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California Cheese Trail

 

Stanley Martinelli Ranch, protected by MALT in April 2017

MALT Protects More Than 600 Acres of Rangeland Adjacent to Golden Gate National Recreation Area 

The Stanley Martinelli Ranch Permanently Protected as Farmland; Cattle Operation to Continue 

For Immediate Release: April 4, 2017
Contact: Molly Miller, (415) 663-1158 ext. 311, mmiller@malt.org

Pt. Reyes Station, Calif.

Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) announced today the protection of the historic 602-acre Stanley Martinelli Ranch. Adjacent to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and overlooking the southeastern shore of Tomales Bay just two miles north of Point Reyes Station, the scenic cattle ranch is coveted real estate. MALT’s acquisition of an agricultural conservation easement on the property protects the land for farming and ranching forever, and brings the total farmland acreage protected by the land trust to 48,738 acres.

The Martinelli family has owned the ranch for more than 120 years and runs a small beef operation with 70-80 head of cattle.  Since Stanley Martinelli passed away in 2014, his widow Elaine Martinelli has managed the ranch with help from her children--Rodney, Mike,  Cheryl and Daryl. Despite financial burdens, the family has resisted pressures to sell the land, but the ranch’s future has been increasingly in question.

 “We were facing a very uncertain financial future,” Elaine explained.  ”We couldn’t get loans because we’re a small family operation and ranching income is so unpredictable from one year to the next.” 

The $1,815,000 MALT easement, funded by gifts to MALT from private donors and a matching grant from the Marin County Farmland Preservation Program, will enable the family to put the ranch back on solid financial footing. A Mandatory Agricultural Use provision in the easement requires that current and future owners continue to actively use the ranch for productive, commercial agriculture, ensuring the land is available to ranchers for generations to come.

 “My family loves this ranch and my son Rodney loves his cows. It’s part of a lifestyle going back generations on both sides of the family,” said Elaine Martinelli, who was raised on a ranch in Nicasio that is also protected by MALT.

“I’m so happy MALT was there when we really needed them,” she said.

The ranch connects federally protected National Park Service land on the east shore of Tomales Bay to the coastal ridges north of Point Reyes Station. The ranch’s mosaic of coastal grasslands and forested uplands connect a vast network of critical habitat that links Tomales Bay to inland portions of Sonoma, Napa and Lake Counties. The ranch contains habitat for mountain lions, bobcats, owls, raptors, waterfowl and geographically-unique plant species, as well as riparian plants and animals in Grand Canyon Creek, which skirts the property line on its way into Tomales Bay.

Dense woodlands and steep grassy slopes covering much of the ranch have retained diverse populations of woody species and native grasses throughout the property, including coast live oaks and California buckeye trees, purple needle grass and blue wild rye.

 “During this time of increasing pressure to sell to estate buyers, not only does the permanent protection of the Stanley Martinelli Ranch secure more land for agriculture strengthening Marin’s farming community and economy, it also links critical inland wildlife habitats to the coastal wetlands,” said MALT Executive Director Jamison Watts.

 “This interconnected system of protected working- and wild-lands allow natural ecological processes like migration and range shifts to continue, despite changing weather patterns that may challenge the survival of some species,” Watts added.

Carl Somers, chief of planning and acquisition for Marin County Parks, said, “By maintaining wildlife habitat, community character, and viability of the agricultural economy, the agricultural preservation of the Stanley Martinelli Ranch is a big win for the residents, wildlife and the agricultural community of Marin.”

“Marin County Parks continues to be extremely proud of the contributions of Measure A money toward the preservation of Marin County farmland at risk of subdivision and development,” Somers said. “Through the administration of this program, Measure A money  is being put to use by helping the working farms and ranches of Marin County to remain viable now and into the future.”