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Campaign to save Petersen Farm makes community goal

Great Peninsula Conservancy (GPC) has succeeded in raising $415,000 from the local community to help save Silverdale’s Petersen Farm. A tremendous response from Great Peninsula Conservancy members and the public at large made this accomplishment possible. More than 250 people, groups, and public agencies donated to the campaign. Contributions were received from across the Great Peninsula — from Hansville on the north to Belfair and Gig Harbor on the south. Gifts also came from around Puget Sound and even as far as Guam and Germany.

The campaign was completed with a closing gift of $20,000 from Frank Stutesman of Snohomish County. Stutesman was able to make the gift from the required annual distribution from his IRA, and by so doing avoid paying federal income tax on the distribution. Phone calls to Great Peninsula Conservancy in the closing days indicated high interest in the project. The campaign deadline of November 15 was extended to November 30 to allow these late donors to participate.

While the community goal of $415,000 has been achieved, the farm’s fate is not yet secured. These funds are to be used as match in a grant application to USDA Farm and Ranchland Protection Program for an additional $285,000 to achieve the total project budget of $700,000. Application will be made early in 2012 with a decision by spring or early summer.

Other significant donors to the campaign include Estate of Gerald Petersen — approx. $200,000; Bill and Bee Mahan Charitable Trust - $43,000; Port of Silverdale - $25,000; an anonymous Kitsap family - $20,000; Gary and Marilyn Cunningham - $10,000; Jerry and Nancy Reid - $10,000; Linda Benedict - $5,000; and Bremerton Rotary - $5,000.

Gerald Petersen, the farm’s owner, passed away in September 2009 and his will instructed his niece, Dorothy Lind, to sell the property, while trying to ensure that it is conserved as a working farm. GPC had long been interested in conserving this Clear Creek Valley landscape and proposed to purchase a conservation easement on the farm to give permanent protection to the land. The estate then would sell the land to a private individual who would farm the land under the conservation restrictions. These restrictions permanently extinguish development rights from the land and conserve its natural features — farm fields, creek, and forests.

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