The Bureau of Agricultural Land Preservation works with the nine member Sterling Raber Agricultural Land Preservation Board of Lehigh County to preserve farmland within Lehigh County. The name of the board was changed at the end of 2009 to honor Sterling Raber, former county commissioner and chairman of the farmland preservation board, for his long-time dedication and commitment to protecting agriculture and rural life in Lehigh County.
Total Acreage The preservation of farmland is accomplished through the purchase of agricultural conservation easements (also known as the purchase of development rights) on eligible Lehigh County farm properties. As of September 24, 2013, the County Board has protected 252 Lehigh County farms covering a total of 20,969 acres with perpetual agricultural conservation easements. Click on the map below for an overview of the entire county and on the photos at left for a close-up view. The most recent addition to the program is the Harold and Linda Tyson farm, a 208 acre property in Lynn Township.
Funding Status The funding distribution for each county was announced at the State Board Meeting February 14 in Harrisburg. Subtracting what is needed to complete the 2012 easement acquisitions, there is $1.1 million for Lehigh County's 2013 Application Round. Six applications were received by the March 31st deadline.
The County Land Preservation Board will revisit the motion made in 2012 regarding the per acre cap, as they do every year. Keep in mind that the Board voted to limit the increase in easement value from second opinion appraisals to no more than 50% above the original offer.
Five Farms Selected for Appraisal After the new applications were ranked according to soil quality, development potential, agricultural/farming potential, and "clustering" potential, the farms were placed on the waiting list according to their total score (the higher the score, the closer the farm will be to the top of the list). Based on the available funding, the Board was able to select the top five highest-scoring farms for appraisal: four in Heidelberg and one in Lynn Township.
Community Garden Plots All questions and concerns about plot assignments, plot inspections, and general administration of the sites at both Cedarbrook and Jordan Creek Parkway are being handled by Dora Gensemer. She can be reached at 610-391-9583, ext. 17, or at the Farmland Preservation office located at the Lehigh County Agricultural Center, Suite 107, 4184 Dorney Park Road, South Whitehall Township.
Lehigh County Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Manual