Historic $100 Million Milestone Reached for Agricultural Land Conservation in Marin County

December 5, 2023

Today is a historic day for Marin County conservation.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors just approved matching grant funds through the Farmland Preservation Program (Measure A) for the protection of the 592-acre Bivista Ridge Ranch as well as the 1,179-acre Spring Valley Ranch. We have now secured funding to protect these two ranches with agricultural conservation easements and, once complete, MALT and our many partners will surpass $100 million invested in agricultural land conservation within Marin County.

Since our founding in 1980, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) has been working with local landowners to acquire voluntary agricultural conservation easements. These easements protect the land’s conservation values while also requiring that it remains in agricultural production. To date, MALT has secured 93 easements totaling more than 55,700 acres of farm and ranchland—the backbone of Marin’s agricultural economy.

 

Many of the Bay Area’s most highly acclaimed meats, dairy products, fiber, and produce are produced on MALT-protected farms and ranches. By conserving these working lands we have ensured this landscape continues to produce milk, cheese, butter, meats, vegetables, and so much more—the fruit of more than 40 years of dutiful land conservation. 

This $100 million investment represents more than the food on our tables; these agricultural lands help sustain the local economy and are the lifeblood for communities across West Marin. In 2022, the estimated total gross value of Marin County’s agricultural production was $94 million, much of which was grown or raised on MALT-protected land. 

This working landscape also plays a pivotal role in helping mitigate climate change. Through this land’s careful stewardship, we can capture planet-warming greenhouse gasses and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Our investment in local land conservation is more than a local responsibility, it’s a global imperative. 

Safeguarding Marin County’s farm and ranchlands is essential to preserve our agricultural economy as well as the resilience of our regional ecosystem.

Our investment in this growing network of protected land has also helped to conserve one of the most biologically diverse corners of the planet. With these two additional ranches protected, we will soon have conserved 26,305 acres of our region’s critical habitat linkages. Protecting and stewarding these pathways for life is essential as the climate changes and the natural resilience of our ecosystems continues to be tested. 

Of course, this historic milestone would not be possible without our partners in conservation. The funding approved today comes from Measure A, a one-quarter of one-percent sales tax voters renewed in 2022. Since its initial passage in 2012, our team at MALT has utilized this funding to protect more than 13 farms and ranches totaling more than 7,953 acres. 

Matching public funding with private donations has proven to be an effective model of advancing land preservation here in Marin County, a strategy we will continue to leverage in the coming years. We are tremendously grateful for this ongoing support—today’s historic milestone was made possible through the ongoing commitment of our generous donors, partner organizations, and Marin County voters.

While there’s much to celebrate, our work is far from over. Nearly half of Marin County’s working landscapes remain without conservation easements and the vitality of agriculture here remains threatened by rising costs, changing weather patterns, housing shortages impacting the agricultural community, and so much more. In the coming years, we are committed to doubling down on our land conservation efforts and helping secure the infrastructure needed for a resilient agricultural economy.

Thank you for your continued support.

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