Hicks Mountain Belvedere Ranch: Saving One of Marin County’s Tallest Peaks 

April 16, 2024

Hicks Mountain, one of the tallest peaks in Marin County, will soon be protected with an agricultural conservation easement from the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT). Earlier today, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved $400,000 in grant funding from the Farmland Preservation Grant Program (Measure A) for the conservation of the 344-acre Hicks Mountain Belvedere Ranch (as well as the 903-acre Corda Family Ranch)—we are close to forever safeguarding this iconic mountain. 

You’re likely more familiar with Hicks Mountain than you might realize, its rugged silhouette dominating so much of the West Marin horizon. Encompassing the mountain’s steep east face, Hicks Mountain Belvedere Ranch harbors a diverse array of native plants, impressive redwood trees, and dense chaparral—it’s a sanctuary for a myriad of wildlife, and a working ranch producing food for the community. 

See for yourself:

 

Located along Point Reyes-Petaluma Road adjacent to the Marin French Cheese Company, Hicks Mountain Belvedere Ranch is home to the highest privately-owned peak in all of Marin County.

A Legacy of Agricultural Enterprise 

For more than 100 years, the Corda family has stewarded Hicks Mountain Belvedere Ranch and cultivated a living from the land. Today the Dellingers, part of the larger Corda family, are the land’s stewards—one of the few family farms still operating less than an hour’s drive from San Francisco. 

The Dellingers are most well-known for Hicks Mountain Hens, a pasture-raised egg operation with an honor-system based farmstand just up the road from the Marin French Cheese Company. The business started as Bill Dellinger’s childhood 4H project and has blossomed into a viable enterprise, an easy stop for passing travelers hungry for local foods.

“This opportunity with MALT gives a strong family the chance to protect a great ranch,” shared Angela Dellinger, Bill’s mother and the ranch’s current owner. “My late mother always believed that MALT was going to be the way we could protect our family’s ranches and turns out she was right.”

Through MALT’s agricultural conservation easement, which is a voluntary agreement between the nonprofit and the family, this land will forever remain in agricultural production and be protected from subdivision and development. From the family’s pasture-raised chickens, to brush-grazing goats and leased areas for honey and beef production, the ranch will continue to hum with activity for generations to come. 

A Haven for Wildlife

Hicks Mountain is also well-known in the local conservation community for its incredible range of habitat and wealth of biological diversity. With so much variability in terrain, the mountain offers a tremendous number of microclimates and niches for a host of species. Every inch of the 344-acre ranch is packed with life, a wellspring of ecological abundance. 

Conserving this ranch builds upon a 14,226-acre contiguous block of existing MALT-protected land, collectively one of the largest conservation areas in the entire Bay Area. Large expanses of open spaces like this are essential, not just for biodiversity conservation and climate resilience, but for sustaining a local agricultural economy and the rural way of life for West Marin communities.  

In addition, the ranch is designated as a Priority Conservation Area by the Bay Area Greenprint and as Critical Regional Wildlife Habitat Linkage by the Conservation Lands Network. The conservation of this ranch is essential for the well-being of our regional ecosystems. We’re thrilled to see this landscape forever safeguarded for the benefit of all. 

Click to expand map.

“In a rapidly changing world, the preservation of places like Hicks Mountain Belvedere Ranch is paramount,” said Lily Verdone, MALT’s executive director. “These agricultural landscapes not only help sustain our community’s livelihoods but also nurture the rich natural diversity that defines Marin County.”

Protecting the Hicks Mountain Belvedere Ranch would not be possible without the generous support of MALT’s donors and the commitment of Marin County voters. Funding for the $800,000 easement on Hick Mountain Ranch will come from two sources: half from a grant from the Marin County Farmland Preservation Grant Program (Measure A) which was approved earlier today and half from private donations to MALT. 

Our protection of this ranch would not be possible without the ability to match our private donations with this public funding. Since its passage in 2012, we have applied for Measure A grant funding to conserve 15 farms and ranches totaling more than 9,725 acres. In total, since 1980, MALT and its partners have now invested more than $100 million in Marin County agricultural land conservation. 

“We are profoundly grateful for MALT and this opportunity,” shared Angela Dellinger. “This has been home for our family for more than four generations and, thanks to MALT, it will continue to be so into the future.”

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The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) acknowledges that we work in the unceded ancestral lands of the Coast Miwok people of present-day Marin County. We recognize the centuries of attempted erasure, displacement, and genocide these communities have endured and that many inequities exist to this day. We honor with gratitude the land itself and celebrate the ongoing relationship with the Coast Miwok people on their traditional territories. Find more here.

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