Marin moving to add 1,000 to perserve status

Government and a private landowner are working to create a 1,000 acre “agricultural conservation easement” in Lucas Valley, with the intention to transfer it to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust.

Designation of Luiz Ranch property with the an easement is scheduled to be considered by the Marin Open Space District board, which is also the Marin County Board of Supervisors, on Tuesday.

The properties are in a rural, rolling hills area about six miles northwest of downtown San Rafael and about four miles west of Highway 101. They are not far from the privately-owned Skywalker Ranch, directly across Lucas Valley Road from the Lucas Valley Open Space Preserve and just north of the Loma Alta Open Space Preserve.

The county stated that the district owns two adjacent easements over private property registered with Luiz Ranch Inc., which is owned by James and Francesca Hetfield. In late 2016, Luiz Ranch Inc. approached the Open Space District and MALT with a proposal to donate 240 additional acres and connect it to two existing easements held by the Open Space District, which combined account for 760 acres of preserved open space.

The deal, as detailed by the county, would include authorization from the Open Space District Board to retire the development rights for the easement property. The easement would also require that the land be used for economically viable agriculture. Once combined with the other two easements, the requirement would apply to the combined 1,000-acre easement.

Senior Open Space Planner Craig Richardson is quoted in the announcement as saying the transaction will “further MALT’s mission of preserving the agricultural lands of Marin, so we see this three-way partnership as good for all parties.”

If the Open Space District Board the approves the transaction, parks staff would return in January 2018 with a request for the Board of Supervisors to amend and restate the new agricultural conservation easement and transfer it to MALT. There is no fiscal impact to the County as a result of the transaction.

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