Millerton Creek Ranch’s Dedication to Stewarding the Land

May 13, 2021

Home to beef cattle and flocks of pasture-raised hens, the 862 windswept acres of Millerton Creek Ranch sit just east of Highway 1 between Point Reyes Station and Marshall. Steelhead and coho salmon have historically traveled from Tomales Bay up Millerton Creek to spawn, and the creek, which carves steep ravines through the ranch, continues to provide essential wildlife habitat. Protected by MALT in 2018, the ranch is co-owned by Mike Giammona and Andrew Zlot of Double 8 Dairy, and Mike’s son Morgan produces eggs under the Tomales Bay Pastures brand.

Dedicated stewards of the land, Mike and Morgan have worked with MALT to complete a carbon farm plan — a multi-phase, multi-year strategy identifying numerous projects that would help sequester carbon, boost soil and water health and enhance ranch operations. Mike has also participated in MALT’s Stewardship Assistance Program (SAP) and, most recently, MALT’s Drought Resilience & Water Security (DRAWS) initiative to access additional conservation planning expertise and funding that will help him reach his carbon farm plan goals, safeguard Millerton Creek from cattle intrusion and develop sustainable water solutions that will make the ranch more resilient to intensifying drought conditions.

Learn more about Millerton Creek Ranch’s unique history and how MALT saved this at-risk property from subdivision and development.

Stewardship Projects

2019 — Riparian restoration

In collaboration with Point Blue Conservation Science and the California State Coastal Conservancy, 125 willows, 50 shrubs and 80 native wetland sedge grasses were planted to stabilize and shelter the banks of an upland tributary of Millerton Creek and bolster the health of surrounding wetland habitats.

2020 — Cross fencing and water infrastructure

In partnership with the Marin Resource Conservation District and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, 3,300 feet of cross fencing, new water pipelines and new livestock water troughs were installed. These installations will enhance the ranchers’ ability to rotationally graze their livestock, increasing the land’s productivity and capacity to capture and store carbon. 

Another 2,500 feet of fencing was built to protect an eroding gully, allowing the young vegetation to establish strong roots, stabilize the soil and increase soil water retention. Over time, this work will result in more perennial grasses, shrubs and other native species, providing wildlife habitat along the gully’s riparian corridor and sequestering more carbon in the plants and in the soil.

2021 — DRAWS initiative project

“This past summer, in an effort to protect and restore a portion of Millerton Creek that runs through our ranch, we worked with MALT’s Stewardship Assistance Program to install cattle exclusion fencing along the creek banks and develop a natural spring to increase the amount of water available to cattle in grazing pastures. Unfortunately, the drought of the past two years has resulted in a lack of water in the springs, posing a risk to the health of our herd. So, I contacted Eric on MALT’s stewardship team for help. He came up with an immediate technical plan and funding assistance to pipe water from our reservoir to our existing water infrastructure. Without this immediate support, I’m not sure our cattle would have survived. I can’t thank MALT enough for being ready and available to support farmers and ranchers when we need it most — especially when it comes to getting through this drought.” –Mike Giammona of Millerton Creek Ranch

Mike and Morgan next to their new water storage tanks, built as part of their DRAWS project to increase water security on the ranch.

Project Benefits

Prospering Agriculture

Creek bank restoration will help increase soil water retention in adjacent grazing pastures, supporting healthy forage growth. Cross fencing enhances the ranchers’ ability to rotationally graze their livestock, increasing the land’s productivity. Immediate assistance through the DRAWS initiative helps to keep agricultural operations viable through tough drought conditions.

Thriving Community

A healthy riparian zone along the creek will contribute to the scenic and open space values this community enjoys and enhance water quality in the Tomales Bay watershed.

Ecological Health

The willows and buckeyes planted along the Millerton Creek tributary will provide nesting habitat for native birds, along with shade, shelter and food for other wildlife. Fencing will allow for creek restoration and minimize disturbances to the young riparian plants.

Climate Resiliency

The root systems of new plantings will help reduce erosion and the additional vegetation will increase the amount of carbon captured and stored in the soil. Cross fencing enhances the ranchers’ ability to rotationally graze livestock, increasing the capacity to capture and store carbon in the soil.

Learn more about our SAP program and DRAWS initiative and how you can support these efforts!

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