Conservation Easement: The Burr Family Farm

Cascade Farms, owned by Colton and Alicia Burr, consists of 20 acres that run for a third of a mile along the Provo River Trail. The land is zoned residential agriculture but is under extremely high development pressure. Recently, a developer proposed covering the farm with commercial warehouses. The farm, currently pasture for grazing livestock, lies inside two bends in the Provo River with Utah Lake State Park to the west and Alligator Park to the east. North of the farm, more than 500 acres have already been preserved, including the Provo River Delta and farms owned by the Despain, Robbins, Seale, and Walker families. Two more families also hope to apply for easements in the area.

 

Why protect the Burr Farm? 

For our entire community’s benefit! Because most of the land between the Provo River Delta Project area and the old Provo river channel is currently protected by conservation easements, the Burr’s farm is an important puzzle piece to preserve the character of this area. Year round, thousands of our residents walk, run, and bike the popular trail between the Burr Farm and the Provo River, and many more will come out to enjoy the Delta’s new trails and kayak launches. We want to continue to experience an uninterrupted natural landscape—meadows, treed corridors, grazing animals, and singing birds—rather than forbidding walls, industrial warehouses, mechanical noise, or the private backyards of a housing development. Currently the Burr Farm shelters many sensitive species of wildlife, including eagles, hawks, falcons, herons, owls, pelicans, gulls, terns, ibis, and butterflies. Threatened species in the area include the June Sucker and the Ute Ladies’ Tresses, a perennial orchid species.

What is a conservation easement? 

A conservation easement guarantees that a piece of land will remain undeveloped in perpetuity. Developers typically pressure farmers and ranchers to sell their property at a high price so the developers can put houses, businesses, or warehouses on the property. As a result, farmland tends to disappear because a farmer’s children generally cannot afford to buy out their siblings, and young couples struggle to make a living on a farm while paying the mortgage on a multi-million-dollar property. In a conservation easement the farmer transfers their development rights to a land trust. The land trust ensures the land is never developed. The benefits of the easement are multiple: farmers are compensated for the value of their land’s development rights but continue to own the land and keep it in agricultural production; farm taxes are reduced; the community, which typically purchases the development rights through tax dollars or private donations, benefits from the permanent preservation of open space and the enhancement of local food security; and the easement may also protect historical lands and buildings valued by the community.

Future Plans

The Burr family currently grazes livestock on their land and wants to give local residents the opportunity to visit a working farm. The Burrs plan to plant an orchard and vegetable gardens for pick-your-own fruit and vegetables. They also plan to hold community events on their farm, open the farm to Future Farmers of America students from Provo High, and establish a small farm animal petting zoo for children. The Burrs’ plans for agritourism will provide a kind of recreation that significantly enhances the public value of this area.

Funding

This past January the Burrs received news that their application for funding from the Natural  Resource Conservation Service was approved. This grant will only cover fifty percent of the total value of the conservation easement. We are committed to help the Burrs raise the remaining funds needed to accomplish this dream. We encourage public officials and private citizens to join us in preserving this key piece of agricultural land. Every private donation helps and proves to our elected officials that our community takes conservation seriously which encourages matching public funds.