- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

CAMANO ISLAND, Wash. (AP) - A Camano Island family that runs a popular zip-line tour has earned another kind of recognition.

The Kristoferson family has been named Washington Wildlife Farmer of the Year by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Conservation Commission.The award is for their conservation efforts on the family’s 231-acre property.

The family has planted trees and other plants to restore the riparian zone along the creek that runs through their property. They also recently built a bridge over the creek that runs through their property, among other conversation projects, The Daily Herald reported (http://is.gd/Bp9Izj ).

Five siblings manage the property that has been handed down from one generation to the next since 1912.

Mona Campbell and Nancy O’Neal are part of generation four, along with two more sisters and a brother. Generations five and six - a group of 10, so far - are around, zip-lining through the trees and helping with harvests.

The Wildlife Farmer award has been given annually for more than 20 years. It recognizes farmers who work to improve wildlife habitats and promote sustainable farming, said Monte Marti, district manager for the Snohomish Conservation District.

Kristoferson Farm stood out for a number of reasons, said Ryan Williams, the district’s program integration manager.

They’ve removed invasive species and diseased trees from the woods on their property, built bridges and other creek crossings to widen waterways for fish and planted thousands of trees and shrubs along a creek that bisects their land. The U.S. and state departments of agriculture have certified the farm as organic, meaning they do not use synthetic pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified plants.

“They’ve also helped us out over the last five years or so by hosting events to help us educate others about these kinds of farming and forestry practices,” Williams said.

The family has a stewardship plan that looks up to 10 years ahead for conservation projects, Campbell said.

“As our generation came into managing the farm, what we became aware of is the need to really manage it,” Campbell said. “Even with the forest, you can’t just leave it. There’s a lot you need to do to keep a healthy forest and farm. You have to have a list because the time goes by so quickly.”

The Snohomish Conservation District has worked with the Kristoferson family for about 12 years, Marti said.

“They’ve really bought into being good stewards of the land,” he said. “And they really do try to be community leaders.”

O’Neal takes pride in the bright green, rectangular award she and her siblings brought home earlier this month. The family name stands out in gold script.

“We were just so psyched,” she said.

The award was presented to O’Neal, Campbell, Betsy Kristoferson, Kris Kristoferson and Melissa Elliot.

Their great-grandfather, a Swedish immigrant from a family of dairy farmers, bought the Camano Island farm and a dairy that has since been sold.

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Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com

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