• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

Climate Change Threatens Cultural Resources

By preserving some of the best of our cultural resources—buildings, landscapes, archaeological sites, and artifacts—America's national parks provide information about the past and provide important links to the present. Many of the cultural resources of national parks are at risk from the possible effects of a climate disrupted by human activities. At Point Reyes, cultural resources are at risk from increased flooding and erosion and by rising seas.

With a changed climate, severe winter storms are likely to become more frequent and powerful. As a result, Point Reyes is likely to experience an increase in flooding and erosion, which, even at normal historical levels, pose one of the largest threats to the cultural resources in the park. Furthermore, an increase in summer wildfires, projected to occur with climate change, would likely increase erosion even more.

With the level of the world's oceans predicted to rise as a result from climate change, cultural resources of the national parks along the Pacific coast could be at risk. Point Reyes National Seashore has more than 120 known sites that are evidence of the Coast Miwok Indians' settlements going back 5,000 years. In nearby Golden Gate National Recreation Area, historic Fort Mason and portions of the Presidio of San Francisco, the oldest continuously used military post in the nation, are low enough to be vulnerable to rising waters.

Read the KQED's Climate Watch report entitled "Rising Seas Threaten California's Coastal Past: Higher tides and increased erosion will wipe out archaeological sites," filed by Molly Samuel on July 29, 2012. Listen to the radio version of this story from KQED's The California Report.

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