County of Marin - News Releases - Ranch Preservation

For Immediate Release
December 05, 2017

Grant Helps Preserve Another West Marin Ranch

Contribution to MALT purchase prevents 609 acres from development

San Rafael, CA – The Furlong family has been ranching on the same Marshall property for more than 60 years, and now Marin County Parks is teaming with the nonprofit Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) to assure that the 609-acre ranch remains in agricultural production.

A view of Furlong Ranch, with cattle grazing on the left and a barn on the right.Furlong Ranch is a few miles north of Point Reyes Station.
At its December 5 meeting, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a grant agreement worth $1,332,650 to help MALT purchase an agricultural conservation easement over Furlong Ranch. The County funds will come from the Measure A Farmland Preservation Program, which is dedicated to protecting and preserving working farms and ranches at risk of subdivision and development.

“The transaction basically means the family that is farming the land stays and they are retiring the rights to use the property for anything other than agriculture,” said Craig Richardson, Marin County Parks Senior Open Space Planner. “The Farmland Preservation Program is a cornerstone of Measure A. With these funds, we’re doing what we can to maintain family farms, boost our ag economy and preserve open land.”

The appraised fair market value of the Furlong easement was $2,619,000. The County grant covers half the acquisition cost, including half of the administrative costs, and MALT is contributing the balance.

The property, situated off Highway 1 overlooking Tomales Bay, is used for commercial cattle and sheep grazing. It has been in the Furlong family since 1956 and is owned by two trusts established to support living expenses for the family’s matriarch, who lives in an assisted living home. The County’s grant for the easement prevents the family from having to sell all or part of the ranch to pay for her care. If the land were sold for non-agricultural use, it is unlikely that it would be available to an agriculturally minded buyer in the future. The Furlong property is adjacent to property that was recently taken out of agricultural use.

“Every ranch protected is one more step toward a permanent, sustainable agricultural community in Marin,” said Jamison Watts, Executive Director of Marin Agricultural Land Trust. “Furlong Ranch will continue to produce food and provide benefit to our water, our wildlife and our farming community. I’m proud to protect the land that the Furlong family has taken such pride in owning and stewarding.”

The Farmland Preservation Program, established in 2014, protects and permanently preserves Marin farms and ranches for agricultural use by providing funding to qualified organizations for the acquisition of perpetual agricultural conservation easements. These easement transactions involve negotiations between willing landowners and qualified nonprofits. Previous matching grants from the program were used to preserve the Murphy Family Fallon and Thacher ranches near Tomales, the Gallagher North Bend and Martinelli ranches near Point Reyes Station, the Dolcini Ranch west of Novato, the Jacobsen Ranch southwest of Petaluma, and the Evans-Giacomini Ranch north of Nicasio.

All told, $7,312,766 of Measure A Farmland Preservation funds have been matched with MALT’s $8,525,800 to preserve 4,167 acres of agricultural lands since the tax measure was approved by countywide voters in 2012. The quarter-cent retail transactions and use tax not only is intended for farmland preservation but also for care of Marin’s existing parks and open spaces and to support regional community parks projects and programs. 


Craig Richardson
Senior Open Space Planner
Marin County Parks

Marin Civic Center
Suite 260
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7057
Email: Craig Richardson
Marin County Parks website