The Kohler Dairy Farm is located on the northeastern end of Midway. Wasatch Back residents may be familiar with the Kohler family store Heber Valley Artisan Cheese. Now the dairy farm is partnering with Utah Open Lands to preserve 100 acres of their farm from development.
Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher says the Kohler family approached Utah Open Lands about conservation opportunities for their land. Utah Open Lands and Kohler Dairy announced their plans to seek conservation easement on Tuesday morning. Fisher explains the dairy has been a part of Midway since the late 1800’s.
“The Kohler Dairy is in its fourth and fifth generation of the same family farming the same land,” Fisher explained. “It's really one of those places that is iconic. Anybody who drives into midway see the cheese shop which is really the main way that you know you've arrived at the Kohler dairy. They have been providing milk and cheese for the Midway area and beyond since the early 1900’s.”
Fisher also noted the Kohler family’s commitment to conservation. The family worked with the Bureau of Reclamation in the late 90’s to protect 50 acres of land along the Provo river.
The property that the family is hoping to conserve now is about 102 acres and serves as the main pasture for the farm’s dairy cows.
“These very happy dairy cows are able to walk in and get milked whenever they want to from a robotic dairy barn,” Fisher continued. “Very soon their entire dairy barn operation will actually be off the grid. They will have it powered by an alternative energy source. So, the family really looks at this as a legacy that they're going to leave for the community and for the next generation, if they are able to do a conservation easement.”
Utah Open Lands and the Kohler Family have gone through an appraisal of the land. The conservation easement appraisal doesn’t represent the full fair market value but a portion of the value. That total came to seven million dollars.
Utah Open Lands has applied for funding from Federal and State funding sources.
Last year Midway City and Wasatch County voters approved bonds to be used for Open Space. Midway approved a five-million-dollar bond while Wasatch County approved a $10 million bond. Fisher says that Utah Open Lands will seek local support from those bonds as well.
“When we look at any of these projects getting federal or even state or even private foundation support is really critical to have that local support,” Fisher explained. “At this point both of those programs are in process, so we don't have any decisions and I don't believe that Wasatch County actually has an open application process yet, but we hope to be able to work with the local sources of funding. Because they are really critical to getting additional funding.”
Fisher says the potential development of the Kohler’s land would have an impact on Midways economy.
“This really sets part of the entry corridor for the entire city,” Fisher said. “The idea that the cheese shop might go away and be replaced by development would really have an impact on the tourism economy as well. So protecting this land is about more than just the open space and the agricultural, the scenic value, the ability that the public has to educate themselves on the farming process. Really it comes down to something that has become an economic force for this community.”