MALT Joins Forces to Preserve Historic Barboni Ranch
Public agencies, foundations and donors to MALT campaign raise $3.6 million to save ranch
February 1, 2013
Pt. Reyes Station, Calif.: Today Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) announced that it helped protect a large Marin County ranch. The agreement between the Barboni family, MALT and a unique coalition of partners was four years in the making. With its completion, 1,200 acres of productive agricultural land and diverse natural resources will be preserved forever.
“I see this as a way to conserve the land, keep it open and preserve a way of life,” said Bill Barboni II, a fourth-generation rancher, who grew up on the ranch with his brother Charlie and three sisters, Stephanie, Bonnie and Julie.
Barboni Ranch occupies a large swath of Hicks Valley, a land of wide pastures, rolling hills and dense oak woodlands. The Barboni family used to operate a dairy on the property and today Bill Barboni II raises beef cattle and sheep. He sells grassfed and organic meat under the Hicks Valley Cattle Co. brand. The land is also home to badgers, river otters, mountain lions, the endangered California red-legged frog, and a great variety of birds including Northern spotted and burrowing owls.
Bill’s parents, Bill and Rosemarie, who live on the ranch along with three of their children, were facing an uncertain future. The MALT easements will enable Bill to continue on with ranching and provide funding to assist the rest of the family with their needs. The elder Barbonis could have sold a portion of the ranch, but that would have opened the door to residential development and the end to a way of life practiced by the family for decades. Marin County would also lose a link to its agricultural past and the many environmental benefits the ranch provides to the region at large.
“Barboni Ranch is not only one of the larger ranches in Marin County, it’s one of the most ecologically diverse,” said MALT Executive Director Jamison Watts. “The Barboni family faced a classic predicament. A large family, some who ranch some who do not, needed to provide for all its members but did not want to lose the ranch in the process. With the successful completion of this deal everybody wins, the Barboni family, local agriculture and the environment, and Marin County residents at large.”
Protecting the ranch was a complicated and lengthy process because of the number of funders involved and because it actually entailed protecting two parcels, the 746-acre Barboni “Home Ranch” and the 448-acre Bassi Ranch.
Of the $3,686,000 purchase price for the easements, $1,000,000 came from The State Coastal Conservancy, $600,000 came from The Wildlife Conservation Board and $714,000 came from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) and Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM). The Wildlife Conservation Board’s funds were granted specifically to protect property’s diverse oak woodlands. Additional funding of $816,000 from Caltrans, SCTA and TAM permanently protects and provides for long term management of a 204-acre portion of the ranch as dispersal habitat for the endangered California red-legged frog, mitigating impacts from the Marin-Sonoma “Narrows” project on Highway 101.
The remaining $1,372,000 was raised through generous donors, including the 11th Hour Project, to Farmland Forever: Campaign to Honor Executive Director Bob Berner, who retired at the end of last year. The campaign raised $2.2 million to protect three at-risk farms, including Barboni Ranch.
About MALT: Marin Agricultural Land Trust is a member-supported nonprofit organization created in 1980 to permanently preserve Marin County farmland. Some of the Bay Area’s most highly acclaimed dairy and meat products and organic crops are produced on farmland protected by MALT conservation agreements, which total more than 45,000 acres on 71 family farms and ranches. To learn more about MALT, visit www.malt.org.
About The Coastal Conservancy: The Coastal Conservancy is a state agency that works with the people of California to protect and improve the coast and San Francisco Bay. The conservancy has opened more than 70 miles of coast and bay shores to the public and has helped to preserve more than 60,000 acres of wetlands, wildlife, habitat, parks and farmland. For more information about the conservancy, visit www.scc.ca.gov
About The Wildlife Conservation Board: The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) was created by legislation in 1947 to administer a capital outlay program for wildlife conservation and related public recreation. The primary responsibilities of WCB are to select, authorize and allocate funds for the purchase of land and waters suitable for recreation purposes and the preservation, protection and restoration of wildlife habitat. For more information about WCB, visit www.wcb.ca.gov
About Caltrans: The California Department of Transportation is a state agency that manages more than 50,000 miles of California’s highway and freeway lanes. The Caltrans mission is to improve mobility across California, but to also be good stewards of state resources by preserving and enhancing California’s assets. For more information about Caltrans, visit www.dot.ca.gov