Point Reyes National Park was created in 1962 when ranchers sold their land to the federal government at fair market value, roughly $350 million. At that time, the ranchers were given 25-years to transition off the land. To date, they have not left.
Surprisingly Rep. Jared Huffman, ordinarily supportive on environmental issues, has sponsored legislation to enable these ranchers and their cattle to stay on this public land in order to ‘preserve the history and culture of this land.’ The National Park Service also voted to allow the ranchers to continue to grow these private businesses into lucrative large scale productions with the possibility of further expansion. Once this decision goes public (this Spring) ranchers may be permitted to extend cattle grazing operations for another 20-years and quite possibly forever.
Currently, domestic animals outnumber native wildlife 10 to 1 on the West Coast’s only National Seashore. Further, the iconic Tule elk –a primary attraction to Pt. Reyes drawing over 90% of tourism to the area – along with other wildlife, marine life, flora and fauna have fallen victim to the operations of these ranches. And in this new plan, the Tule Elk will be permitted to be shot over concern that they are taking away from livestock grazing rights.
These ranchers and their lobbyists have worked behind the scenes for decades to permanently instate ranching at the Seashore, despite public opinion and known impacts to the land, water, and endangered species. All of this information is public record.
- Methane from cattle is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions at the Seashore.
- Ranching activities have decimated native plants, destroyed the landscape & severely impacted 100 native plant and animal species listed as rare, threatened and endangered.
- Privately owned livestock have contaminated the watershed placing the waters of Point Reyes National Seashore in the top 10% of U.S. locations most contaminated by feces indicated by E coli closing beaches, endangering land and sea life.
- Ranching operations have caused the spread of exotic weeds for livestock forage, helping to erode the native biodiversity.
Many would like to reclaim this public land and restore this place to the original purpose of preserving the natural landscape, environment and wildlife. Some suggest that ranching be scaled back to a very small scale to uphold the park’s intention of preserving history while also meeting the legal mandate to protect the nature and wildlife of this place.
Whatever happens, this is our National Seashore. For the sake of the planet and future generations, this place deserves to be protected.
Email/Call: Contact Rep. Jared Huffman (415) 258-9657 https://huffman.house.gov/contact/email-me
READ: Sierra Club Magazine: https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/california-coast-it-s-cattle-versus-elk