Land Trust to Protect Tomales Bay Ranch From Development
Pt. Reyes Station, Calif. – Marin Agricultural Land Trust will protect 609-acre Furlong Ranch in Marshall. The announcement came at today’s Marin County Board of Supervisors meeting, during which Supervisors approved $1,332,650 in funding from the Marin County Farmland Preservation Program toward MALT’s purchase of an agricultural conservation easement on the ranch. The easement ensures that Furlong Ranch will be protected from subdivision and development and will continue to be used for farming and ranching forever.
Situated off Highway 1 overlooking Tomales Bay, this sheep and cattle ranch on two legal parcels was at high risk of being sold for homes. Elderly owner Donna Furlong’s sons Kevin, Greg and Kirk faced putting it on the market to pay for her long-term care. Hoping to hold on to the ranch their parents have owned since 1956, they approached MALT instead.
“We would dearly like to keep the ranch,” said Greg. Under the easement, the Furlong family continues to own the ranch and MALT retires the development rights to it.
The easement, expected to be finalized in early February 2018, will protect the land’s natural resources as well as its agricultural use.
“Every ranch protected is one more step toward a permanent, sustainable agricultural community in Marin,” said Jamison Watts, Executive Director of Marin Agricultural Land Trust. “Furlong Ranch will continue to produce food and provide benefit to our water, our wildlife and our farming community. I’m proud to protect the land that the Furlong family has taken such pride in owning and stewarding.”
Furlong Ranch is ecologically diverse and part of an important wildlife corridor stretching from the Marin-Sonoma coast to Mount St. Helena and beyond. Kevin Furlong, like his late father, has worked hard to improve the ranch for both livestock and wildlife, adding fencing, developing springs and protecting the section of Millerton Gulch Creek that runs through it.
Protecting this ranch is a strategic move for MALT, which works on a landscape level to preserve and connect large blocks of farmland and link them to other protected lands. Furlong Ranch borders state park land to the west and adds 609 acres to an existing 8,562-acre block of MALT-protected land at the southeast end of Tomales Bay.
The ranch is the last piece of land in the Millerton Gulch Creek watershed to be protected, either by MALT or California State Parks. MALT is planning a major stream restoration project with the goal of bringing steelhead trout back to the watershed. “This is the first time MALT has had the opportunity to protect and work to restore an entire watershed,” said Jeff Stump, MALT Director of Conservation. “We hope to remove a fish barrier on a downstream section of Millerton Gulch Creek, on an adjacent ranch MALT owns, and provide fish access to healthy spawning habitat on the Furlong Ranch. It’s a great example of how protecting farmland allows us to achieve larger conservation goals.”
The purchase of this easement will be made possible with funds from the Gary Giacomini Land Fund at Marin Agricultural Land Trust, established with significant support from the Buck Family Fund of the Marin Community Foundation. This and other private contributions will allow MALT to access matching public funding from Marin’s taxpayer-funded Farmland Preservation Program, created when Marin voters passed Measure A in 2012. The stream restoration project will be funded separately.
“The Farmland Preservation Program is a cornerstone of Measure A. With those funds, we’re doing what we can to maintain family farms, boost our ag economy and preserve land,” said Craig Richardson, Senior Open Space Planner for Marin County Parks.
About MALT: Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a member-supported nonprofit organization created in 1980 to permanently preserve Marin County farmland. Some of the Bay Area’s most highly acclaimed dairy and meat products and organic crops are produced on farmland protected by MALT, which totals nearly 50,000 acres on 81 family farms and ranches. To learn more about MALT, visit www.malt.org.
About the Marin County Measure A (Ordinance 3586) Farmland Preservation Program: Marin County voters widely approved Measure A, a quarter-cent sales tax, in 2012. Roughly $2 million per year is set aside through Measure A to support the Marin County Farmland Preservation Program, a grant program to preserve agricultural land in Marin. Thus far, program funds have supported the purchase of MALT conservation easements on eight ranches, totaling 4,167 acres of farmland. For more information, visit http://www.marincountyparks.org/depts/pk/about-us/main/measurea.
Contact: Jeff Stump, (415) 663-1158 ext. 303, firstname.lastname@example.org
High-resolution photos available upon request.