“To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
NPS Releases Seashore Ranching Amendment for Public Comment
(Suggested points for your comments are below)
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement and General Management Plan Amendment for ranching at Point Reyes National Seashore is a rare opportunity for the public to have a voice in the future management our national park. How you would like this national park to be managed and why? Send your comments to the National Park Service by September 23.
NPS’s “Preferred Alternative B” is a wholesale giveaway of our public land. It prioritizes ranching over recreation, wildlife and protecting natural resources. In sum, it commits our national seashore to commercial cattle grazing for decades to come.
Economics and climate change threaten the Seashore ranches’ viability. There’s a surplus of milk, prices are falling, and both beef and dairy consumption is declining. To shore up the ranchers, the NPS wants to grant 20-year leases and allow them to “diversify” by growing and processing crops and adding more livestock–pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep–to their operations. Their plan calls for shooting any Tule elk that “trespass” on the ranch lands.
Alternative B would:
- Create a new zoning framework—the “Ranchland Zone”—encompassing one-third—more than 26,000 acres–of Point Reyes Seashore and 7,000 acres in the Golden Gate Recreation Area. This would permanently commit these park lands to private ranching.
- Manage the elk herd using lethal removal methods. The NPS proposes to kill all elk that enter “public“ ranch lands. No new elk herds would be allowed to establish in the planning area. This sacrifices native wildlife living in a national park to private, for-profit ranching.
- Allow grazing for “approximately” 5,500 cattle—2,400 beef cattle and 3,130 dairy animals. Cattle graze at the Seashore 24-7 every day of the year. The land is never allowed to rest and recover. Cattle manure is inadequately managed, runs off into waterways and spreads disease. Public access to recreation is curtailed-when one-third of the park is devoted to ranching.
- Issue grazing leases of up to a 20 years to Seashore ranchers for beef and dairy operations, despite well-documented damage to grasslands, birds, native plants and wildlife; pollution affecting freshwater and and marine habitats; and methane and other greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the climate crisis. The 2019 United Nations report on climate change points to dangerously high temperatures, drought, and extreme weather events and calls for reforming agricultural practices, specifically reducing cattle.
Ranching is unsustainable. We need a new vision for the Seashore.
The preferred alternative:
- No ranching.
- Phase out cattle. Disallow domestic livestock in the park.
- Prioritize biodiversity. Do not kill wildlife to accommodate commercial interests.
- Restore the Seashore’s Pastoral Zone for wildlife habitat, native plant communities, scientific research and education.
- Repurpose historic ranch buildings for scientific research, interpretation and public education.
To comment on the draft plan, go to: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=333&projectID=74313&documentID=97154
Comment period ends September 23, 2019.
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In the midst of an urban population of more than 7 million people, Point Reyes National Seashore and its neighboring park, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, are unique fragments of wild California. Rare bunch grasses and wildflowers, Tule elk and spawning salmon are among more than 1,500 plant and animal species that depend on these national parks. Of these, more than 50 animal species and 50 plant species at Point Reyes Seashore are listed as rare, threatened, or endangered. Millions of visitors arrive annually to experience the wild Pacific coast, wind-swept grassy vistas, and landscapes that still hold remnants of what California looked like before European Contact. These national parks are at the center of a tug-of-war between public and private interests that soon will determine the future of these parks.
RESTORE POINT REYES INDEX
Ranching by the Numbers at Point Reyes National Seashore
Parks in Peril
Political forces, climate change, pollution, and accelerating rates of extinction have converged to threaten the places we all own in common. The pressure is on to allow oil and gas development, mining, hunting, logging, and grazing in some of our most beautiful, biologically diverse, and historic places—national parks, monuments, wilderness, and recreation areas. Although we all support public lands through our taxes, private interests are increasingly emboldened to exploit them for private profit. To make matters worse, federal budget cuts have led to crippling staff reductions at a time when demand for outdoor recreation and visits to our national parks are at an all time high. How do we defend America’s heritage and ensure that national parks will be “unimpaired” for generations to come?
Why Restore Point Reyes?
Urbanization, livestock grazing, logging, and agriculture have fragmented California’s native landscapes. Less than one percent of California’s grassland is still intact today. Remnants of once-vast coastal prairies still exist at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with the potential to recover the rich biodiversity that has been lost to decades of cattle operations. To provide refuge for wildlife; restore habitats for threatened and endangered species; improve water quality; provide educational and volunteer opportunities; sustain cultural traditions of native peoples; preserve America’s natural heritage—is this not what our national parks were created for?
Speak Up for Your Park
Does ranching further the purposes of the national seashore? Are park ranchers who sold their land entitled to permanently profit from it? Who benefits from ranching? Do those benefits outweigh impacts to the climate, land, wildlife, and public enjoyment of the national park?
We all are have a stake in the future of our public lands. Polls show that the public favors greater protection for national parks and monuments. But agricultural interests have opposed the scientific analyses and management planning that the Seashore needs and the public deserves. They are working behind the scenes to change the law rather than risk that a concerned public will derail their plans for the Seashore. That’s why it’s crucial to stay informed and to take part in the planning process.
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What and Who are Parks For?
Private ranching on 28,000 acres at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Impacts from the 6,000 beef and dairy cows at these parks are well documented: soil erosion, water pollution, invasive plants, declines in fish and bird populations, conflicts with wildlife, loss of public access to public land. Native Tule elk, the iconic symbol of Point Reyes Seashore, are found in no other national park. Most of the elk are confined behind an 8-foot-high fence to keep them off parkland leased for cattle grazing. Now, ranchers at the national seashore are pushing to “diversify” their operations. They want to add more livestock like sheep, goats, and chickens, and grow row crops. This calls into question the purpose of our national parks.
Under a 2016 court ruling, the Park Service must analyze the impacts of cattle to natural resources, wildlife, and recreation at Point Reyes Seashore and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Park Service is required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and update the Seashore’s 40-year-old General Management Plan (GMPA). The planning process gives the public a voice in deciding the future of these national parks. The articles, studies, and historical record assembled on this website are intended to inform and empower you to take action. Your comments are crucial to regaining the ecological balance and abundance of our national parks that are every Americans rightful heritage.
Join the NPS’s mailing list to be notified of public meetings and opportunities to comment.