Press Release

Prominent Dairy Protected by Marin Agricultural Land Trust Easement

August 12, 2009

Pt. Reyes Station, Calif. – Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), with financial assistance from the Department of Conservation’s California Farmland Conservancy Program and the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) has purchased an agricultural conservation easement on the Spaletta family’s 772-acre Cypress Lane Ranch.

Prominently located on Point Reyes-Petaluma Road at its intersection with Novato Boulevard, the property becomes part of a greenbelt of protected historic farmland on the road leading to Petaluma. Seventy-five percent of the Spaletta property is grasslands, providing extensive pastures while silage is grown for feed on the southwestern part of the ranch.

Members of the Spaletta family have owned the ranch since 1932. Two of them, Charles Spaletta and his son Tony, currently live on the ranch and run a Grade A Holstein dairy cow operation there, producing fluid milk. The dairy is of one of only 27 remaining in Marin County, down from 100 dairies in the 1970s. The Spaletta Family corporation’s sale of an easement to MALT will allow Charles and Tony, the dairy ranchers, to continue producing milk for the Bay Area.

Located a short commute distance from both Petaluma and central Marin, Cypress Lane Ranch might have been targeted by a developer for estate ranchettes which are in high demand in western Marin County. Under the Marin Agricultural Land Trust conservation easement, the development rights have been extinguished, and the land can never be subdivided; the ranch is permanently protected for agricultural use.

“Protecting the land so this productive dairy can continue operation is an example of how MALT works with ranching families to find a conservation alternative to the sale or development of the land,” said Robert Berner, Executive Director of Marin Agricultural Land Trust.

MALT paid the appraised value of $2,495,000 for the easement. The Department of Conservation and NRCS provided grants to MALT of $831,667 each for the project. The remaining third of the funds was raised from MALT members and supporters.

“The Department of Conservation is pleased to support local efforts to preserve farmland,” said DOC Director Bridgett Luther. “We congratulate both MALT and the Spaletta family on the completion of this project, and encourage other Marin County landowners to consider the agricultural conservation easement option for their properties.”

Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a member-supported, nonprofit organization created in 1980 by a coalition of ranchers and environmentalists to permanently preserve Marin County farmland. Some of the Bay Area’s most highly acclaimed dairy products and organic crops are produced on farmland protected by MALT conservation easements, which total more than 41,500 acres on 64 family farms and ranches. To learn more about Marin’s family farms and the food they produce, visit

The California Farmland Conservancy Program is designed to ensure that the state’s most valuable farmland will not be developed. Begun in 1996, the bond-supported CFCP has provided $59 million in grant funding to permanently shield 40,000 acres of the state’s best and most vulnerable agricultural land from development. For more information about the California Farmland Conservancy Program, visit


Department of Conservation, Public Affairs Office


The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources and Conservation Service provides products and services that enable people to be good stewards of the Nation’s soil, water, and related natural resources on non-Federal lands. With NRCS help, people are better able to conserve, maintain, or improve their natural resources. With technical and financial assistance from USDA, land managers and communities take a comprehensive approach to the use and protection of natural resources in rural, suburban, urban, and developing areas.

CONTACT: ELISABETH PTAK, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, 415-663-1158, ext. 302