Couple's common-sense conservation work lauded
April and Mike LaLande of North Bend are considered model conservation landowners by the King Conservation District (KCD). Their land is highlighted...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Resources for farmland ownersThe following Web sites provide information about King County programs that were helpful to the LaLandes in their efforts to promote conservation while keeping livestock.
Upcoming farm tours of conservation properties in King CountyTwo Fall City tours are planned in the coming months:
• 10 a.m. to noon Sept. 22, focusing on living without horse pasture
• 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 10, focusing on planning your horse farm for winter
Interested landowners may call the King Conservation District at (425) 277-5881, ext. 125 or e-mail email@example.com to register.
April and Mike LaLande of North Bend are considered model conservation landowners by the King Conservation District (KCD).
Their land is highlighted on tours and used to teach others good land-management techniques. To get to this point was a long process that required reversing damage done by previous owners who used pesticides and making their own improvements.
But the couple say it wasn't difficult to turn their property into 15 eco-friendly acres and that others can do the same.
How did they do it?
"Let nature take care of itself," April LaLande said.
From letting the swallows take care of pests instead of using pesticides to replacing non-native trees with native plant species, they are doing just that.
For their efforts, the LaLandes received the KCD Conservation Landowner award this week. KCD is a locally funded group that provides free conservation services to promote sustainable uses of natural resources.
With the help of KCD and other resources, the couple have created an ecosystem on their land that meets their needs as horse owners and keeps the land environmentally sound, LaLande said. They also allow environmental-education groups such as KCD to conduct tours of their property.
"The goal is entirely educational, to show that there's things [others] can do on their property, too," said KCD farm planner Matt Dunnahoe.
It has been seven years since the first tours came through, with more than 300 visitors since, LaLande said.
Tourgoers learn how to compost livestock manure in bins to prevent runoff that could contaminate ground water. They see how alternative techniques, such as using vinegar instead of pesticides, can keep land free of weeds and insects.
The LaLandes bought the land nine years ago, looking for space to keep and ride their two horses. Horses for Clean Water, a local group run for and by horse owners, advised them on keeping their property environmentally friendly, LaLande said. The couple contacted KCD and worked with Dunnahoe to keep conservation at the forefront of their improvements. Following those agencies' advice, they decided to keep about half of their area wooded and keep the house, stable and grazing area on the other half. They avoided continuous fencing around their property that could trap wildlife, such as the dozens of elk that graze for weeks at a stretch. They looked for ways to foster wildlife habitat, including strategies as simple as keeping piles of brush undisturbed. They also chose trail-building materials that are environmentally safe and protect the horse and ground water.
"We wanted to do everything common sense," she said.
Not developing half of their land entitled them to a tax benefit, LaLande said. That kind of information is important to landowners as they explore their land-use options, she said.
"There are good resources out there that are available free of charge," she said.
And those resources are important to owners who want to keep their property undeveloped, LaLande said.
"We're becoming fewer in number as everything gets paved over," she said.
Other recipients of this year's KCD awards are Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin for service on watershed forums; Kirkland Deputy Mayor Joan McBride for her work to foster cooperation between suburban cities and the conservation district; David Irons for service as an associate board member for KCD; the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum for its consortium of cities, specifically relating to the salmon recovery project; the Friends of Portage Bay Reclamation, which worked to restore a littered Shoreline park; the city of Clyde Hill for its "high-quality" Arbor Day event; and the city of Auburn for its new environmental park.
Nancy Kelsey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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