News from Marin Resource Conservation District
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New Techniques on Farms and Ranches will Help Fight Climate Change
The California State Coastal Conservancy has awarded a $1 million grant to the Marin Resource Conservation District to plan and implement carbon farming projects that improve soil productivity, water sustainability, biological diversity, greenhouse gas sequestration for agriculture and watershed resiliency on ranches in western Marin County.
“This marks a new era for agriculture in West Marin,” said Nancy Scolari, Executive Director of the Marin RCD. “Thirteen years ago, we funded a small experiment to test carbon farming techniques to fight climate change. Now, carbon farming projects are the primary way we are achieving our mission of conservation and protection of the environment.”
In announcing the grant, the Coastal Conservancy said, “The project will enhance regional agricultural sustainability, climate resiliency, adaptability, and inclusivity by expanding the existing Carbon Farm Program in Marin County and by providing hands-on carbon farming and agricultural training to disadvantaged and disenfranchised communities.” The program also advances Marin County’s Climate Action Plan, which includes strategies to expand carbon farming by engaging 60 farms across 30,000 acres by 2030. The $1 million grant will expand the Marin RCD’s Carbon Farming Program and help it achieve the County’s Climate Action Plan’s goal.
Dennis Rodoni, Chair of the Marin County Board of Supervisors, said, “The Coastal Conservancy grant recognizes RCD’s great work in West Marin. The funding will help the RCD continue to improve the agricultural environment and to implement the County’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses with carbon farming.”
The grant requires substantial matching grants from other sources, including $225,000 in funds already secured from Measure A taxes in Marin County. The Marin RCD obtains funds and manages conservation projects that include fencing off creek beds, planting native trees and shrubs in critical areas, developing alternative drinking water sources for livestock and carbon farming. Based in Point Reyes Station, the Marin RCD has overseen nearly $30 million in agricultural conservation projects since it was formed in the 1960s.
For more information:
Nancy Scolari, Executive Director, Marin RCD – (415) 663-1170, ext. 301, firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Houston, Marin lands $1M state grant for carbon farming projects, Marin Independant Journal. San Rafael, CA.
Robin Meadows, Coexisting with Coho During Drought, Bay Area Monitor. Oakland, CA.
“When Bolinas farmer Peter Martinelli decided to help coho salmon by boosting summer water levels in Pine Gulch Creek, which runs through his land, he had no idea that the project would take two decades to complete. Now he’s happy he saw it through. Coho are endangered in most of their California range, and droughts like the one we’re experiencing now are among the biggest threats to these coastal salmon.”
“My grandpa used to say that salmon in the creeks were so thick, you could walk across the top of them,” – Jody Brazil (speaking of Walker Creek)
“Conservation can decrease pressure on agencies to keep water in reservoirs, freeing up more for environmental flows, Every little bit helps. Collectively, our actions will determine whether the Bay Area’s coho disappear or return in abundance to our coastal creeks.” – Sarah Phillips, MRCD Urban Streams Program Manager
Will Houston, Marin creek gets rare visit from endangered salmon, Mercury News. San Jose, CA.
“For more than a decade, biologists dutifully returned each winter in search of endangered coho salmon at a once-thriving stronghold flowing through Point Reyes National Seashore — only to come up empty-handed. That changed this year.”
Although nesting sites were not found at Pine Gulch Creek, one nesting site was found in Pine Gulch Creek, which follows Highway 1 and flows into Bolinas Lagoon. A potential reason why:
“For [National Park Service biologist Michael]Reichmuth the most likely explanation for why a salmon nest was found in Pine Gulch Creek after more than a decade is that some coho were unable to access Redwood Creek because of the drought conditions this winter. A sand berm at the mouth of Redwood Creek at Muir Beach can prevent fish from entering if winter rainfall isn’t enough to generate flows that can break through it…Pine Gulch Creek typically has more water than Redwood Creek, in part because of a program enacted by the Marin Resource Conservation District in 2016. Under the program, three Bolinas farms agreed to forgo their summer water diversions from the creek and instead were given permission to store water in four ponds during the more flush winter months. The intention was to provide fish, especially young rearing coho, more water during the summer months when flows can drop to dangerously low levels in dry years.”
George Clyde, The Marin RCD’s work paid off, Point Reyes Light
Watts, J. 2014. Marin Voice: ‘Carbon farming’ and Marin’s drought. Marin Independent Journal. San Rafael, CA.
MALT Executive Director, Jamison Watts, wrote that practices implemented through the Marin Carbon Project, specifically compost application on rangeland, can help ranchers manage for drought by increasing soil water holding capacity. Marin RCD is one of the many partners working on the Marin Carbon Project.