Comment for the elk before Sept. 23: Point Reyes deal is for ranchers
Restore Point Reyes National Seashore writes on its website:
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.