County program will support land purchases through Measure A


A new program that allows nongovernmental organizations to apply for county seed money to purchase lands for preservation was approved by the Board of Supervisors last month. Under the Natural Lands Preservation Grant Program, cities, towns, special districts and historical and preservation groups may acquire Measure A conservation funds for up to 25 percent of a land purchase or $100,000, depending on which sum is lower. The county can make exceptions for high-priority acquisitions. Projects may also be brought forward by the Open Space District and parks department, but the idea is to “allow the county to contribute to the preservation of natural lands that are of regional significance but not appropriate for Marin County Parks or the Open Space District to own and manage,” said Chris Chamberlain, assistant director of Marin County Parks. His department estimates that just under 70 percent of the county is currently classified as protected land. Property acquired through the program cannot exceed fair market value and applicants must prove the project passes California Environmental Quality Act requirements. Interested parties must submit a grant application that includes the project budget, additional sources of funding and support, an implementation schedule, and land use plans. In accordance with the Land Trust Alliance Land Standards and Practices, recipients that acquire conservation easements through the program will be held responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the easements. Barbara Salzman, president of the Marin Audubon Society's board of directors, called the new program “a benefit to the community, to the environment and to the county.”