Jersey cow enjoys Longbranch pasture. Photo: Richard Miller, KP News

Farmers on the Key Peninsula now have a person to turn to for assistance when needed. Paul Borne is the Pierce Conservation District watershed farm resource specialist for the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor as of March 2018. 

PCD works to preserve natural resources. The organization assists landowners and public agencies with the goal of improving the local economy and quality of life. Technical assistance is provided as a free service. PCD’s annual budget of over 2 million dollars comes from multiple sources including local, state and federal grants. PCD is a special purpose organization, not a regulatory agency or part of county government.

“We’re here to help educate; our mission is not to regulate or enforce county codes,” Borne said. “If we see something that isn’t to code, we’ll point it to the landowner but we’re not on their land to mandate change.”

The organization has a long history of collaboration with Key Peninsula landowners. With the help of volunteers from the community, PCD plants trees on the Key Peninsula to improve soil and connect forested land parcels to provide continuous habitat. It conducts workshops to educate livestock owners on the importance of manure bins to manage waste; encourages growth and donations of surplus garden produce to local food banks; and hosts boat tours aimed at educating waterfront property owners on erosion-preventing vegetation that can provide an alternative to bulkheads.

PCD also rents and loans expensive equipment, such as no-till seed drills and poultry processing equipment.

Borne is neither new to the area nor to the work. While residing in Pierce County, he worked as a resource specialist for King Conservation District in Renton for nearly two decades. Borne said he sees an overall increase of interest in hobby farming along with varying levels of farmer experience.

On the Key Peninsula, Borne will advise, assist and work with livestock owners. “My focus will be to provide them technical assistance and instruction to implement best management practices (BMPs) to improve manure management, decrease soil erosion and improve pasture production, which can all lead to cleaner water for the Key Peninsula. These BMPs can improve the natural resource conditions on their farms while also improving animal health, increasing chore efficiency and saving money,” he said.

Dawn Kinzel, who raises a few goats and chickens at Harmony Hill Farm in Vaughn, was one of the first Key Peninsula farmers to utilize Borne’s help. “He was kind enough to look at our water problem,” she said. “We’re on the side of a hill and have sludge for nine months of the year and hardpan for the other three. He brought an engineer out to look at possible drainage.” 

The Key Peninsula is located in one of nine sub-watershed areas in Pierce County and therefore qualifies for aditional assistance. “The Priority Watershed Project was created by PCD to make noticeable natural resource conservation improvements in our county,” Borne said. “The Key Peninsula sub-watersheds—Case and Carr Inlets—were two of the nine chosen. This means that 80 percent of our farm technical assistance program will be directed to the Case and Carr Inlet sub-watersheds.” 

When he is not promoting conservation at work, Borne enjoys enhancing his backyard wildlife habitat by “controlling invasive nonnative vegetation, planting native trees and shrubs for birds and pollinators, providing supplemental food and water for birds, and minimizing my use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers,” he said.

“I am passionate about protecting and improving the natural environment and believe we all have an important role to play in this task,” Borne said. “I am excited to work with farmers and landowners and assist them with natural resource management on their land.”

For more information contact Paul Borne at PaulB@piercecd.org or 253-845-9770.

King Geoduck, Native Clam of Distinction
George Robison and the KP Lions Club