San Geronimo conservation easement planned on the old golf course

Most of the former San Geronimo golf course will be placed under a conservation easement, according to county and nonprofit sources.

The Marin Open Space Trust has agreed to pay the Trust for Public Land, or TPL, around $ 3.2 million for the easement, said Erica Williams, state project manager for TPL.

The easement will cover 135 acres of the 157-acre property. Marin County is negotiating with TPL to purchase the remaining 22 acres so that it can build a new headquarters for its fire department.

The Marin Open Space Trust, which manages two much smaller easements in Marin, received a $ 2.2 million grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board and a $ 1 million grant from the State Natural Resources Agency for cover the cost.

“TPL contacted us in 2019,” said Bill Long, president of the Marin Open Space Trust, “and as this was part of our mission and we saw the benefit of protecting this property, we decided to partner with them.

Williams said the easement will include former golf courses along San Geronimo and Larsen creeks, paving the way for future restoration of floodplains and wildlife habitat. She said the easement will also make the meadows, trails and wooded areas of the old golf course available for public use.

TPL will continue to own and manage the property for the time being, but hopes to sell the land to a long-term conservation owner by the end of 2022.

“I am extremely pleased that MOST and TPL were able to work together to place an easement on the creek side plots on the San Geronimo property,” supervisor Dennis Rodoni wrote in an email. “In doing so, it will be forever protected and accessible to the public.”

TPL purchased ownership of the golf course at the urging of Marin County to prevent it from being purchased by a private entity. The county, which was seeking to acquire the property for public recreation and for the repair and preservation of wildlife and fish habitat at the site, entered into a contract to purchase the golf course from TPL for $ 8.85 million. dollars by December 2019 at the latest.

However, the county’s purchase was blocked by a lawsuit brought by a group of residents seeking to preserve the golf course.

TPL conducted a lengthy public outreach to solicit community feedback on the future of the golf course ahead of the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.

Then, in December, TPL announced that it had established a ‘vision framework’ for the property that prioritizes ecological restoration and protection of the last major Bay Area salmon run to the basin. slope of the Lagunitas stream.

The framework also approves a wide range of public uses on the property’s 22-acre clubhouse plot, “including existing community gardens, trail connections, and a new fire station.”

Marin County supervisors met behind closed doors on May 4 to discuss the possibility of purchasing the lodge plot as a location for a new Marin County Fire Department headquarters.

“It’s early for the county to explore this possibility,” said Williams. “My understanding is that they should do some due diligence to determine the suitability of the property.”

Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber said, “By using the existing clubhouse and existing infrastructure, we will save millions of dollars in construction costs compared to new construction. In addition, public ownership of the plot will maintain public access and allow for the consideration of other public uses in the future. “

TPL rejected two other proposals for the site. One of them called for the construction of a sewage treatment plant on the property.

In 2019, a $ 90,000 study commissioned by the county and completed by Questa Engineering identified the old golf course as the best location for a facility that would service the Woodacre and San Geronimo apartment homes.

All properties in Woodacre and San Geronimo rely on individual on-site septic systems for waste treatment and disposal. Inspection of existing septic tanks in Woodacre during the winters of 2004-05 and 2007-08 revealed that 77% of homes had marginal or failing systems.

Another proposal rejected by TPL came from Wendi Kallins, a resident of Forest Knolls, who envisioned that part of the land would be used to create a no-till demonstration farm.

“We provided them with information that shows regenerative food production is compatible with preservation,” Kallins said. “The problem is, these subsidies are based on old environmental information. They do not understand that regenerative food production is very different from traditional agriculture. “

The money for grants to secure easements came from Proposals 1 and 68, both of which place a strong emphasis on water conservation.

Michael McLennan, a resident of Terra Linda who has been seeking to preserve the golf course, said he still believes pending legal action could derail current plans.

“Huge financial and ethical hurdles remain in the way of this process,” McLennan wrote in an email.

About Alma Ackerman

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