Established on May 20th, 1959, the Marin Resource Conservation District (MRCD) is a service organization that provides private and public land stewards with information, technical assistance, and funding to implement conservation projects in Marin County. Our programs are voluntary and innovative, relying on local history to guide our decisions about the future of our working landscapes. MRCD is governed by a board of five agricultural producers and run by a small staff.
Special District Status and Public Accountability
RCDs are established under California law (Division 9 of CA Public Resource Code) to be locally governed with independent boards of directors. As trusted stewards of public and private funds, RCDs are subject to transparency and accountability laws that require public meetings, open records, annual audits, and financial reporting. See more below.
Annual compensation for RCD Director and Employee positions can be found on the Government Compensation in California website.
Explore below to learn more about the tenets of the Marin RCD operation, including finances, project selection process, and more.
Role of Marin RCD Board
The board is responsible for ensuring that the MRCD remains focused on its mission, its strategic plan, governance, compliance, project review and approvals, oversight of financial plans and budgets, and operations. As such, the Directors ensure that the provisions of Division 9 of the California Public Resources Code are being followed in addition to compliance with the MRCD Conflict of Interest Policy. Directors must regularly attend the District Board meetings, participate in strategic planning, establish policies, budgets and controls, serve as a spokesperson for the MRCD and represent the needs and values of the District’s constituents to the MRCD. The Board meets monthly, and conducts its business in public, in compliance with the Public Meeting Act, commonly known as the Brown Act, of 1953. The act established the rule that all meetings of a legislative body of a local agency should be open to the public, subject to specific exceptions.
The MRCD Board has five voting Directors who are elected for four-year terms by voters who reside in their District. To ensure that MRCD retains experienced directors at all times, some director terms will expire in even numbered years and some in odd numbered years. Under certain circumstances, such as a Board position becoming vacant midterm, the Board of Supervisors can appoint a replacement and it is the intent of the Legislation that they will only appoint a Director with a “demonstrated interest in soil and water conservation.” The Directors are not compensated for their service.
The current board members are landowners, ranchers, farmers, and oyster producers with extensive experience in agriculture, food production, and conservation which enables them to make informed decisions on the District’s behalf.
To qualify to serve as an RCD director, candidates must live within the district and be landowners, or if they are not landowners, they must have served as an Associate Director for two years. The position of Associate Director was created to allow qualified individuals to take an active role in the operation of a district without being a voting member of the board.
Marin RCD Board Conflict of Interest
As elected or appointed officials of a public agency, directors must avoid conflicts of interest and are bound by a district’s Conflict of Interest Policy. They are not prohibited from participating in RCD’s projects and may apply for grants along with their peers through a competitive application process, although they cannot vote on the project in question. Projects are typically part of a larger effort to accomplish a specific environmental goal for public benefit, such as carbon sequestration to address climate change impacts, or the restoration of a watershed to improve water quality or to improve habitat for a particular species, such as Coho Salmon. Potential projects are recommended in the monthly public meetings by Technical Advisory Committees who are assigned to evaluate projects and rank them according to selection criteria which relate the merits of each project to the purpose of the grant. For more information go to Project Selection below.
Monthly Public Meetings
Board Meetings are generally held the second Wednesday of each month at 9:00am unless otherwise noticed. Anyone from the public is welcome. Find access information, and Board Meeting minutes and Agendas on our “Board Meeting and Agendas” page at this link.
Approximately 90% of MRCD’s $1.2M budget comes from grants while roughly 10% is provided by the County of Marin. Half of our budget is dedicated to on-the-ground construction projects. The MRCD also receives funds from local foundations and other private sources.
MRCD has teamed up with GrizzlyCorps Climate Fellowship to promote climate smart agriculture in Marin while bolstering the next generation of climate leaders. GrizzlyCorps is an AmeriCorps program, which covers about half of the costs of supporting our fellow. We want to keep the partnership going, so we are asking for your support to fund our GrizzlyCorps Fellow and build climate resilience in Marin. If you are interested in donating, please follow this link, or contact Marin RCD.
Sita Mulligan, a dear friend of the Marin RCD, bequeathed her remaining paintings and all of the rights of reproduction. The paintings are on display at the Marin RCD’s office. Prints are for sale to benefit habitat conservation and restoration.
We greatly appreciate and would like to acknowledge the following agencies and organizations that have funded landowners and agricultural producers with land stewardship and watershed enhancement through our programs:
- 11th Hour Foundation
- Alameda County RCD www.acrcd.org
- AmeriCorps www.americorps.org
- California Association of Resource Conservation Districts www.carcd.org
- California Department of Conservation www.consrv.ca.gov
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife wildlife.ca.gov
- California Department of Food and Agriculture
- California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection www.fire.ca.gov
- California Department of Parks and Recreation www.parks.ca.gov
- California Department of Transportation www.dot.ca.gov
- California Department of Water Resources
- California State Coastal Conservancy http://www.scc.ca.gov
- California Wildlife Conservation Board www.wcb.ca.gov
- County of Marin http://www.co.marin.ca.us
- David L. Klein Foundation
- Inverness Foundation
- Marin Agricultural Land Trust http://www.malt.org
- Marin Carbon Project www.marincarbonproject.org
- Marin Community Foundation http://www.marincf.org
- Marin Municipal Water District www.marinwater.org
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation www.nfwf.org
- North Bay Watershed Association
- North Marin Water District www.nmwd.com
- Point Blue Conservation Science & the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed Program www.pointblue.org
- Rathmann Family Foundation
- San Francisco Foundation www.sff.org
- The Seed Fund
- Sonoma RCD www.sonomarcd.org
- State Water Resources Control Board & San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board http://www.swrcb.ca.gov
- Sustainable Conservation http://www.suscon.org
- University of California Cooperative Extension Service – Marin http://cemarin.ucdavis.edu
- US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service http://www.nrcs.usda.gov
- US Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov
- US Fish and Wildlife Service – Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program www.fws.gov/partners
- The Dean Witter Foundation www.deanwitterfoundation.org
- Watershed Alliance of Marin
Annual Report – Annual Report FY 17-18
Audits – Audits from 2000 to present can be found at this link.
