May 24 deadline could
be extended until November
Skagit Valley Herald
The deadline for Skagit County farmers to select a buffer plan
likely will be pushed back again.
The deadline, currently May 24, will be extended to late
November if the county commissioners sign an ordinance expected to
be presented to them on May 20 or 21, according to Ric Boge, the
county’s natural resources program manager.
Farmers who want to receive the signing bonus offered by the
county have to sign up for the federal Conservation Reserve
Enhancement Program by May 24, though.
County officials have been encouraging farmers to sign up for
the federal program, which offers twice the payments as the
county’s old program — which is no longer being offered anyway
because a state judge threw it out last year.
The federal program currently requires buffers about 150 feet
wide. State officials say buffers as narrow as 75 feet might be
allowed by August, although they would pay less on a per-acre
Farmers who install buffers will be reimbursed for the
installation costs, then paid an annual rental fee that depends on
the soil type. Anyone who signs up for the federal plan by May 24
will also get a signing bonus from the county worth $40 per acre
per year for up to 15 years.
Farmers who sign up for the program will have about six months
to declare how wide they will make their buffers, so they can sign
the “intent to enroll” form now and still install narrow
buffers if those are approved later.
The original deadline for farmers to declare a buffer option
was Nov. 27, 2001. That was pushed back just days before the
deadline after the county’s primary plan was thrown out in the
Buffers are strips of land along salmon-bearing streams planted
in trees and grasses that are intended to protect habitat for the