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Metallica lead singer turns over 1K acre ranch to ag land trust

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The lead singer of Metallica has turned over 1,000 acres of his family’s California ranch in the hopes to keep ag production going.

James Hetfield and his wife, Francesca, donated an agricultural conservation easement on 240 acres of their ranch to the Marin County Open Space District in late 2017. This acreage connects to an additional 760 acres similarly preserved by the couple in 2005 and 2009. This week’s Open Space District Board of Directors’ action consolidated the three separate easements and then authorized the transfer of the easement to Marin Agricultural Land Trust to hold, monitor, and enforce in perpetuity.

“Lucas Valley is a key gateway to West Marin, not just in terms of scenic value but also in relation to the region’s ecological and agricultural values,” said MALT Executive Director Jamison Watts. “MALT’s new easement on Luiz Ranch represents 1,000 acres returned to ranching, 2.7 miles of stream conserved, and a link to more than 12,000 acres already protected by MALT and the Open Space District. It’s a boost for Marin’s farming economy and the wildlife that thrive here.”

Under the terms of the MALT easement, the land must be used for productive agriculture and will be visited by MALT conservation staff annually to ensure compliance with easement terms and conditions. The Hetfields will lease the land for beef cattle grazing under direction from their full-time ranch manager. Any future owners of the property will also be required to continue farming the land and meet the conservation requirements of the easement.

In a statement, the Metallica front man and his wife said, “Our family is very happy to work with MCOSD and MALT on re-establishing agriculture and maintaining the scenic corridor of the ranch. We believe this is a huge community benefit, and one of our goals is to keep agriculture on the ranch for a very long time.”

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