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Farmland Board adds two more farms to protected status

By THERESA MARTHEY

The Preston County News and Journal

KINGWOOD, W.Va.  — The Preston County Farmland Protection Board has added two more farms for a total of five safeguarded from future development in the past year.

Director LaDeana Teets shared the news of the two additional farms with the Preston County Commission at a recent meeting.

“The addition of these two farms brings our total easements to 667 acres,” Teets said. “The two farms are located in Kingwood and in Portland District north of Terra Alta.”

Maurice and Nancy Hoffman own the farm in Portland District, and it is approximately 109.8 acres of gently rolling land east of Briery Mountain.

“I remember coming to this farm when I was around 6 years old and helping my uncle,” Hoffman told the Preston County News & Journal. “I want this land to remain a farm like it always has been.

“I would also like to see my four children come back here and retire,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman leases the land to his neighbor so his cattle can graze, and the neighbor raises hay, corn, wheat and sometimes sorghum.

“To be honest, I like seeing the cattle graze out my window,” Hoffman said. “But I don’t have to worry about taking care of them.”

Hoffman said the process to protect the land seemed to take forever.

“I remember applying for the protection several years ago, and then again last year,” Hoffman said. “As long as it is protected, that is what I care about.”

The second farm protected is in Kingwood and is owned by James and Robina White off Dinkenberger Road on Aquatic Way.

“We chose to protect this farm for several reasons,” Teets said. “One is the city of Kingwood continues to grow and the threat of development in the area grows also.”

“There are several houses on three sides of the property currently,” Teets said. “And the property contains important soils essential for a productive farm.”

The property is also located on rolling hills in a large bend of the Cheat River, and is used as pastures and hay for the White horses, as well as aquaculture.

Teets told the commissioners there are continuing challenges for farmland protection across the state and in Preston County.

“The problem really comes with severed mineral and gas rights,” Teets said. “With the gas, we know the companies can pull gas from neighboring farms, but the pad cannot be on the farm we are looking to protect.

“Then there are a lot of people who no longer own the mineral rights,” Teets said. “And the owners of those rights can come in and remove those minerals.”

Teets said the board has several applications that are out they are looking at.

“We have another $500,000 we can use to protect Preston County farms,” Teets told the commissioners. “Federal funding is very difficult to come by because their requirements are farms of 250-plus acres. We don’t have farms that large.

“Our farms are around 100 acres or so,” Teets said. “But we have been able to work that out.”

The farms protected include two farms in Gladesville and one in Aurora, in addition to the new farms.

According to Teets, the average cost per acre on these five farms is $2,158.62.

See more from The Preston County News and Journal

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