Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released for 45-day Public Comment

The Point Reyes National Seashore has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the General Management Plan Amendment (GMPA) for a 45-day public review and comment period. Deadline for public comments: September 23, 2019.

Planning Documents for Public Review

© Carlos Porrata

© Carlos Porrata


BACKGROUND

WHAT IS THE GENERAL MANAGEMENT PLAN AMENDMENT (GMPA)?

In spring 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) initiated the Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan (RCMP) for the approximately 28,000 acres of active beef and dairy ranching on NPS lands in Point Reyes and the north district of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The RCMP was in response to a decision made by Secretary Ken Salazar in 2012 requesting the Seashore to pursue long-term ranching and dairy leases.

The RCMP planning process was interrupted in 2016 by litigation asserting that NPS should complete an update to the Seashore’s General Management Plan (GMP) to address where ranching and dairying operations could continue, rather than how they should continue. The court approved a multi-party Settlement Agreement on July 14, 2017. Per the Settlement Agreement, the NPS agreed that in lieu of the RCMP, they would prepare a GMP Amendment (GMPA) and Environmental Impact Study (EIS) addressing the management of the lands currently leased for ranching in Point Reyes and the north district of Golden Gate.

The GMPA process began in 2017 and more than 3,000 public comments were received. Read EAC’s 2017 blog posts on the 2017 GMPA Comment Period and the 2018 Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS.


WHAT IS A DRAFT environmental impact statement (eis)?

The National Park Service is required by the 1916 Organic Act and 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to plan and make informed decisions that help preserve park resources and values.

NEPA requires federal agencies in the United States to assess the environmental impacts of a proposed major action prior to making their final decision. NEPA requires the federal government to use all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony. This is accomplished by proposing a set of alternatives and prepare detailed statements on impacts through an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

An EIS is required when a proposed activity is determined to significantly affect the environment. A draft EIS is prepared and released to the public to describe the effects of the proposed activities on the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment. The environment includes land, water, air, structures, living organisms, environmental values, and the social, cultural, and economic aspects.

The EIS is required to describe impacts that will result from the proposed activities as well as any mitigations (methods to reduce or remove negative impacts).

The 2011 National Park Service’s Director’s Order 12 and its accompanying handbook outline the policies and procedures by which National Park Service staff is able to meet NEPA requirements.


PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

HOW TO COMMENT

The public will have 45-days from August 8, 2019 to submit comments on the Draft EIS for the GMPA. The National Park Service is hosting two public workshops where the public can review the proposed plans, ask questions of park staff, and learn more about areas where there are specific concerns.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019
5-7 pm
West Marin School Gym
Point Reyes Station, CA

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
5-7 pm
Bay Model Visitor Center
Sausalito, CA

Comments may be submitted online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/poregmpa, at one of the public meetings, or by mailing or hand delivering comments to:

GMP Amendment c/o Superintendent
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


EAC’S POSITION

Since 1971, EAC has addressed the important environmental issues facing our community and our public lands.  We have worked on community development and public access to parks and coastal areas, supported pathways for ecologically sustainable agriculture, supported full designation of wilderness areas, promoted affordable housing development, protected wildlife, supported strong coastal protections, provided environmental education, and protected Tomales Bay and West Marin’s watersheds. 

EAC supported the 2012 determination by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to designate Drakes Estero as Wilderness. Part of that memorandum directed the Seashore to pursue issuing long-term leases to the ranches and dairies in the Seashore.

EAC continues our support for environmentally responsible ranching and dairies within the Seashore. The GMPA process is the appropriate method for making the determinations on where and how ranches and dairies may operate in an environmentally responsible manner within in the Seashore.

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 park. 

REVIEW of THE DRAFT EIS

EAC’s Lands Committee is engaged on this issue and will be reviewing the entire Draft EIS and draft comments. EAC will keep our members and community informed of our understanding and interpretation of the draft EIS and the impacts to park resources.

EAC’S GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • Ensure the protection and preservation of natural resources

  • Restore degraded habitats and park resources

  • Allow maximum public access to parklands


Resources:

National Park Service Planning Page

National Park Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement (see reports and appendix at bottom of the page).

20-Year Lease/Special Use Permit Templates

Draft Succession Policy for Ranch Operations in Ranching Zone

Draft EIS Public Scoping Comments (2018)

General Management Plan Amendment Background and Public Comments (2017)