Many people believe a consequence of not funding private ranches with millions of public and private dollars will be for that ranch land to be turned over to urban developers.
First, this is not a real threat. Zoning laws prevent such development from taking place. However, thatâs not the topic of focus for this post.
Iâm curious why we must live under the cloud of threat that these so-called âstewards of the landâ would choose to doom the land to such development? The people who love the land and have a connection with the land are willing to doom it for a payout? Hmmmm.
Next, why do we think the fate of land must exist on only these two extremes? Why do we perceive no other options? The argument is always proposed as âItâs either ranching or skyscrapers, wouldnât you rather have the open space of ranching?â Make no mistake, this land is highly desirable and many would-be buyers are interested in doing good things with the land, such as natural restoration.
I happen to be familiar with a recent purchase of ranch land in Marin that fits the scenario I just described. The buyer was required, as part of the zoning law, to continue with agriculture of some form on the land while also being prohibited from subdividing it into multiple housing developments. So we can put this myth of development to rest.
Making the scenario above even more interesting is the fact that the ranch had already received a multimillion dollar MALT easement. Remind me again what the importance of those easements wasâ¦wasnât it to encourage the ranchers not to sell? With this one example we already see evidence that( A.) The land is already protected from urban development and (B.) these easements donât prevent the ranches from selling anyway.
Letâs go back to pretending that the myth of urban threat is real. These are all heralded as multi-generational family ranches so Iâve got to ask, how many generations are required to get your business to be self-sustaining? And after decades of using up the land and water to yield private income the final act is to sell the land off to developers? Thatâs pretty messed up. Anyone with an ounce of ecological sensibility can see that this land is abused and degraded. They used it for all it could give and now that earth is finally throwing in the towel the ranch owners final act is to finish the land off?
Iâve been examining urban sprawl in California for the last few years and this is absolutely a massive environmental threat so Iâm thankful for conservation efforts that protected places like Marin from suffering the same fate. But the existence of the ranches is not the savior. After all, it is the ranch and farm owners who are selling to these urban sprawl developers. The practice of ranching simply prepared the land for development by killing off nature ahead of time. Ranching is the disease that cripples the land. Urban development is the death blow that follows.
#MALT #MeasureA #conservation #conservationeasement #ranching #marincounty #cattle #livestock #urbansprawl
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