MALT Protects 330 Acres of Pasture, Farmland and Forest Along Lagunitas Creek
May 2, 2016
Pt. Reyes Station, Calif. – Marin Agricultural Land Trust announced today the protection of Gallagher North Bend Ranch near Point Reyes Station. After years of managing the ranch among five co-owners, the Gallagher family made the hard decision to put their 330-acre ranch up for sale, garnering offers from buyers looking to build a luxury estate on the property. Instead, proceeds from the sale of a MALT easement on their ranch will enable brothers Paul and Kevin Gallagher and their families to stay on the land and ensure this productive landscape will remain protected as farmland forever.
Half of the ranch is open grassland, which is used to graze dairy cows. The Gallaghers plan to lease another 18 acres of flat, fertile farmland to local organic farmers for fruit and vegetable crops. The rest of the ranch is a shady forest sheltering the north bend of Lagunitas Creek, which borders the ranch for nearly two miles. The Lagunitas Creek watershed harbors the largest run of endangered coho salmon on the central California coast and is home to dozens of wildlife species, from spotted owls to river otters to mountain lions. Surrounded by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and MALT-protected Black Mountain Ranch, Gallagher North Bend Ranch further connects the protected landscape safeguarding Marin County’s clear air, clean water and outstanding biodiversity.
Marin’s scenic ranches are increasingly targeted for luxury estates, and until it gained MALT protection, the Gallaghers’ ranch—located just a few minutes from Point Reyes Station and bordered by a popular national park—was especially vulnerable. Brothers Kevin and Paul Gallagher inherited half the ranch from their father, sharing ownership with three cousins. In recent years, the family had put the ranch up for sale, as they sought a solution to the burdens of joint ranch ownership.
On the open market, the ranch generated interest from non-agricultural buyers from as far away as New York, but the Gallaghers rejected several offers. “We just wanted to find a way to keep the ranch in the family. There weren’t too many options until MALT came along,” said Paul. MALT purchased an agricultural conservation easement from the family, which guarantees that the ranch will never be subdivided or developed and that it will remain in agricultural use. The brothers put proceeds from the sale of the easement toward purchasing their cousins’ share of the ranch.
“If not for MALT, the ranch would have been sold out of the family,” said Paul, noting that his cousins, Colleen Rogers, Maureen Gallagher and Daniel Gallagher, stood to make more money by selling on the open market, but chose to permanently protect their family’s land with a MALT easement instead. “As good a job as MALT has done, I think it’s amazing that my own family got on board. They could easily have just said no. Our cousins helped us out, and we’re thankful to them.”
MALT was able to protect Gallagher North Bend Ranch with grants from the California State Coastal Conservancy ($475,000), the Marin County Farmland Preservation Program ($519,950), generous donations from MALT supporters, and California’s new Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program ($490,050). The SALC program supports the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through projects—such as agricultural land preservation—that support infill and compact development. Easement funds are provided by the California Climate Investments program.
“Gallagher North Bend Ranch is a valuable contributor to Marin County’s farm economy and provides important habitat for wildlife. If the Gallagher family had sold their ranch to the highest bidder, Marin could have lost all that forever,” said MALT Executive Director Jamison Watts. “Opportunities to protect ranches like this come along once in a generation, and we couldn’t be happier to help a long-time West Marin ranching family stay on their land. We’re grateful to MALT donors and our partner agencies for stepping forward at this pivotal time to protect this special place forever.”
Said Carl Somers, Chief of Planning and Acquisition for Marin County Parks, which administers the Marin County Farmland Preservation Program: “Marin County voters can be proud of the work that their Measure A tax dollars are doing to protect the quality of life and natural resources that make Marin what it is. They should also be thankful for the dedication and commitment to the land shown by multigenerational farm families like the Gallaghers. Without their hard work, there would be nothing for our money to conserve.”
Said Sam Schuchat, Executive Officer of the Coastal Conservancy: “The Gallagher Ranch has been farmed for more than 140 years, and this easement will help keep it productive for many generations to come. The easement will also permanently protect critical habitat for a host of native wildlife that are key to the natural legacy of West Marin.”
Said David Bunn, Director of the California Department of Conservation, which implements the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program on behalf of the state’s Strategic Growth Council: “By prohibiting any future subdivision of the ranch property, the Gallagher agricultural land conservation easement will eliminate more than 2.5 million vehicle miles over the first 30 years of its life, contributing to the state’s greenhouse gas emission-reduction goals. Conserving family farms and open space while providing long-term greenhouse gas reduction benefits is a win-win for all Californians.”
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 48,000 acres on 76 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. For more information, visit http://www.marincountyparks.org/depts/pk/about-us/main/measurea.
About the California State Coastal Conservancy: The Coastal Conservancy is a state agency that works with the people of California to protect and improve the coast and San Francisco Bay. The conservancy has helped open more than 100 miles of coast and bay shores to the public and preserve more than 400,000 acres of wetlands, wildlife habitat, parks, and farmland. For more information about the conservancy, visit http://scc.ca.gov.
About the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program (SALC): The SALC Program supports the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission-reduction goals by making strategic investments to protect agricultural lands from conversion to land uses with more GHG-intensive purposes. The SALC Program is a component of the state’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program, which furthers the purposes of AB 32 (Chapter 488, Statutes 2006) and SB 375 (Chapter 728, Statutes, 2008) by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by supporting compact infill development patterns, encouraging active transportation and transit usage, and protecting agricultural land from sprawl development. Funding for the AHSC Program comes from the California Climate Investments program, a program established to receive Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. For more information about the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, visit http://www.sgc.ca.gov/Grant-Programs/SALC-Program.html.
Contact: Marisa Walker, (415) 663-1158 ext. 311, [email protected]