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” and open to all people 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?
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, under the new plan, ranchers at the national seashore will be able to “diversify” their operations–adding sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens to the nearly 6,000 cattle they graze in the park. There are more cattle in this national park than there are elk in the world.
Speak Up for Your Park–Take Action
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.
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 that the Seashore needs and the public deserves. The ranchers 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 the next 30-days are crucial to take action.