Point Reyes National Seashore

About the Park

From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches through its open grasslands to its brushy hillsides and forested ridges, visitors can discover over 1000 species of plants and animals at Point Reyes National Seashore. As wildland habitat is lost elsewhere in California, the relevance of the Point Reyes Peninsula increases as a protected area with a notable rich biological diversity. More than 45% of North American avian species and nearly 18% of California's plant species are found in the park due to the variety of habitat and uniqueness of the geology. Thirty-eight threatened and endangered species exist within the Seashore.

The cultural history of Point Reyes reaches back some 5,000 years to the Coast Miwok Indians who were the first human inhabitants of the Peninsula. Over 120 known village sites exist within the park. In response to the many shipwrecks in the treacherous coastal waters, key lighthouse and lifesaving stations were established by the United States Government in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the early 1800s, Mexican land grantees established ranchos. They were followed by a wave of American agricultural operations, which continue to this day in the Seashore's pastoral zone.

Point Reyes National Seashore, as a member of the Pacific West Region, is involved in the first regional effort in the National Park Service to become carbon neutral.  The Region has developed a vision of having its park operations be carbon neutral and of having all of its parks be a member of the Climate Friendly Parks Program by 2010.


Emissions Profile

GHG emissions result from the combustion of fossil fuels for transportation and energy (e.g., boilers, electricity generation), the decomposition of waste and other organic matter, and the volatilization or release of gases from various other sources (e.g., fertilizers and refrigerants). 

As part of the Climate Friendly Parks program, Point Reyes National Seashore has been calculating its emissions using the Climate Leadership in Parks (CLIP) Tool since 2005.  The resulting emissions inventories are divided into four major categories by source:

  1. Energy –  includes GHG emissions from purchased electricity and combustion of fuels for heating
  2. Waste – includes GHG emissions from the decomposition of solid waste and processing of wastewater
  3. Transportation – includes GHG emissions from vehicles, large maintenance equipment, and off-road recreational equipment
  4. Other –  includes GHG emissions from permitted agricultural activities within the park, refrigeration units, and use of fertilizers

In 2008, GHG emissions within Point Reyes National Seashore totaled 20,239 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E).  This includes emissions from park, concessioner operations, visitor activities, including vehicle use within the park, and agricultural activities.  For perspective, a typical single family home in the U.S. produces approximately 12 MTCO2E per year (U.S. EPA, Greenhouse Gases Equivalencies Calculators – Calculations and References, Retrieved; Website: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html). Thus, the combined emissions from park and concessioner operations and visitor activities within the park are roughly equivalent to the emissions from the energy use of 1,723 households each year.

The largest emission sector for Point Reyes National Seashore is “other,” totaling 12,533 MTCO2E. These emissions resulted from agricultural activities permitted to occur within the park boundaries, including methane produced by cattle and the decomposition of animal waste in storage ponds. The second highest GHG emissions at Point Reyes National Seashore are due to transportation.  The park does not have a year-round shuttle and with over 1.2 million annual visitors, individual visitor vehicle emissions add up.  Additionally, the park has a high vehicle-to-employee ratio, with only 15% of the fleet comprised of diesel or hybrid.

The graph below, taken from our Action Plan, shows our baseline emissions in 2008 broken down into sectors.



Point Reyes National Seashore has committed to reduce park operations by the following amounts:

  • Energy use emissions to 45 percent below 2008 levels by 2016.
  • Transportation emissions to 50 percent below 2008 levels by 2016.
  • Waste emissions by 30 percent below 2008 levels by 2016 through waste diversion and reduction.
  • Other emissions by 25 percent below 2008 levels by 2016 through animal waste management practices.

To read more about what we are doing at Point Reyes National Seashore about climate change, check out our Action Plan!