Letters to the Editor

The future of agriculture in Thurston County

I’m surprised to see little coverage of the updates to Thurston County’s Comprehensive Plan, as required by the Washington GMA. The Planning Commission is currently updating zoning and development regulations based off of an expected population increase projected till 2040. This update obviously greatly affects Thurston County’s future landscape, especially when it comes to how much of our land’s in agricultural use.

Thurston county residents know the importance of strong local food systems and this is echoed in our current Comp Plan, which states, “The community as a whole takes responsibility for conserving prime farmlands, promoting local markets, minimizing incompatible land uses, and providing other community support.”

Yet, the option is on the table to ultimately ignore these guiding words. Planning Commission members have signaled interest in approving the option of co-designating mineral lands and long-term ag lands, fundamentally jeopardizing what little LTA we have in Thurston County (15,878 acres). Agriculture is a sustainable service, whereas mining is an industry relying on nonrenewable resources. Which would Thurston County residents rather preserve for future generations?

It is not too late for Thurston County to achieve its stated goal of “no net loss of farmland.” We must minimize risk of de-designation of LTA in Thurston County, expand the acreage we already have, and permit mining on non-LTA ag land only when those soils can be restored to original productive capabilities. I encourage folks to comment on this by emailing comp-plan@co.thurston.wa.us.

Above all, we must protect our agricultural lands for future Thurston County.