Contributed photo

Beaverton Marsh Preserve: What’s going on in that field

  • Wed Jun 23rd, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by the San Juan County Land Bank.

If you frequent Roche Harbor Road, passing by the San Juan County Land Bank’s Beaverton Marsh Preserve, you’ve probably noticed some different agricultural activities happening in the roadside fields lately. That’s because these pastures are transitioning from an annual hay harvest to a seasonal grazing operation. SJI rancher Mike Sundstrom has decided he doesn’t need the extra hay anymore, and the Shephard family has been selected for a two-year farm lease for seasonal grazing. The Shephard’s will bring in a flock of sheep to rotate through the pastures using portable electric fencing. In preparation, the pastures have been trimmed to extend the grass growing season.

In addition, you may see flagging and odd mowing patterns mid-field. These areas are WSU Extension research plots. Research is focused on soil amendment applications and no-till seeding trials, with the goal of providing useful pasture management information and recommendations to San Juan County farmers and landowners.

During this lease period, the Land Bank intends to develop a Request for Proposals for a long-term farm lease(s). In preparation for doing so, they will be looking closely at the agricultural resources and infrastructure needs, including soils, water resources, fencing, and access. If water resources allow, there is potential for more than one type of farming operation, perhaps a small-scale row crop production or orchard area in combination with grazing and/or haying. If you are interested in learning more about future farmland lease opportunities contact Charlie Behnke at

About the San Juan County Land Bank

The San Juan County Land Bank is a local land conservation program, created by voters in 1990, and funded by a 1% real estate excise tax paid by purchasers of property in San Juan County. Through conservation easements or outright purchases, the Land Bank protects special places in the Islands including coastlines, farmland, forests and wetlands. For more information, contact the Land Bank at 360-378-4402 or visit