The Marin County Board of Supervisors has voted to award a matching grant of $1.8 million to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) so it can purchase an agricultural conservation easement at McDowell Ranch.

The 723-acre ranch is an organic grass-fed beef cattle facility along Stemple Creek between Tomales and the Marin-Sonoma County line.

The easement will protect the area environmentally and agriculturally while supporting its ecosystem.

Stemple Creek runs through the McDowell Ranch property and acts as a tributary to Estero de San Antonio. (Photo courtesy of Marin County Parks)

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the land is one of the most critical habitats in the state, including the Stemple Creek watershed, which is a tributary to the Estero San Antonio. The property also includes 667 acres of grasslands and 56 acres of coast oak woodland and California bay forest. Most important to backers of the easement, it is now protected from development.

Funds for the matching grant will come from Measure A, which was passed in 2012 by Marin voters. The county’s contribution to the easement matches that of MALT, bringing the total to $3.6 million, the county said.

MALT has safeguarded more than 54,000 acres to support sustainable agriculture in Marin and protect habitats, according to the county.