Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) Doubles Down on its Drought Resilience and Water Security Initiative
July 27, 2021
POINT REYES STATION, Calif. — In response to the historic drought in California, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), a pioneering farmland trust in California’s Marin County, is allocating an additional $250,000 to its emergency Drought Resilience & Water Security (DRAWS) initiative — raising to $500,000 the amount available to help Marin County farmers and ranchers address critical water shortages.
“Marin County organizations and agencies are taking collective action to help local agriculturalists navigate this historic drought, which is impacting all life in the state, threatening endangered species and creating economic pressure on food systems,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., CEO of MALT. “As part of MALT’s commitment to stewarding agricultural land in harmony with our natural ecosystems, we have doubled our investment in long-term drought resilience and water security projects.”
To date, 28 DRAWS projects have been approved, earmarking $345,000 of the total amount available. Of those, 17 projects — $191,000 worth — have been finalized and implementation has commenced. Both MALT-protected and other farms and ranches in the region are benefitting from DRAWS funding.
DRAWS Emergency Initiative Offers Immediate Drought Help
DRAWS, an extension of MALT’s Stewardship Assistance Program (SAP), awards grants that provide farmers and ranchers with technical assistance and funding resources to design and implement water infrastructure projects that increase resilience in their agricultural operations. The DRAWS program provides up to 85 percent of funding, with a per-project cap of $15,000.
“The response to DRAWS has been substantial, highlighting the demand that farmers and ranchers have for increasing water storage, distribution and ultimately long-term water security,” said Eric Rubenstahl, MALT’s stewardship program manager. “Many ranchers and farmers are saying that DRAWS is playing a significant role in securing water resources, an instrumental component for economic sustainability and agricultural viability in these unprecedented drought conditions.”
DRAWS projects vary depending on the type of agricultural operation, existing water infrastructure and the needs of the applicant. Nearly all projects increase water storage, helping ranchers and farmers capture more water during the wet season and use it with greater efficiency during the dry season. The initiative also supports farmers and ranchers as they improve existing water sources, such as natural springs; enhance water distribution; and build more resilient and sustainable water infrastructure.
The 28 projects approved to date fall into three general categories:
- Water extension (13 projects): Expanding existing water infrastructure through new piping, water tanks for storage and new water troughs.
- Repairing or securing water sources (13 projects): Modernizing water springs that have fallen offline and tying them into existing water systems, installing tanks for truck-delivered water drop-offs or setting up mobile water trailers.
- Rain catchment systems (2 projects): Installing roof gutters on barns and other structures to capture water from rainfall or fog drip. The gutters are plumbed to a collection system, often a tank, that then distributes water throughout the ranch for livestock use.
Water Security Requires Many Participants and Approaches
“The DRAWS initiative provides one puzzle piece of a rich, complex and collective response to the serious water security issues Marin County must address,” said Rubenstahl.
As a non-profit organization, MALT is able to move swiftly to approve projects and make immediate grants—but its total funding power is limited to smaller-scale projects.
For longer-term and larger-scale projects, ranchers and farmers can turn to governmental organizations such as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides agricultural producers with financial and technical assistance to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.
Other local organizations working in conjunction with MALT and other efforts include the Marin Resource Conservation District (MRCD), with programs such as Conserving Our Watersheds (COW); the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE)/Marin County, for science-based resources that include webinars, seminars and other informational programs; and Point Blue Conservation Science’s Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW) conservation education and plant restoration program.
Learn more about the MALT DRAWS initiative.
Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a nonprofit organization created in 1980 to permanently preserve Marin County farmland and establish Marin County as a thriving agricultural community in a healthy and diverse natural environment. 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 more than 54,000 acres. To learn more about MALT, visit malt.org.
For Further Information Contact:
Jennifer Carlin, Director of Advancement, MALT, (415) 572-9101, firstname.lastname@example.org
Colleen Martell, Martell Communications for MALT, (408) 832-0147, email@example.com