Friends of Toppenish Creek

Our Mission


Friends of Toppenish Creek is dedicated to protecting the rights of rural communities and improving oversight of industrial agriculture. FOTC operates under the simple principle that all people deserve clean air, clean water and protection from abuse that results when profit is favored over people. FOTC works through public education, citizen investigations, research, legislation, special events, and direct action.






 On April 23, 2021 the Friends of Toppenish Creek submitted comments to the WA State Dept. of Ecology regarding revisions to Washington's State Implementation for Air Quality in Yakima County. FOTC stated:


     Yakima County is home to 1/3 of all Washington dairy cows, about 100,000 milkers, that are concentrated in an approximately 271 square mile area in the Lower Yakima Valley (LYV). According to the WA State Department of Ecology (Ecology)1, livestock in Yakima County emitted 8,053.58 tons of ammonia into the ambient air in 2011. Ammonia is a toxic air pollutant under Washington law, WAC 173-460-150. Dairy animals also emit significant amounts of methane, hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which, among other adverse effects, contribute to odor.2

     For over twenty years citizens in the Lower Yakima Valley (LYV) have complained to the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency (YRCAA) about air pollution from concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) dairies in the area. For ten years the agency simply stonewalled.3

     In 2010 the YRCAA initiated work on an Air Quality Management Policy (AQMP) for dairies. The YRCAA approved the policy in 2013 and rescinded the policy in 2018 due to concerns about use of the AQMP data to support litigation. There is no dairy policy in Yakima.3

     Over the years the YRCAA has rejected three requests by citizens to ban spreading/spraying of manure during air inversions and burn bans.3 In 2016 the YRCAA Board of Directors rejected a modest proposal to study ammonia in the ambient air.3 YRCAA ignored research by the Friends of Toppenish Creek (FOTC) that documented high levels of ammonia at a home near LYV dairies.3 The YRCAA has ignored research by John Hopkins University and the University of Washington that documents adverse health effects from dairy emissions in Yakima County.3

     The YRCAA has rejected efforts to incorporate environmental justice into agency planning.3 In 2017, at the request of the Yakima Dairy Federation YRCAA made changes to policy for public testimony before the board and essentially eliminated opportunities to educate the board about air emissions.3

To read the full document click Here.


 On January 27, 2021 the Friends of Toppenish Creek sent a letter of concern to the WA State Conservation Commission regarding poor oversight of the South Yakima Conservation District.

It is impossible for the SYCD to do all of their normal work, plus leadership of the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area Program Implementation, with a staff of one plus clerical support. To read our letter click Here.

To read the WA State Conservation Commission response click Here.  

To read FOTC's follow-up letter on March 14, 2021, click Here.


See a School Bus Disappear in a Cloud of Dairy Dust