Black Swamp Conservancy protects 600-acre farm

The Black Swamp Conservancy, along with the U.S. and Ohio departments of agriculture, has entered into a permanent farmland preservation agreement with a Sandusky County family. The agreement covers a 604-acre farm, the Conservancy’s largest protected property to date.

The farm is owned by Washusky Farms LTD and managed by a brother and sister, Ron and Judy Mauch, owners of Washusky Farms. The family includes parents Chester and Betty Mauch, who had already protected two parcels, covering 230 acres, with permanent farmland preservation agreements with Black Swamp Conservancy. The family is working with the Conservancy to protect another 349 acres of agricultural land.

Located west of Fremont, the 604-acre farm is part of a 4,000-acre family farming operation. The portion recently protected is significant to the Mauch family because it includes the original 80-acre farm purchased by Chester Mauch’s father in 1915. Originally a small dairy operation, today the farm produces corn, soybeans, wheat, tomatoes and sugar beets.

“We’re really pleased to work with great farming families like the Mauchs to protect our region’s best agricultural land,” said Kevin Joyce, executive director of Black Swamp Conservancy.

Ohio loses 40,000 acres of rural land to development every year. “It’s scary how much farmland we’re losing to development in Ohio,” Joyce said. “Every eight years we lose enough agricultural land to cover Sandusky County.”

To address the loss of agricultural land in northwest Ohio, Black Swamp Conservancy has created a plan it expects will speed up its farmland protection efforts. The 604-acre Washusky farm serves as an anchor for one of the Conservancy’s farmland protection focus areas.

In northwestern Sandusky County where most land is used for agriculture, much of the land lying along roads and highways is being converted to residential lots. The protected property, which includes over 16,000 feet of frontage on a major highway, is close to other farms protected by Black Swamp Conservancy with permanent farmland preservation agreements. That is consistent with the Conservancy’s goal of linking properties to create large tracts of preserved agricultural land.

By signing a permanent farmland preservation agreement, the landowner gives up the right to develop the property for commercial or residential use in order to protect the land’s conservation values, including its rich agricultural soil and water. The agreement is binding on the landowner who signs the document, along with every future owner of that land. Black Swamp Conservancy is responsible for working with the landowner to ensure their ability to comply with the terms of the agreement.

Since its founding in 1993, Black Swamp Conservancy has permanently protected 11,000 acres of family farms and natural areas such as wetlands, meadows and woods.

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