East Side farms seek conservation easements to protect them from development | ParkRecord.com

East Side farms seek conservation easements to protect them from development

Sarah MoffittThe Park Record

As family-run farms become less profitable and harder to maintain, some East Side residents are turning to the Summit Land Conservancy to help protect the agricultural legacy of the area.

The Judd family has been farming and ranching on a 35-acre parcel along the Weber River in Hoytsville since the 1930s. Louise Judd said she and her husband, Donald, use the land to raise sheep and graze baby cattle in the spring. Judd added that while they have grown old and now have their son-in-law do the ranching, they want to protect the land forever.

The Judd family partnered with the Summit Land Conservancy and a conservation easement was officially placed on the parcel last week. The Judd’s agreed to reduce the price for the land by 40 percent and Summit Land raised over $372,000 to place a conservation easement on the property.

"We didn’t want to ever have homes on the ground that we love," Judd said. "It is only a little piece of land but it means so much to us and the community."

The parcel contains sensitive wildlife habitat and wetlands along the Weber River, which made it even more important to protect, according to Executive Director of Summit Land Conservancy Cheryl Fox.

In a press release, Fox said multiple agencies came together to protect the land, including the Eastern Summit County Agricultural Preservation Committee and the Federal Government’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.

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"Protecting the Weber River, a primary watershed for areas in the north Wasatch Front, is vital," said Fox.

Judd said the conservation easement will also ensure that anglers will be able to access the river through their property for years to come without homes ruining the riverbank.

"In the future, I want it to look just like it does now, with agriculture on it and people going through it to fish," she added.

Fox said Summit Land Conservancy has more East Side residents wanting to protect their land than expected and the Conservancy does not have the funding or resources to help them all.

"So many family-run farms want to protect their land from development," Fox said. "It is almost impossible for small farms and ranches to make a profit these days and the families want to protect their heritage and legacy. It is such an honor to help families like the Judds and they gave a tremendous gift to the area at a large cost to themselves."

The Summit Land Conservancy currently has three other conservation easements in the works for parcels in the East Side. An easement was expected to be placed on a 260-acre parcel near Chalk Creek but Fox said their funding source for the project "dried up."