PERRYSBURG - Two Seneca County farms have joined a growing list of properties protected from development through Ohio's Agricultural Easement Purchase Program through Black Swamp Conservancy.
Agreements have been approved for 146 acres owned by John and Sue Burks and 126 acres owned by Carrigan Farms. Both farms are north of Tiffin near a cluster of farmland protected during the past few years by the farmland preservation program funded by Clean Ohio through the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
"The Agricultural Easement Purchase Program is intended to create clusters of preserved farmland," said Kevin Joyce, executive director of Black Swamp Conservancy, a Perrysburg-based land trust that handles paperwork and holds easements.
"Farm ground located near other preserved farmland scores higher under the AEPP criteria," Joyce said. "So farmers with land near the cluster north of Tiffin that's been developed over the years by Black Swamp Conservancy are more likely to be offered the opportunity to enter into a permanent farmland preservation agreement."
The two farms bring the total for Seneca County to 16 and more than 2,200 acres.
In addition, Joyce said an agreement for a third farm in Seneca County from the 2009 funding round has not been completed, and five Seneca County farms from the 2010 funding round are being processed.
Two farms in Fulton County totaling 179 acres also were added during the 2009 funding round.
"Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in northwest Ohio," Joyce said. "In these tough times, it's important to recognize that farm families' commitment to keeping their land as farmland is essential to our community's future economic prosperity."
Black Swamp Conservancy preserves land mainly through perpetual land conservation agreements known as conservation or agricultural easements. Through such an agreement, the landowner gives up the right to develop the property such as constructing buildings, putting in roads or driveways or subdividing the land in order to protect its conservation value as prime farmland or as habitat for native plants and animals.
Since its founding in 1993, the conservancy has permanently protected 89 properties and nearly 9,800 acres of family farms and natural areas such as wetlands, meadows and woods in 12 counties of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.