Spring Valley Ranch: 1,179 Acres in Marin Protected for Agriculture and Biodiversity
December 5, 2023
A giant piece of the puzzle in our growing network of protected land will soon be conserved. Today we secured key funding for the protection of the 1,179-acre Spring Valley Ranch in West Marin. The Marin County Board of Supervisors has approved grant funding from the county’s Farmland Preservation Program, also known as Measure A, to support the acquisition of an agricultural conservation easement on this spectacular ranch.
At the same meeting, the Board of Supervisors also approved Measure A funding for the conservation of the 592-acre Bivista Ridge Ranch near Marshall. Once we finalize the protections of these two ranches, MALT and our partners will have invested more than $100 million in Marin County agricultural land conservation since our founding in 1980—a historic milestone made possible through the commitment of our generous donors, our partners, and Marin County voters.
One of the Bay Area’s Largest Conservation Areas
It’s difficult to comprehend the size of Spring Valley Ranch. Standing at its center, south of the Soulajule Reservoir, the entire viewshed comprises the ranch’s verdant grasslands, Douglas fir forests, and seasonal creeks. You can walk in any direction for hours without meeting a fenceline, and even that is only a boundary to more expansive rangelands.
Safeguarding large ranches like this, one of the largest in the county, is essential for our efforts to preserve Marin’s agricultural economy and improve the well-being of our local ecosystem. The conservation of this ranch will build upon a 13,895-acre, contiguous block of protected agricultural land, one of the largest areas of conserved land in the Bay Area.
More than 200 acres of this ranch lie within the Critical Habitat Linkage identified by the Conservation Lands Network, an area of vital importance for the movement of plants and animals across the region. With climate change adding stress on our ecosystems, conserving these habitat linkages is increasingly important to the wildlife corridors that support bobcats, fox, deer, mountain lions, and many other wildlife species as they graze, hunt, and mate.
Vitality for Local Agriculture
Expansive ranches like this are also vital for local agriculturalists. Large areas of land allow ranchers to rotate their herds among pastures, preventing overgrazing, and ensure animals have access to fresh, nutrient-rich forage. Rotational grazing not only promotes the health of the livestock but also contributes to the overall health of the landscape.
Large tracts of land also support local ranchers in their ability to navigate the unpredictability of weather patterns and changing climatic conditions. In times of drought or inclement weather, having extensive pastures enables the strategic movement of livestock, mitigating the impact on both the animals and the land.
Conserving Spring Valley Ranch with an agricultural conservation easement, a voluntary agreement between MALT and the current land owners, ensures this land will remain in agricultural production in perpetuity. We are securing the future of agriculture and the ability for generations of Marin County land stewards to tend this land, providing nourishment for local residents.
Partners Make it Possible
This $3.5 million easement will be paid for from two sources: half from private donations to MALT and half from Marin County’s Farmland Preservation Program, funded by Measure A (mentioned above). This one-quarter of one-percent sales tax was renewed by voters in 2022 to preserve Marin County parks, open spaces, and agricultural land.
Our protection of this ranch would not be possible without the ability to match private donations with this public funding. Since its passage in 2012, Measure A has allowed Marin County to invest $16.4 million towards farmland preservation. This financial support has empowered MALT to conserve 13 farms and ranches covering a total of 7,953 acres.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to lead the collective investment of $100 million in Marin County agricultural land conservation. It’s a historic moment for our movement and we are forever grateful for the support of our donor community and the dedication of Marin County voters.
Stay tuned as we complete the final steps to permanently conserve this ranch.
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 and their traditional territories. Learn more here.