County’s farmers are force for protecting environment

Snohomish County finally came to a reasonable conclusion about whether farmers need a permit to plow next to rivers and streams. Thankfully, they don’t.

It took months to resolve questions over whether development rules that regulate the grading of land might also apply to farmers plowing their fields. Late last month, the county planning office said that it had resolved the issue with a clarification from the International Conference of Building Officials, which interprets building codes.

The interpretation came after substantial pushing by the Snohomish County Agricultural Advisory Board. The board’s considerable, low-profile efforts helped bring much-needed common sense to the final decision that grading regulations don’t apply to regular plowing activity.

The length of the discussions is very much a measure of the pressures created by the listing of chinook salmon under the federal Endangered Species Act. Reasonably, county officials worried about the impacts any statement might have in environmental wrangling over fish protection. But acting as if plowing might actually be grading flew in the face of reality. Such a pretense inevitably would become a roadblock to establishing good policies and practices for the longer term.

As the county and its residents recognize, farmers here have been good stewards of the land. The preservation of agriculture will be vital to protecting both water quality and the overall health of the environment in Snohomish County and around the state.

After the immediate question was resolved, Mike Ashley, the advisory board’s chairman, described the county’s ruling as "a great relief, because we have tied up so much time in this particular issue." As board members know, however, the county still needs to address several related matters. A key question for the future is how the county will create controls to assure that farming near critical environmental areas operates under some definable standards, just as other activities do. The lesson of the grading discussion is that the main factors to keep in mind are clear, common-sense guidelines and fairness. For instance, farmers should be allowed to continue plowing on fields near streams in critical areas, just as already-constructed homes are allowed to stay in those areas.

Common sense and fairness are all that farmers need and all they ask.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, June 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

EMBARGO: No electronic distribution, Web posting or street sales before WEDNESDAY 3:01 A.M. ET, Feb. 28, 2024. No exceptions for any reasons. EMBARGO set by source. FILE — An AR-15 style firearm at Clark Brothers Gun Shop in Warrenton, Va., Feb. 25, 2018. The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments about a bump stock ban, a Trump administration rule put in place after the Las Vegas massacre. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
Editorial: U.S. Supreme Court ‘ducks’ reason on bump stocks

The majority defies common sense and ignores potential violence to rule against a regulatory agency.

Father's Day is a holiday of honouring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society.
Editorial: Men, boys could use a little help to be better men

The work of fathers could be aided by a state commission focused on the issues of boys and men.

Paul: Warning on social media helps, but much more necessary

We know the harms social media causes children; Congress should take steps to better regulate it.

Goldberg: Trump movie not coming soon to a theater near you

A movie about Trump and his lawyer, Roy Cohn, can’t find a U.S. distributor. Take a guess why.

Trump speaks like a dictator; is that what we want?

Trump supporters had better start thinking seriously about life under dictatorship. The… Continue reading

Herald’s coverage of Pride events is appreciated

Thank you to Aina de Lapparent Alvarez for the informative, well-written article… Continue reading

President Biden will wait until after election to pardon son

Sleepy Joe Biden will pardon his son, after he is reelected. But… Continue reading

Comment: Ruling on abortion pill access may be short-lived

Despite a unanimous decision upholding access to mifepristone, it left open avenues for challenge.

The City of Everett is set to purchase two single sidewalk restrooms from Romtec, a company based in Roseburg, Ore., for $315,000. (Romtec)
Editorial: Utilitarian but sturdy restrooms should be a relief

Everett is placing four stalls downtown that should be accessible but less prone to problems.

Artist Natalie Niblack works amongst her project entitled “33 Birds / Three Degrees” during the setup for Exploring The Edge at Schack Art Center on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The paintings feature motion-activated speakers that play each bird’s unique call. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: For 50 years Schack Art Center there for creation

The art center is more art studio than museum, supporting artists and fostering creativity in kids.

toon
Editorial cartoons for Monday, June 17

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.