“The availability of water is vital to the future of agriculture in Whatcom County,” Lynne Rainey Wheeler said. She is a dairy farmer in Whatcom County. Her family’s farm, Coldstream Farms, is in the South Fork Valley. They have been farming there since 1978.
In that time they have focused on being good stewards of the land and taking care of the Nooksack River basin where they farm.
“As a family we have made tremendous investments in taking care of the water of the Nooksack River. We have invested in grant projects. We have changed the way we manage our nutrients in our lands to ensure that the water remains clean and that the salmon can continue to thrive in that basin. We’ve also given up valuable land that we use to feed our cows, so that we can create adequate buffers and do best management practices to make sure that we’re caring for the natural resources and clean water that the Nooksack provides.”
Rainey says water adjudication, moving forward, really threatens the future of agriculture in Whatcom County.
“The availability of water in Whatcom County is so important to our farm and the future of our farm. If I don’t know that I’m going to be able to have enough water to feed my cows or irrigate my land how can I know that there’s a future for my family to farm in this county — I don’t.”
Their farm has been responsible users of water in the valley and in Whatcom County.
“We have worked and partnered with the Department of Ecology and local tribes to work together to ensure we protect this natural resource. But when things like this move forward it changes that relationship. Something where we used to be able to collaborate really well and work together on, because we all value it, has changed with this kind of a movement. When I think about the future of my farm and I have to worry about whether I have enough water to continue it really makes me worry about ‘will my kids be able to farm here? Will I be able to continue to do this in Whatcom County if I don’t have the resources I need to continue?’”
Rainey says the important thing is that she is a resident in your county producing food to help feed your family, and when water rights are restricted or controlled it challenges that desire.
“We work hard to be good stewards and protect the resources that are also important to you. At the end of the day, I need your support. We are family farms here in Whatcom County and we would like to remain a viable part of your community. I’m asking for your help and for you to stay informed and support us.”
Find out how you can help at fishneedfarms.org.