Key Funding Secured to Protect Tomales’ Duncan Ranch

September 27, 2022

Earlier today, our team secured half of the funding needed to protect the 540-acre Duncan Ranch just east of Tomales through an agricultural conservation easement. This property’s oak-studded grasslands are now just a few steps away from being protected in perpetuity from the threat of development, ensuring they remain in productive agriculture for generations to come. We couldn’t be more excited and look forward to finalizing this easement in the coming months.

Funding for the $2.7 million easement will come from two sources: half from private donations to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) and half from Marin County’s Measure A, a quarter-cent sales tax devoted to preserving Marin County’s parks, open spaces and agricultural land. Securing public funding from the county today in the Marin Board of Supervisors meeting was a critical step towards safeguarding this ranch and helping bolster the region’s agricultural vitality and ecological resilience.

Nearly the entirety of the Duncan Ranch has been deemed “Farmland of Local Importance” by the California Department of Conservation. The ranch’s rich soils, diverse and healthy grassland are capable of supporting a range of agricultural operations in the future, such as row crops, orchards, egg-laying hens and mixed livestock grazing. This property is a key piece of the puzzle in our growing network of protected agricultural lands.

 

The Duncan Ranch (pictured in the uplands here) will contribute to more than 11,000 acres of contiguous MALT-protected land — a critical landscape for the health of our local economy, community wellbeing and ecological resilience.

Having started my role as executive director in late August, it’s been an incredible start to my time with MALT. In early September, our team completed an easement on the 723-acre McDowell Ranch. And our office continues to buzz with energy, with more than five additional easements in the works totaling more than 3,000 acres.

The Duncan Ranch builds upon more than 11,000 acres of contiguous MALT-protected land. Like pieces of a great puzzle — all building upon the collective whole — we are close to securing a permanently protected corridor extending from the county border to the edge of Tomales Bay. Our legacy of protected ranch and farmland will soon extend across more than 56,000 acres comprising 93 easements.

These large areas of protected land are vital, not just for our regional food economy, but for all life moving within, across and past their boundaries. Protecting connected landscapes allows plants and animals to access suitable habitat as the climate changes, to migrate to find what they need, and to adapt to future environmental conditions. There has never been a more important time for land preservation and stewardship to thrive — work we couldn’t complete without the generous support of Marin County and our committed donors.

As I began to visit ranches earlier this month, I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude, for the diligence of MALT’s staff and board, our incredible community partners, the support of Marin County residents, and for the generations of land stewards who have tended this land since time immemorial. I’m proud to be a part of MALT’s more than 40-year legacy of land conservation — a mission that I am so deeply thankful to now help shepherd.

Stay tuned for more good news from MALT in the coming months and thank you for your continued interest and support. 

We couldn’t do it without you.

About the Author:

Lily Verdone joined MALT in August of 2022 as the organizations executive director, the first woman to officially lead the organization since its founding. Prior to joining MALT, Lily was senior director of Coastal Quest, an Oakland-based nonprofit building climate resilience for vulnerable coastal communities. In her more than 20-year career, she has led many initiatives to protect agricultural land, open space and fresh water — working within global organizations such as The Nature Conservancy as well as small, community-based land trusts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a masters of science in biology from Sonoma State University.

The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) acknowledges that the land in our working area has been home to many Native communities since time immemorial — including the unceded ancestral lands of the Coast Miwok. This community has survived centuries of oppression, displacement and outright genocide, and we honor their ancestors: past, present, and emerging.


Expansive view of McDowell Ranch near Tomales, Marin County

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