Over 1,000 acres of a ranch in Lucas Valley owned by the family of Metallica singer James Hetfield is one step away from being designated permanent farmland, protecting it from ever being developed.
On Tuesday, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved a deal to place almost all of Hetfield's land under the stewardship of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT). Under the arrangement, the Hetfields will retain ownership of the land, with three large parcels going into an agricultural conservation easement to preserve them as ranching land, even if sold. Once the deal is completed between the family, the Marin County Open Space District (MCOSD) and the trust, MALT will ensure that the land is never developed, in perpetuity.
"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," the Hetfields said in a statement released in November.
Hetfield, whose band Metallica has reportedly sold over 120 million albums worldwide, bought the 1,150-acre parcel known as Luiz Ranch in 1999. Over the years, he and his wife Francesca have placed large chunks of it into the agricultural conservation easement, starting with 440 acres in 2005 and adding another 320 acres in 2009. In November, the family offered another 240 acres to the easement.
By transferring stewardship to MALT, both the Hetfields and the county minimize costs for maintaining the property. To assist MALT in their work, the county and the Hetfields also set up a $175,000 endowment, according to MALT director of conservation Jeff Stump.