County of Marin - News Releases - Millerton Creek Ranch

For Immediate Release
September 18, 2018

Ag Easement Secured at Tomales Bay Property

County awards grant to Marin Agricultural Land Trust to preserve ranchland

San Rafael, CA – For more than 100 years, a ranch on the east shore of Tomales Bay was a working dairy and cattle and sheep pasture. The property was destined to be sold to a developer four years ago, but the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) stepped in as a temporary buyer. Now, the County of Marin is partnering with MALT to preserve the Millerton Creek Ranch as a permanently protected farmland.

A cow grazes on pasture at Millerton Creek Ranch.Millerton Creek Ranch will be preserved for cattle grazing and raising hens. (Photo by Paige Green)
On September 18, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a grant agreement worth $1,717,400 to help MALT purchase an agricultural conservation easement over the 864-acre property. An agricultural-minded group called Millerton Creek Ranch LLC will become the property owner as part of a “buy-protect-sell” project and use the property for cattle grazing and raising hens. The County’s portion of the easement funding comes from the Measure A Farmland Preservation Program, the result of a quarter-cent sales tax on purchases made in Marin.

Orchestrated by MALT, the easement deal will add to a large block of MALT-protected ranches and is adjacent to California State Parks land. Part of the Millerton Creek Ranch – 176 acres, including Millerton Gulch Creek – is classified as essential to regional conservation goals created by the Conservation Lands Network.

“This is a unique and exciting opportunity for the County in several ways,” said Craig Richardson, Parks’ Senior Open Space Planner. “We are leveraging Measure A dollars to not only preserve over 800 acres of agricultural land, we are also preserving essential habitat for salmon and part of a critical habitat linkage stretching down the Sonoma/Marin coast, and inland to Mount St. Helena. At the same time, Measure A is helping to complete a long-term goal of preserving the Millerton Creek watershed by awarding this grant to MALT and making the execution of their buy-protect-sell strategy for this property possible.”

Thanks to MALT’s presence and efforts in the county, the Marin County Parks Measure A Farmland Preservation Program has racked up an impressive track record of helping to conserve Marin’s farmland. Just in the past year, it made similar Measure A agreements to save the McIsaac Ranch, the Taylor Ranch and the Furlong Ranch, all in rural West Marin. All the properties have deep family roots in farming and ranching but were close to being sold for non-agricultural use.

“With its rich agricultural history and diverse natural resources, MALT is extraordinarily proud to protect Millerton Creek Ranch,” said MALT Executive Director Jamison Watts. “This 864-acre ranch joins a 10,433-acre block of MALT-protected farmland on the east shore of Tomales Bay, safeguarding critical habitat and ensuring this land will be used for agriculture forever.”

The Measure A Farmland Preservation Program is tied to a 2012 quarter-cent sales tax approved by Marin voters and is dedicated to protecting and preserving working farms and ranches at risk of subdivision and development.

An agricultural conservation easement does not convey ownership of a property. Instead, it conveys certain rights to the easement holder and/or obligations to the landowner. In this case the easement will require that economically viable agriculture at Millerton Creek Ranch will continue while balancing protection of the natural resources of the property, in perpetuity.

All told, more than $10 million of Measure A Farmland Preservation funds have been matched by MALT to preserve just over 5,000 acres of local agricultural lands since the tax measure was approved in 2012. With the addition of Millerton Creek Ranch’s 864 acres, the property protected in West Marin will be up to over 6,000 acres, or 9.5 square miles.

A quarter-cent retail transactions and use tax, Measure A 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