In 1992 Whatcom County established a Conservation Futures Property Tax Levy and Fund (Whatcom County Code 3.25). The Conservations Futures Fund was established with the express purpose, among others, of acquiring rights and interests in farm and agricultural land "so as to protect, preserve, maintain, improve, restore, limit the future use of, or otherwise conserve property for public use or enjoyment".
Whatcom County established the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program in 2002. The program expanded in 2018 to also protect working forestland and important ecosystems areas as secondary goals, with the primary focus on farmland preservation. In 2021, the program changed names to be the Whatcom County Conservation Easement Program (CEP). Since the program's inception, over 1,500 acres throughout Whatcom County have been protected.
The Conservations Futures Fund has also been used to fund the acquisition of 7,000 acres of parkland for public use and conservation. This includes acquisition rights to some of the County's favorite parks and conservation lands including Birch Bay Community Park (in development), Canyon Lake Community Forest, Lily Point Marine Park, Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve, Squires Lake Park, and Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve.
In addition to the acquisition of development rights and parkland for public use and conservation the county may use up to twenty-five percent of the total amount for maintenance and operations of real property, the rights and interests of which were acquired pursuant to the terms of RCW 84.34.210 and RCW 84.34.220.