GMPA Comment Period Results and Habitat Restoration Allowable Uses


For 47-years, EAC has addressed the important environmental issues that face our community and public lands. We have worked on community development and public access to parks and coastal areas, supported pathways for ecologically sustainable agriculture, promoted affordable housing development, protected wildlife, supported strong coastal protections, provided environmental education, and protected Tomales Bay and West Marin’s watersheds. 

We are currently engaged in the public process around the Point Reyes National Seashore (Seashore) and their amendment of the General Management Plan (GMPA) that will provide guidance on future ranching operations. 

In October 2017, we activated our membership and community members to submit comments on the Seashore's 37-day public comment period on six conceptual alternatives. 

We have some updates on the results of the comment period, next steps, and a review of the November 6, 2017 Seashore letter to the Marin Resource Conservation District concerning Carbon Farm Planning.

Comment Period Results and next steps

The Seashore received over 3,000 comments on the proposed concepts. (Read EAC's comments). The Seashore is currently reviewing the comments and revising their proposed concepts based on public feedback.

The Seashore expects to release copies of the comments in the next few months and the official Notice of Intent should be filed 12-15 months from the October 2017 comment period so in the Fall of 2018 or Winter of 2019. The public can stay up to date on the timeline and process by checking the Seashore's GMPA update page and signing up for email alerts. 

Habitat Restoration and Interim Allowable Uses

Recent discussions in the West Marin community have implied that the Seashore may be preventing habitat restoration practices due to the language of the 2017 lawsuit settlement agreement . EAC wanted to take this opportunity to share our findings with our membership concerning this topic. 

Paragraph five of the Settlement Agreement outlines that the Seashore may issue interim leases to existing lease holders or their family members that do not exceed the interim period (until July 14, 2021). Those interim permits authorize the ranches to continue under the current terms and conditions and do not allow for new uses.

During this interim period, some ranchers are interested in implementing Carbon Farm Plans or grants through the Marin Resource Conservation District (RCD). The Seashore submitted a letter to the Marin RCD on November 6, 2017 outlining the types of Carbon Farm Plan techniques that may or may not be allowable under the language of the settlement.

Allowable: Techniques that have been implemented under past permits should be allowed. This includes items like: riparian restoration, riparian forest buffers, critical area planting, and wetland restoration.

Potentially Allowable: Some of the techniques that may be allowed include forage biomass planting, conservation cover, no till, improved nutrient management practices (improvements/refinement of locations for current manure spreading practices would be considered), prescribed grazing (if practice does not exceed current authorized annual and maximum stocking rates).

Not Allowable: Some of the techniques that are considered potentially new activities that cannot be implemented at this time include silvopasture establishment, windbreaks, hedgerow planting, compost application to rangelands, range planting, and anaerobic digesters without additional study and information. 

Overall, EAC understands the Seashore’s interpretation of the Settlement Agreement to allow for a wide variety of conservation and restoration projects on the ranches during this interim period.

We hope the ranching community will take advantage of the opportunities made available to them through varying techniques of allowable Carbon Farm Planning that will restore habitat and improve water quality while sequestering carbon and improve natural resource conditions on the ranches. Additional techniques may be available following this interim period.

Throughout this process, members can rely on EAC to stay engaged and provide updates and information on the process and additional opportunities for public engagement.