A school, a farm and the environment all benefit

Published on Thu, Apr 25, 2002 by Jack Kintner

Read More News

A school, a farm and the environment all benefit

By Jack Kintner

Don Hrutfiord planted 200 trees along a small un-named creek on his Blaine Road cattle farm last Saturday with the help of 25 or 30 friends, and plans to add another 220 later. Intended to enhance water quality, the project also improved his farm’s environmental status, helping him successfully compete with other farms in six northwest Washington counties for federal funds awarded under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) in cooperation with the Whatcom Conservation District.

“The over-all objective is to improve water quality, on the farm and in Drayton Harbor, where this creek drains,” said technician Chuck Timblin of the conservation district. “Don’s farm plan, which these funds will support, has accomplished several things over the last few years, including fencing off certain wetland areas from his cattle, managing the roof drainage from his barn, constructing a dry stack (concrete pad) for manure storage and making roadways for cattle and vehicle access with culverts for drainways.”
Hrutfiord, 73, grew up on the farm with his younger brother, retired University of Washington chemistry professor Bjorn. “It was one of the larger poultry operations in the area,” he said, “as at one time we had 10,000 laying hens here.” He now has 30 head of cattle, and has been looking for ways to protect his water quality while continuing to raise beef.
Hrutfiord said it was the concept of high intensity “New Zealand pasturing” that first got him interested in the EQIP program. “I went to the conservation district and they began coming out on a regular basis. Once I found out there was federal money available to subsidize my plan, as there is with farm forestry projects, we began to think up projects.”

“The competition for funding can be fierce,” Timblin said, “because Don went up against commercial farms much bigger than his. It all comes down to a formula where the cost of your farm plan is divided by the farm’s environmental rating, and then the product is again divided by the square root of the farm’s acreage. The 420 trees he’ll end up plant-ing raised his environmental score and helped him get the grant to do the work.”

The planting, done along a 600-foot drainway that varies from 10 to 60 feet in width, was accomplished by a group of volunteers, including representatives of the Drayton Harbor Oyster Project and a number of students from George Kaas’ horticulture class at Blaine high school.
Hrutfiord said that the small creek in the drainway stopped flowing year-round when the freeway and later the Loomis Trail Golf Course altered it farther upstream. “The spring it comes from is now under the north-bound lanes of I-5,” he said.

Just over an acre of riparian forest buffer will be planted with a 50-50 mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees when the project is finished. The seedlings came from the state-owned Lynn Brown Plant Materials Center in Bow.

For more information on the EQIP program, contact Chuck Timblin or Beth Chisholm at the Whatcom Conservation District, 354-2035....

Back to Top