Efforts to protect Marin’s agricultural lands received a substantial boost with the implementation of a new matching grant program funded by Measure A and administered by Marin County Parks to fund the purchase of perpetual agricultural easements throughout the County. The first grant application was approved by the MarinCounty Board of Supervisors on May 20.
The new grant program, focusing on protecting Marin’s agricultural lands, is funded by Measure A – also known as the Marin Parks, Open Space, and Farmland Preservation Transactions and Use Tax Ordinance of 2012. Roughly $2 million per year is being set aside through Measure A to support the Farmland Preservation Program, and 95 percent of that amount is available to permanently protect Marin’s agricultural lands through the purchase of easements. The other 5 percent is provided to the Marin Resource Conservation District for conservation work on farmland currently under easement.
Grants are available to qualified organizations on a first-come, first-served basis and must be matched by an equal or greater amount of funding from other sources. Qualifying criteria and other program information is available on the Measure A webpage. The Board of Supervisors considers all grant awards after review by staff.
The grant program was developed with assistance from the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT), several state agencies managing similar grant programs, and following review of model programs from across the country. On May 20, MALT Executive Director Jamison Watts was at the Supervisors meeting to celebrate the Board’s 5-0 vote in granting $537,000 to help acquire a perpetual agricultural conservation easement over the 623-acre Thacher Ranch located near Tomales. The property will help to connect a chain of MALT easements stretching from Marshall to the county’s northwest corner.
“The County of Marin has been engaged in protecting Marin’s agricultural lands for more than four decades, and Measure A is providing the fuel for our progress in supportingMarin’s working farms and ranches,” said Linda Dahl, Parks Director and General Manager of the Marin County Open Space District.
Jeff Stump, Easement Program Director at MALT, expressed his appreciation at a recent Board meeting by saying, “This is a product of a lot of work from folks who support Marin’s family farms and ranches. This money will help MALT to accelerate its efforts to protectMarin’s agricultural lands, and will help secure state and federal matching funds in greater amounts.”