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Application Deadline Extended for Farmland Preservation

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Extended Application Deadline for the Lehigh County Farmland Preservation Program

Lehigh County farmland owners will have another opportunity in 2016 to apply for participation in the County’s farmland preservation program.  The program is accepting new applications until Saturday October 1, 2016.  The County’s application deadline had been changed from March 31st to July 1st of each year to help facilitate farmland preservation funding partnerships with Lehigh County municipalities.

With the recent announcement of increased County funding over the next three years, the Preservation Board is extending the deadline to October 1st for this year only to give additional interested landowners an opportunity to apply in 2016.

The County is developing a new Municipal Farmland Preservation Partnership Program in an effort to leverage County and Commonwealth farmland preservation funding to preserve more farmland.  This program will provide County matching funds to townships who offer their own farmland preservation match funding.

Farmland owners who preserve their farms receive payment in return for giving up their development rights.  The farms are protected in perpetuity with agricultural conservation easements.   An agricultural conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or a land trust that permanently protects land for agricultural use by prohibiting other non-compatible land uses.

Applicants’ farms are ranked and prioritized using a farmland evaluation system that takes many factors into consideration including soil quality, farm size, land use, zoning and proximity to other preserved farms.  Top ranked farms are selected for preservation.

As of May 1, 2016, Lehigh County has preserved 267 farms with 21,693 acres of land protected with perpetual agricultural conservation easements.  Lehigh County ranks 5th among all 67 Pennsylvania counties in both the number of farms preserved and the acres of farmland preserved.

                 To obtain an application form and more information on the Lehigh County Farmland Preservation Program call Diane Matthews-Gehringer at 610-391-9583 x 14.

CONTACT:    Diane Matthews-Gehringer

Farmland Preservation Specialist

610-391-9583 x 14

dianematthews-gehringer@lehighcounty.org

County of Lehigh

Bureau of Agricultural Land Preservation

Lehigh County Agricultural Center, Suite 107

4184 Dorney Park Road

Allentown, PA  18104