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Land guardian groups to merge


Greg Good, left, NOLT executive director, and Jim Aldrich, Friends of the Fields president, review merger plans. Submitted photo

North Olympic Land Trust and Friends of the Fields are in the final stages of becoming one organization working to sustain agriculture as well as other qualities of land in Clallam County.

The remaining action required for a merger is for the land trust's membership to approve

its board of directors' recommendation at NOLT's annual meeting Saturday, March 13.

Greg Good, executive director of the land trust, and Jim Aldrich, president of FOF, said the two nonprofits have worked closely for many years to protect farmland.

FOF focuses on sustainable agriculture in Clallam County, which also can help protect other qualities the land trust is committed to protecting - timberland, scenic vistas, open space, clean air, clean water and cultural heritage.

Stronger together

In a joint statement, leaders of the two organizations said:

"We anticipate a synergy from the merger that will result in a stronger, unified and more effective entity working to preserve the environment, ecology and well-being of the county's residents. Volunteers from both organizations have assisted with each other's fundraising and outreach projects for many years.

"Combining forces will enhance this interaction. We also expect the merged nonprofit to be substantially more robust than either organization has been acting alone since NOLT and FOF will be bringing together their own special areas of expertise and capabilities."

NOLT's annual meeting, from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, March 13, in the Pirate Union Building of Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, is open to the public. Participants will have an opportunity to join or renew memberships before ballots are distributed, Good said.

Featured speaker will be American Farmland Trust's Pacific Northwest States director Don Stuart. The gathering also will celebrate NOLT's 20th anniversary and its protection of more than 2,000 acres since local citizens established the organization in 1990. Presentations will include a recap of 2009 accomplishments, Good said.

New 'Fields' committee

In a letter to land trust members, the executive director said the merged organization would form a new committee called Friends of the Fields.

Good said this committee would be responsible for prioritizing acquisition of farmland and farmland development rights as well as activities or projects directly associated with sustainable agriculture in the county. He anticipates hiring a farmland conservation specialist to help facilitate the committee.

"Our organizations have long worked together on farmland conservation," the letter says, describing FOF's leadership in fundraising activities and grant preparation to protect farmland in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.

The land trust provides and upholds the legal agreements known as conservation easements that permanently preserve land for agriculture. The land trust also made contributions from its Farmland Fund to help FOF with required matching funds for the grant that purchased development rights on the 38-acre Dungeness Valley Creamery last year, Good said.

More information about the two organizations is available on their Web sites, www.nolt.org and www.friendsofthefields.org, or by calling the NOLT office, 417-1815 or FOF volunteers, 683-7750.



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