Frequently Asked Questions about the Marin RCD
What does the Marin Resource Conservation District do for land managers in its district?
The MRCD applies for and implements environmental projects on ranches in its district. It also works with non-ranchers in the San Geronimo Valley and other urban areas to assist them with stream restoration projects; however most of its efforts are directed toward Marin County ranches, as the environmental impact of their efforts is maximized in this large area.
See Our Impact page for more details.
Are Marin ranchers rich?
The average ranch income is $56,419.00 per year. Most ranching families rely on off farm income to supplement their ranch income and some ranchers offer agritourism or diversified products to fill out their income.
Why do ranchers need help in caring for their land?
The average environmental project cost is $95,862. Environmental projects are expensive and require complicated designs and permits to implement. There are several funding sources and partners to ensure the work gets done. Although these projects are requested by land managers, they do not benefit them financially. In a few cases, land managers are provided reimbursements for contractor expenses; however, it is not the norm and, in most cases, the MRCD pays approved contractors directly for the work of building fences, planting trees and building ranch structures that ensure clean water.
Public money is used as cost share contributions in these projects because they have a clear public benefit. We all benefit from clean water, clear air, healthy soils, diverse coastal prairies and lush wildlife habitat.
How many ranchers are on the MRCD Board? Why ranchers?
There are 4 ranchers on the MRCD Board and one oyster grower. The ranchers on the board come from different families and different locations in the ranching community, representing the diversity of land managers. Two have dairies, one has a beef ranch and the other is a vegetable grower. The aquaculture board member has a stake in clean water run-off from the ranching valleys.
Our board members are long time members of the community who have provided good examples of correct stewardship. They are exemplary community leaders.
How many of the MRCD Board members have received environmental projects through the MRCD? How does this help the environment?
All four of the ranchers on the Board have implemented environmental projects on their ranches. These include creek restoration, clean water projects, tree planting projects, carbon farm plans and carbon sequestration projects. The funding for these projects has come from a variety of sources; federal, state and county funding as well as their own money. All projects have a cost share component. All projects require land manager support and maintenance.
These projects help the environment by improving the condition of the soil, air plant, insect and animal habitat on working lands.
Do MRCD Board members approve environmental projects for their families?
The ranching community is a small community of approximately 343 farming operations and many families are related. Many of these families go back 5 or more generations. In the case where a project comes up for approval in a board meeting that involves a member of a board member’s family or him or herself, that board member recuses him or herself.
How are land managers chosen for projects?
Land managers get a postcard telling them about the project parameters. Then they apply. The staff makes sure the project fits with the funder’s goals. The ranch is visited by an expert Technical Advisory Committee. The Technical Advisory Committee ranks the projects in terms of their environmental value. There are 20 or 30 items to consider. The Technical Advisory Committee recommends which projects to fund. The staff works up the costs and presents the project to the Board. Each project is presented to the MRCD Board for approvals in several public meetings before a project is approved for construction.
See our How We Operate page for more details.
Who supports these projects on ranches?
Ultimately, all of the projects receive the support of the American people. Funding is approved by Congress and the California State legislature, administered by the Federal and State Government, enhanced through action by the County Board of Supervisors, applied for in a competitive process by the MRCD staff, and approved through the MRCD Board. Land manager support is shown by the many land managers who have either had projects or are waiting patiently for projects.
Does Marin RCD collaborate with the local Tribe?
Marin RCD is working to connect interested land managers and partners in our District with staff and citizens from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria to collaborate on ecological restoration projects. Marin RCD is currently working with partners, local land managers, and tribal staff and citizens to co-design riparian restoration projects on four Marin ranches to meet ecological and cultural goals. Marin RCD hopes to continue to expand the scope of this collaborative work.
How does the non-ranching community contribute to the work of the MRCD?
The non-ranching community has been helpful in directing the MRCD broadly to reach chosen environmental goals. Some examples of plans the MRCD follows are found in the Tomales Bay Watershed Stewardship Plan and the County of Marin’s Climate Action Plan. The MRCD uses these documents to direct its grant applications and overall work to respond to community needs. It also meets with the ranchers in specific watersheds to include their environmental goals.
Why does the Board spend money on Carbon Farm Plans?
Carbon Farm Plans are tailor made for each ranch to guide the landowner toward practices on their land which improve their carbon footprint. Working lands offer a way to sequester carbon through improved tree cover, pasture health and smart ranching and dairy practices. The Plan gives the landowner a road map toward increased carbon sequestration and biodiversity; a win-win for all who depend on a healthy world.
See our Carbon Farm Program page for more details.