Fourth Generation Dairy Seeks Conservation Easement

Midway— Conservation is at the root of what has sustained The Albert Kohler Dairy since the late 1800s.  Farming is not an easy profession, combining business acumen, long laboring days and a bit of clairvoyance.  Dairy farming is often a factor of two in comparison to other agricultural pursuits and in the current climate, both figuratively and literally; dairy farming is more like sailing a ship with a definite ‘all hands on deck’ motto; all the time. 

So why would a family continue to dedicate its energy and ingenuity to making cheese?  It’s not just the milk you had with cereal this morning or the cheese board you will serve your guests. It is the glue for a community, intent on saving part of what makes the community unique.  Without Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, Park City restaurants, Midway locals and the state of Utah would miss out on Snake Creek Cheddar and Wasatch Back Jack—cheeses that give a nod to where this dairy has lived for over a century, Midway City in Wasatch County.

Working with Utah Open Lands over the past few years the Kohler family has set in motion a way to make their long-held conservation ethic of the land a reality.  Through the bargain sale of a conservation easement to Utah Open Lands the Kohler family hopes that the purchase of the conservation easement, the price determined through an appraisal, will be enough to retire debts and bring about fairness in the LeRoy Kohler Family, which consists of six brothers, three sisters and more great grandbabies than one can count on a single hand.

“It’s really Grant that continues to bang his head against the barn door,” says Kameron Kohler.  Kam, like his eight other siblings, is accustomed to the chore of milking cows and the reality of this kind of farming.  It is with a full understanding of the premium price that development would pay to replace the pasture with private single-family homes that the entire Kohler family made the decision to work with Utah Open Lands towards a conservation solution that will allow them to continue providing local artisan cheeses.  “It is our family business and we are all committed to that simple fact,” says Grant Kohler.  Since the first part of the last century Kohlers have been providing the Heber valley with dairy products.

“The Albert Kohler Legacy Farm is about more than saving land,” says Wendy Fisher, Executive Director of Utah Open Lands.  “It is about saving a cultural legacy, an innovative way forward and the fundamental value protected places bring to our world” said Ms. Fisher.

Utah Open Lands has applied for funding for the Kohler Dairy with both the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services Agricultural Land Easement program and with the State LeRay McAllister Critical Lands Fund.  Fisher says additional funds from other sources will be needed as well.  Utah Open Lands and the Kohlers will be on site with the Quality Growth Commission and Federal Representatives on Tuesday August 27, 2019.