Point Reyes National Seashore is a national treasure, a gorgeous remnant of coastal prairie and and an ecological oasis for rare native wildlife just north of San Francisco. It’s an important place culturally, recreationally, and environmentally.
The National Park Service has released its Draft General Management Plan (GMPA) and Environmental Impacts Statement (EIS) for ranching at Point Reyes National Seashore. This is the first time in the park’s history that ranching has been subjected to a full review of its environmental impacts, and the first time the public has had an opportunity to submit comments to the park’s ranching policy.
Unfortunately, the Park Service isn’t proposing to protect the seashore from livestock abuses. Instead, the agency is proposing to allow private ranchers to keep running their private cattle on our public park lands, plus expand their for-profit commercial agricultural operations: row crops, chickens, hogs, sheep, goats, horse boarding, plus private tours are being considered. This is a dangerous precedent inside our national parks.
The continuation of modern dairy facilities, trucking in of alfalfa hay, harvesting of potentially genetically-modified silage seed mixes, and a proposal for agricultural diversification flies in the face of preserving the integrity of historic structures, native wildlife and natural landscapes, and cultural sites. The park is proposing to concentrate dairy cattle in the heart of the National Seashore and feed supplemental forage, far beyond the carrying capacity of the land and native grasslands on these sensitive coastal habitats.
Perhaps even worse, the agency is proposing to kill native tule elk to enable ranching operations. The ranchers don’t like the wildlife eating “their” forage, so the Park Service is proposing to shoot elk if they cross over barbed-wired fences into ranches. It’s almost unfathomable that the agency would consider this in a national park unit, but we live in interesting times.
The Park Service is supposed to protect and preserve the natural features of Point Reyes as a National Seashore, for the use and enjoyment of the public, not the livestock industry. The ranchers currently squatting on Park Service lands were bought out at taxpayer expense for princely sums decades ago, with the explicit understanding that they would already be gone by now.
Please comment here, to tell the National Park Service that the public lands and native wildlife on Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area need to be conserved – not replaced with cattle and commercial agricultural expansion.
Comments are due by September 23, 2019. For more information, contact Laura Cunningham, WWP’s California Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.