Budgets – Budgets from 2007 to present can be found at this link.
Financial Reserves Policy – MRCD Reserves Policy-Approved 09-14-16
Summary of Fees Received and Revenue Sources. Marin Resource Conservation District does not collect fees. Please refer to our audit for a list of revenue sources.
Collaboration with Partners
MRCD values our partnerships with land stewards and land owners in our district, and the network of local agriculture and conservation organizations we collaborate with including:
- Point Blue Conservation Science: Students & Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW)
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- University of California Cooperative Extension Service (UCCE)
- Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT)
- Carbon Cycle Institute (CCI)
- Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB)
- Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS), and others.
As a multi-agency team, we combine and coordinate our expertise and funding to implement programs that conserve and restore the working lands and natural resources of Marin County for the benefit of all.
Who decides which projects get selected?
- Our funding sources determine our scope of work. For example,” Projects funded by the Clean Water Act must improve water quality”or, “Projects funded by CA Department of Fish and Wildlife must improve coho salmon habitat”.
- Marin RCD Staff receive calls of interest from landowners who have seen our notice announcing the grant. Those that meet the grantor’s specifications are selected.
- A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) visits ranches and ranks projects (See example criteria).
- A TAC recommends projects to the Marin RCD Board.
- The Marin RCD Board reviews projects for approval.
How do we decide on our projects?
The Marin Resource Conservation District (Marin RCD) may choose to accept a project using several criteria. Generally, there are three phases which connect public and private funding to on-the-ground projects:
- Phase 1: Setting Priorities and Securing Grants
- Phase 2: Project Solicitation and Eligibility
- Phase 3: Project Review and Approval.
Phase 1: Setting Priorities and Securing Grants
The Marin RCD cost-share programs are incentive programs intended to defray land manager costs in implementing projects that benefit soil, water, air, plants and wildlife on public and private lands. The goal of our programs is to help land managers practice better environmental stewardship by providing financial assistance for the implementation of ecosystem stewardship projects that would not otherwise be implemented without it.
Every five years, the Marin RCD publicly reviews and approves a Strategic Plan which identifies local ecosystem stewardship priorities. Each year the Strategic Plan is reviewed by staff and compares it with goals as identified in local, state and federal grant programs. If an appropriate match is found, a grant application will be submitted. Most of these grants are highly competitive, requiring a solid track record of past implementation success, therefore the selection and satisfactory completion of each project is critical to the availability of future funding opportunities. The expectation of the Marin RCD is that land managers enrolled in grant programs are responsible for long-term operation and maintenance of ecosystem stewardship projects to meet the mutual goals of both the land manager and funder.
Phase 2: Project Solicitation and Eligibility
The Marin RCD selects treatment sites for funding by mailing a postcard announcement to inform land managers of available funds for certain qualifying practices. Land managers may also call the office at any time to be placed on our mailing list and to notify Marin RCD of project ideas they may have. Eligibility for the Marin RCD’s programs is often determined by constraints of the grant source which may be prioritized by land use, watershed, or resource priority. If eligible, land managers can submit an application which will then be evaluated by Marin RCD staff and ranked by a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) using program-specific selection criteria. TAC members will consist of one board member representative in addition to professionals with backgrounds in: rangeland management, engineering, watershed advisory, water quality, revegetation, planning, design, permitting, and hydrology. The various expertise of the TAC members enables them to collectively brainstorm well-rounded design solutions with the land manager that meet the requirements of all parties involved.
Phase 3: Board Review and Approval
A prioritized list of projects is then presented at a public Marin RCD Board meeting for review, discussion, request for further information and/or approval. Applicants are invited to attend the Board meeting in which their projects are being reviewed. It is important to note that staff and/or subcontractors may need to prepare plans, designs, permits and budgets before final projects are approved by the Marin RCD Board and funding partner. Once the design and permitting phase is complete and projected costs are known, following a competitive bidding process, projects will receive construction approval. If approved for funding, a Landowner Authorization Agreement is signed which outlines the scope of the project, financial cost share, maintenance, and monitoring obligations. Project payments are made to contractors only after the completion of a project according to previously-approved plans and specifications. All project costs are reviewed by the funding agency and during the Marin RCD’s annual audit. Individual projects installed with grant funds must be in place and maintained for the life expectancy of the practice which may range from ten to twenty years, as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service’s practice standards and specifications.
The following costs are not eligible for grant funding:
- Practices required as a result of a court order;
- Practices required for compliance with local building permits;
- Practices associated with a mandatory mitigation requirement;
- Any costs incurred prior to written approval.