Point Reyes National Seashore and Ranchers Embark on Suite of Rangeland Water Quality Improvement Projects

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Date: August 30, 2012
Contact: Devii Rao, 415-464-5172
Contact: Dylan Voeller, 415-464-5216
Contact: John A. Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135

The National Park Service, in cooperation with park ranchers, will be constructing numerous grant-funded rangeland water quality improvement projects on seven ranches within Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These Best Management Practices (BMP's) consist of four main project types: cattle exclusion fencing, cattle watering facilities, controlled cattle crossings and erosion control measures. Construction is scheduled to begin in early September and will continue in phases through fall of 2013. The projects have a water quality monitoring component, which began in the winter of 2011/2012 and will continue through winter of 2013/2014 to look for changes in water quality related to implementation of BMPs.

The projects are designed to reduce the amount of time cattle spend in or around waterways, with the intent of reducing sediment, nutrients and pathogens in surface waters. The projects will provide a benefit to ranchers by improving pasture utilization and providing cleaner, more consistent drinking water to cattle. They support Point Reyes National Seashore's goals of maintaining or improving habitat for federally listed salmon, reducing soil erosion associated with ranching activities, enhancing riparian and wetland habitats, and improving rangeland health. Ultimately, BMP's should improve water quality for other uses, such as swimming and fisheries. 

The projects are located in two main regions: 1) the Tomales Bay Watershed, and 2) the watersheds above the Duxbury Reef Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) and Point Reyes Headlands ASBS. These projects will help ranchers meet water quality regulations and aid in the protection of the unique aquatic resources contained within the ASBS.

Support for implementation of BMPs is provided by a grant from the State Water Resources Control Board in the Tomales Bay Watershed through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program (Clean Water Act, Section 319), through the Natural Resources Conservation Service's Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and in ASBS watersheds, through a partnership with Marin County under a California Proposition 84 grant.


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