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California Cheese Trail

 

Dolcini-Beltrametti Ranch, protected by MALT in January 2017

Latest MALT-Protected Ranch Creates Largest Contiguous Block of Permanently Protected Agricultural Land in Marin 

Once Slated for 32 Homes, Dolcini-Beltrametti Ranch Protected as Farmland Forever; Dolcini family will use it to expand organic dairy 

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2017
Contact: Robin Livingston, (415) 663-1158 ext. 323, rlivingston@malt.org

Pt. Reyes Station, Calif. – Marin Agricultural Land Trust announced today the protection of the 326-acre Dolcini-Beltrametti Ranch in Hicks Valley, where Point Reyes-Petaluma Road meets Novato Boulevard. The Ranch links a swath of 22,897 acres of protected land, creating the largest contiguous block of protected agricultural land in Marin, stretching between Nicasio and Novato, from San Geronimo Valley to Chileno Valley and West Petaluma. 

The Dolcinis will incorporate the ranch into the family’s neighboring organic jersey dairy to meet the rising demand for locally-produced organic milk.

This ranch’s future has long been contested. In the 1950s, the Beltrametti family sold the dairy ranch. Thirty-two homes were proposed for the site in the early 1970s, a plan staunchly opposed by members of the Dolcini family who have farmed in this part of Marin for generations. In 2016 the property came full-circle when the Dolcinis bought it, marking one of the few times in recent history in West Marin that a farm or ranch has returned to the hands of ranchers after being held by a nonagricultural owner.

The family approached MALT to permanently protect the ranch for agriculture and secure its future once and for all.

“The Dolcini family appreciates the opportunity to incorporate the former Beltrametti Dairy into our current operation,” said a spokesperson for the family. “It took a combination of a cooperative seller, the ability of a local agricultural lender to act quickly, and MALT being able to purchase a conservation easement for this to occur.” 

With the land now protected for farming, the Dolcinis plan to grow more of their own feed and provide more grazing pasture for their animals, enhancing their business, Dolcini Jersey Dairy (a Clover Organic dairy). The demand is there: According to the most recent Marin County Crop Report, organic milk is the county’s leading agricultural product and has led gains in Marin’s agricultural economy over the last two years. Organic certification requires that animals spend the majority of the year on pasture, which has increased demand for suitable ranchland in Marin.

Protecting Dolcini-Beltrametti Ranch will connect two large areas of MALT-protected ranches: eight ranches to the south and east, toward Novato and 18 ranches to the north and west, toward Petaluma and up Chileno Valley. This connected acreage secures habitat for wildlife, a critical mass of farms necessary to support needed agricultural services, local food production and our scenic working landscape.

“The Dolcini-Beltrametti Ranch is exactly the kind of project we love at MALT,” adds Jamison Watts, MALT Executive Director. “It meets our mission of protecting family farms and small producers that make up the backbone of Marin’s sustainable farm and ranch economy. It also adds to a large contiguous block of land that provides important habitat connectivity for common and endangered plants and wildlife.”

The $1.66 million easement acquisition was funded by gifts to MALT from private donors and a matching grant from the Marin County Farmland Preservation Program. It is the fifth ranch protected by MALT with funds from this county program.

“This is yet another major victory for the Measure A program and for Marin County voters,” said Carl Somers, Chief of Planning and Acquisition for Marin County Parks, which administers the program. “Dolcini-Beltrametti Ranch was a missing puzzle piece tying together over 22,800 acres of contiguous protected agricultural lands in West Marin – a necklace of 26 family farms, strung from Chileno Valley to San Geronimo Valley, that will be underwriting sustainable livelihoods and providing homes and migration corridors for native California wildlife forever.”

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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, which totals nearly 49,000 acres on 79 family farms and ranches.

About the Marin County Measure A (Ordinance 3586) Farmland Preservation Program: Farmland Preservation Program: Marin County voters widely approved Measure A, a quarter-cent sales tax, in 2012. Roughly $2 million per year is set aside through Measure A to support the Marin County Farmland Preservation Program, a grant program to preserve agricultural land in Marin. Thus far, program funds have supported the purchase of MALT conservation easements on five ranches, totaling 1,956 acres of farmland. For more information, visit http://www.marincountyparks.org/depts/pk/about-us/main/measurea.