Purchase of Development Rights


Whatcom County's population has increased significantly in the last two decades, resulting in an increased loss of our working lands. In order to protect our vital farmland, Whatcom County established the Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) Program in 2002. The program expanded in 2018 to also protect working forestland and important ecosystem areas as secondary goals, with the primary focus on farmland preservation.

The PDR program is a voluntary program that compensates property owners for the value of their unused development rights and protects the land through the placement of permanent conservation easements. Conservation easements are perpetual contract agreements where a landowner agrees to protect the values present within the property, such as working farmlands, working forestlands, and important ecosystems. By protecting these areas we are protecting local economies and local ecosystems for current and future generations.

Since the program's inception, over 1,300 acres throughout Whatcom County have been protected.

PDR Program Map2

The program is guided by an oversight committee composed of farmers, local citizens and business people. As we continue to protect valuable natural areas and working lands, the oversight committee focuses on six conservation goals (see below). These goals serve as a framework to ensure the program is focused on protecting lands that provide the greatest community and public benefit.

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the PDR Program, please contact us today to learn more.

Whatcom PDRP Icons

  • Agriculture - Protect agricultural lands to sustain locally-owned farms, production of healthy foods, and the rural character of our community.
  • Forests - Protect forests to promote clean air and water, enhanced wildlife habitat, and working forest economies.
  • Ecosystems - Protect natural ecosystems to ensure the diversity of life and support essential habitats.
  • Water - Protect water resources to secure safe drinking water and important fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Climate - Protect farms, open space and natural areas to prevent them from being adversely impacted by climate change.
  • Open Space - Protect open spaces to preserve cultural and historic resources, scenic vistas, and recreation opportunities.

PDR StepstoParticipate   PDR Guidelines   PDR Application

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PDR Text-PDRPOversightCommittee

The Purchase of Development Rights Oversight Committee provides oversight and evaluation for the Whatcom County Purchase of Development Rights program, which will enhance the protection of the county's farmland, enhance the long-term viability of agricultural enterprises within the county and provide public benefit by retaining properties in permanent resource use. This committee's role is to advise the Council in the selection of eligible lands offered for Purchase of Development Rights acquisition.
There are 7 members of the Purchase of Development Rights Oversight Committee:

  • 3 Whatcom County farmers
  • 1 citizen (non-farmer) from incorporated city
  • 1 citizen (non-farmer) from unincorporated county
  • 1 individual representing farm-supporting businesses
  • 1 individual with real estate experience


PDR Text-Authority 

  • Resolution # 2001-049 In support of expenditures from Conservation Futures Fund to acquire property interests in agricultural land for strategic conservation purposes.
  • Ordinance # 2002-054 Establishing an agricultural purchase of development rights program and oversight committee.
  • Date of formation: December 8, 2002
PDR Text-PDRPOversightCommitteeInformation
Date Agenda Minutes
February 26, 2021 Agenda Minutes
February 10, 2021- Special Meeting Agenda Minutes
January 22, 2021 Agenda Minutes
December 4, 2020 Agenda Minutes
October 23, 2020 Agenda Minutes
September 25, 2020 Agenda Minutes
August 28, 2020 Agenda Minutes
June 26, 2020 Agenda Minutes
March 27, 2020 Cancelled  
February 28, 2020 Agenda Minutes
January 24, 2020 Agenda Minutes
December 13, 2019 Agenda Minutes
November 1, 2019 Agenda Minutes
PDR Text-PDRPCommitteeMembers
Burr Neely, chair Paul Schissler
Jagjiwan Brar, vice-chair Heather MacKay-Brown
Sean D'Agnolo Jen Glyzinski