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Whatcom Conservation District is Proud to Nominate Local Farmer for Conservation Award.

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Whatcom Conservation District nominated Rich Appel of Appel Farms for his environmental leadership in the Whatcom County agricultural community. On November 27, 2018 he was awarded the Vim Wright ‘Building Bridges’ award at the 2018 annual meeting of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) in Kennewick, WA.

The prestigious award is given to individuals who work within the arena of conservation to foster understanding and partnerships, through community collaborative efforts. The award is given in honor of Vim Wright, a long-time member of the Washington Conservation Commission, who worked tirelessly to bring traditional agriculture and environmental representatives together to work on conservation projects. Just like Vim Wright, Rich Appel is an environmental leader and has continued to facilitate important community partnerships between Whatcom CD and various stakeholder groups for the betterment of Whatcom County.

In addition to jointly owning and operating Appel Farms with his brothers, and their families, Rich serves as vice president of Whatcom Family Farmers, which helps recognize the good work farmers are doing to restore habitat and improve water quality in Whatcom County. Rich is active as a face of stewardship and makes himself available as a speaker to many organizations both locally and regionally.

He serves as an industry leader, representing his farming peers and educating the public on dairy stewardship practices through farm tours and public appearances. Rich is passionate about the health of his community and has worked hard to foster positive, productive relationships between dairy farmers, environmental groups and Lummi Nation. Appel Farms is in close proximity to the Nooksack River, just a few miles from Tribal shellfish harvest beds. However, the Appels are mindful of their responsibility and work hard to keep bacteria from polluting the water. The Appels work closely with Whatcom CD and the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) field office to not only keep their dairy nutrient management plan current, but fully implemented.

Additionally, last year Appel Farms partnered with Whatcom CD, Whatcom County Flood Control Zone District, NRCS and Diking District #3 to install new culverts and self-regulating fish-friendly floodgates on their property on Clarkson Creek, a tributary to the Nooksack River. The installation of these improvements protects Appel Farms from flooding and loss of agricultural productivity, while opening up 2.2 miles of fish habitat upstream! This is another great example of a project that mutually beneficial for both farmers and fish.

Congratulations to Rich Appel and his family for this prestigious award. To learn more about Vim Wright, visit


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