BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Farmland Protection Board recently honored former member Dr. Joseph Reed for his time as treasurer on the board.
On behalf of the Upshur County Farmland Protection Board, Lowell Peterson attended the Oct. 7 Upshur County Commission meeting to discuss the board’s mission and read a resolution from June 2021 in honor of Dr. Reed.
“I wanted to thank the commission for the promptness in which you fill the vacancies that occur on our board and with the kinds of people that you’ve been able to fill those openings with,” Peterson said. “Particularly, I want to recognize one of the individuals who has gone off the board, one of the early members of the board, Dr. Joseph Reed, who is with us. I asked him to come because I want to read a resolution that was adopted by the Farmland Protection Board back in June; this is a resolution of appreciation for Dr. Joseph Reed, treasurer.”
The resolution honoring Reed, who served two terms as treasurer, commends him for his dedication and valued service in managing Upshur County’s resources.
The Farmland Protection Board’s mission is to protect and preserve the agricultural lands of Upshur County, according to its website, and the way that’s typically accomplished is through the purchase or donation of conservation easements, which are “designed to provide stability for future agricultural enterprises in Upshur County.” A conservation easement is a legal agreement parties voluntarily enter into that limits uses of the land in order to protect its value for certain purposes – for instance, to be utilized as farmland.
Peterson said the board recently made a few changes to their ranking system for properties.
“As the board receives applications for a farmland protection easement, one of the first things we do is rank the property that is involved in that application,” Peterson said. “We have to rank it for its suitability for agricultural purposes, as well as its suitability for development purposes, for either housing development or industrial development or something other than agriculture.”
The ranking system determines whether the board moves forward with an application based on a numerical value the property receives.
“Some of the agricultural attributes that we look at are the size of the property, the soil that is present, whether it’s soil that is highly suitable for agriculture or maybe moderately suitable, certainly the topography, whether it’s suitable for farming again, the current usage of the property, is it being farmed now or would it be necessary to do a lot of development to have it ready for farming? … and the status of the mineral rights,” Peterson explained.
Other qualities they evaluate include historical value, recreational value and unique features.
“Our current ranking system has a maximum of 725 points that can be achieved by a property,” Peterson said. “At the present time, the board is requiring that at least half of those points be met before we proceed forward with an application.”
The board has tried several methods to promote the program, including several newspaper articles and mailings that have gone out with the last two requests from the Upshur County Assessor’s Office for farmland assessments.
“To date, the board has received six formal applications,” Peterson said. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries, but we’ve received six applications, and that’s the total in the history of the existence of this board since 2012. One of them has been completed and we do hold the farm easement – the conservation easement – for one property. We have another property that is in the process of being purchased now. We’ve only had two of those six applications that have met the criteria from the ranking system that I described earlier to you.”
The full text of the resolution honoring Reed appears below:
“Whereas, Dr. Joseph Reed, M.D. has served two consecutive terms as a member of the Upshur County Farmland Protection Board and whereas, Dr. Reed has provided valuable insight to the county commission or to the county Farmland Protection Board, representing the interests of the citizens of Upshur County, and
Whereas, Dr. Reid has served as treasurer of the Upshur County Farmland Protection Board, and thereby maintained the financial records of the board, and
Whereas Dr. Reed has diligently sought to manage the resources of the Upshur County Farmland Protection Board.
Now therefore it is resolved that the Upshur County Farmland Protection Board does hereby publicly acknowledge and recognize Dr. Joseph Reed, M.D., for his dedicated and valuable service to the Upshur County.”