Cougar Creek Ranch Located east of Ferndale near the Nooksack River, Cougar Creek Ranch is a hidden gem. Named for the tributary of the Nooksack which runs through the property this 157 acre farm was recently protected through Whatcom County’s Agricultural Purchase of Development Rights (Ag PDR) program.
The Cougar Creek property has been in owner Karl Prisk’s family for years. It was first claimed as an original homestead by the Prisk family in 1894 and has been passed down through the generations since then. Prisk himself inherited the farm from his grandmother. Now he and his wife Sophia use the land to raise organic livestock, including heritage breed hogs, turkeys, grass-fed beef, and poultry. A portion of the property is also leased to grow raspberries.
The Ag PDR program is a county sponsored program established to help preserve agricultural lands in Whatcom County and protect them from development. When development rights are purchased Conservation Futures, a fund collected from property taxes, pays fifty percent of the cost which is matched by a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a US Department of Agriculture program. Through this County program willing land owners can protect their properties from future development. For Prisk it took almost three years to get his application completed, but in the end he sold the development rights for a little over $600,000, money that can be used to support his business.
Protecting farmland was the catalyst for the creation of Whatcom Land Trust in 1984 and it continues to be a crucial piece of our mission. Whatcom Land Trust currently manages 22 of these farm easements through the PDR program, protecting around 1,200 acres of agricultural land throughout the County in perpetuity.