact Ted Sullivan, Farmland Preservation Program Manager.