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The national seashore harbors remnants of a once-vast coastal prairie, with native grasses and wildflowers like these Iris and California buttercups. These native landscapes can be restored and nourished, but large areas of the park are leased to commercial operations, like this dairy feedlot at L Ranch.


Headcut erosion at Home Ranch with introduced Mediterranean grasses, closely grazed. These hills may have been clothed with deep-rooted native bunch grasses, such as found in the relict patch along L Ranch Road, with Idaho fescue and red fescue.


Non-native wild radish from silage fields have invaded the Tomales Elk Reserve.

Native checker mallow on ungrazed roadside.

Native checker mallow on an ungrazed roadside.


Trailing and slope erosion caused by cattle. By contrast, an un-grazed relict coastal prairie with Pacific reedgrass, a coastal perennial species growing in moist areas such as beaches, dunes, coastal woodlands, and wetlands. Both photos were taken in the Seashore’s Pastoral Zone, on the road to Drake’s Beach.


Invasive, noxious weeds, poison hemlock and milk thistle at cattle-pasture edge.

Coastal prairie relict on ungrazed corner near the Marshall Beach trailhead, with delicate annual lupine and native grasses.


Eroded, cattle-grazed hills at the national park, with weedy, introduced annual grasses and no bunch grasses.

Tule elk in Tomales Elk Reserve. There is no erosion and the native coastal prairie is coming back, along with some north coastal scrub for bird habitat.


Dairy cattle-grazed grassland at D Ranch, with all introduced, weedy, annual grass from Europe, such as hare barley, ripgut brome.

Ungrazed native tufted hairgrass (Deschampsiua cespitosa) meadow outside of Point Reyes Seashore.

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Photos by Laura Cunningham, Western Watersheds Project

Take three minutes to enjoy this beautiful video of Point Reyes National Seashore.
Courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning.
The Peninsula is what we have and there is no more where it came from.”

David Brower