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Unprecedeted comment period for Tule elk in Point Reyes opens soon

i Jul 24th by
The group Restore Point Reyes National Seashore sent this update on an upcoming public comment period that will affect the area’s Tule Elks. Please sign up for updates — and speak out for the elk next month:
“The National Park Service (NPS) at Point Reyes National Seashore says it plans to release its Draft General Management Plan Amendment (GMPA) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the impacts of commercial ranching at the National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in August. The public will have 45 days to comment on the way the National Seashore should be managed going forward. 
 
“The NPS has never before released an EIS on commercial ranching and dairy operation impacts at the National Seashore. It has for decades simply rubber stamped grazing permits that allow 5,000-6,000 beef and dairy cattle to graze year round on national parklands without issuing an EIS or allowing for public comment. Because of a federal lawsuit brought by environmental groups in 2016, the NPS must now provide an EIS on park ranchers’ impacts to native plants, birds, and wildlife, air, waters, climate, local economy, and visitor experience.

“Domestic cattle at the Seashore outnumber native Tule elk by nearly 10 to 1. The majority of Tule elk are confined to Tomales Point behind a 10 8-foot fence to prevent them from eating grass that’s leased to the ranchers. Half the confined elk herd—more than 200 animals—died during the recent drought for lack of water and nutritious forage.

“But there’s a free-roaming herd of Tule elk herd near Drake’s Beach, adjacent to parklands grazed by cattle. Ranchers complain that these elk compete with their cows for grass. The NPS’s proposed remedies include killing, fencing, and removing the elk. Its current approach is daily hazing to run the elk off the leased range.

“The soon-to-be-public Draft GMPA and EIS will determine the future of the elk, the Seashore, and GGNRA for decades to come. Learn more and Sign up for updates at https://restorepointreyesseashore.org. Please forward this newsletter to friends.  When the Draft EIS comes out, please mail your comments to GMPA, Point Reyes National Seashore, c/o Superintendent, 1 Bear Valley Road, Pt Reyes Station, CA 94956 or comment online at parkplanning.NPS.gov/poregmpa.

Some history on the Point Reyes area’s Tule elk from the same email: “Last year, in a move to eliminate the Seashore’s free-roaming elk herd and rewrite the 1962 law that established Point Reyes National Seashore, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced HR 6687, which would give ranchers lifetime access to graze cattle at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Under the Seashore’s enabling legislation cattle grazing is not mandated, rather it is at the discretion of the Secretary of the Interior. Essentially a death warrant for the native elk, Huffman’s bill was an end-run around the court-mandated planning process that NPS, Seashore ranchers, and environmental groups had signed on to and that would give the public the opportunity to comment on whether and to what extent ranching would continue in these national parks. When we learned that the Huffman bill had passed the House under the radar–without debate–and was headed for the Senate, we sounded the alarm. With your help, more than 13,000 messages were sent to our Senators asking them to oppose the bill.  Fortunately, the bill failed to reach a vote in the Senate. But Rep. Huffman recently signaled that he will try again if NPS doesn’t give the Seashore ranchers the deal they want.  Please stay involved!”

Also from the group: “Take three minutes to enjoy this beautiful video of Point Reyes National Seashore, courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning.”