On October 31st the Point Reyes National Seashore announced their public process to update their General Management Plan Amendment (GMPA). This process will provide management guidance for 28,000 acres of the Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) that are currently leased for private cattle and dairy operations.
Public comments are due November 30th
The public can submit their comments through the online National Park Service Planning website, mail comments postmarked by November 30th, or walk them into the administrative offices at the Seashore.
In an effort to provide the EAC’s membership with a background and key priorities, we have outlined the GMPA process and suggested specific concerns we would like the National Park Service to act on in this process.
The Point Reyes National Seashore (Seashore) has opened their official National Park Service (NPS) planning process to determine where and how ranching and dairy operations will be authorized in the future through a General Management Plan Amendment (GMPA).
The GMPA public process will determine the future uses and land-use authorizations for ranching and dairy operations for the next two decades.
The GMPA is a complex undertaking that must balance a variety of concerns that arise from land-use and resource protection conflicts.
This public process, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), must allow for a thoughtful and meaningful discussion and planning review that ultimately will increase public confidence in the management of the Seashore.
NPS Proposed Action
The Proposed Action (Alternative B) would:
continue to authorize ranching and dairies for 20-years; explore opportunities for operational flexibility;
consider allowing diversification for new agricultural uses;
establish conservation frameworks for each lease that would map the range, pasture, and ranch core against biological, cultural, hydrological, and topographical resources that would provide guidance for operational practices and permitting;
establish programmatic best management practices;
improve trails and visitor access in the planning area;
minimize tule elk impacts within the planning area through management of the Drakes Beach herd;
and manage the historic districts and cultural resources.
EAC believes the GMPA must advance the protection, restoration, and preservation of park resources using ranch leases that ensure that multi-generational, environmentally sustainable ranching is complementary to the natural resources and visitor experiences within the Seashore.
Since 2014, EAC has participated in community conversations with local ranchers and environmental groups to discuss the issues raised within the GMPA process to find common ground and common sense solutions to complex issues.
EAC’s primary concerns center around resource protection, restoration, and public access. Therefore, we recommend the public includes the below topics in their personal comments so that NPS is able to address these concerns in their planning process.
1) Protection and Preservation of Natural Resources
Long-term leases should be determined through a transparent process and ensure ranching practices are compatible with the Seashore’s mission to protect natural and cultural resources and are complementary to visitor experiences within the park.
Protect and manage natural resources, including tule elk, with conservation of these resources as the highest priority, as mandated by the Seashore’s mission and current NPS management policies. Long-term leases and overall management strategies should strive to reduce conflicts and find non-lethal management strategy to balance and accommodate the presence of elk and cattle.
The proposed conservation framework and programmatic best management practices should be based on the best available science and have defined goals and outcomes for the lease areas that demonstrate ranching and dairy compatibility with the Seashore's mission.
Operational flexibility should allow for environmental improvements for ranches and dairies by simplifying operational processes; however, it must be limited to flexibility in current activities and maintenance and be integrated within the conservation framework.
EAC is not supportive of diversification, which EAC defines as new land uses outside of cattle ranching and dairying that impact park resources or visitor experience. If NPS is considering authorizing diversification within the planning area, it should be limited to the ranch core, and there must be a separate transparent public process and specific NEPA evaluation for any new proposed uses to identify environmental conflicts and appropriate mitigation to ensure consistency with the purpose for which the Seashore was established.
2) Restoration of Degraded Habitats and Water Quality
NPS should consider habitat restoration flexibly within the conservation framework in order to improve efficiency, funding, and third-party partnerships to identify and complete restoration projects within a year.
NPS needs to prioritize and increase resources for additional water quality sampling in all creeks and estuaries within the planning area boundaries to better inform management strategies and water quality goals.
3) Public Access
Ensure maximum allowable public access within the planning area, while respecting the needs for privacy within the defined ranch cores. EAC would like to see improved visitor interpretation areas and better-defined trails within the planning area so that the public is aware of where it is appropriate and safe to hike within the Seashore without damaging park resources or interfering with ranch operations.
With increases of visitation to the Seashore, protection of resources needs to be prioritized with improved public education and volunteer services to support those goals.
The comment period will close on November 30th. Please take time to review the information available in our resources section and submit comments.
What You Can Do
Write a letter and submit it to NPS by November 30th.
You can comment in three ways:
1) submit your comments online
2) walk your letter in to the Point Reyes National Seashore
3) mail your letter to NPS with a postmark of November 30th.
Office of the Superintendent, 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
EAC has a sample letter to get you started on your comments. Please use this as a suggestion of points you may want to raise. Please do not copy and paste, write in your own words.
TIPS for writing a personal comment letter:
1) Introduce yourself and a few lines about how you are connected to public lands and the Seashore.
2) Raise your concerns and link to the existing planning document language. For example, if you are supportive of Alternative B but have concerns you would like to see addressed or defined later, make sure to state that at the beginning.
3) Close with a thank you for the opportunity to comment.
4) Remember your letter will be made available to the public as part of this process.
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Page last updated: November 19, 2018