Valuable agricultural lands across the state would gain further protection under legislation passed unanimously today by the Senate.
Senate Bill 6082, sponsored by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, would help preserve farmland by expanding the environmental checklist for projects that affect, or are located on, agricultural land.
“If we are serious about agriculture in this state, we have to preserve our farmlands. This gives us one more tool to help us do that,” said Haugen. “We have lands that have been designated as having long-term agricultural significance. This bill adds to the guidelines we rely on to anticipate and control the impacts of projects on agricultural lands.”
Under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), lead governmental agencies must follow a checklist to evaluate the likely impacts of proposed projects on air, water, earth, plants, animals, glare, and numerous other factors. The checklist does not currently include questions relating to agricultural land; Haugen’s bill would add such questions to help agencies find alternatives that minimize impacts on farmlands.
SB 6082 now goes before the House of Representatives.