Settlement of Litigation on Management of Ranching Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the outcome of this settlement agreement?
This settlement agreement resolves litigation challenging Point Reyes National Seashore’s General Management Plan and its management of ranching.

 

Who are the parties of this agreement?
The parties of the settlement agreement are Resource Renewal Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, and Western Watersheds Project (Plaintiffs), the National Park Service (NPS) and Cicely Muldoon in her official capacity as Superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore (Defendants), park ranchers (Defendant-Intervenors), the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association (PRSRA), and the County of Marin (Defendant-Intervenors).

 

What action will the NPS take as a result of this settlement agreement?
The NPS will prepare a General Management Plan Amendment (GMP Amendment) and environmental impact statement that provides management guidance for approximately 28,000 acres in Point Reyes National Seashore and the north district of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including all lands currently leased for ranching.

 

What is a General Management Plan Amendment?
A General Management Plan Amendment (GMP Amendment) is a document that partially amends an existing General Management Plan (GMP). NPS policies allow for amending an existing GMP, rather than undertaking a new GMP, to address particular locations or issues. A GMP Amendment is prepared as part of a public planning process.

 

How will the GMP Amendment relate to the park's existing 1980 General Management Plan?
The GMP Amendment will replace the 1980 Point Reyes National Seashore GMP for lands within the GMP Amendment planning area.

 

How long will it take the NPS to complete the GMP Amendment?
Under the terms of the settlement, the NPS is required to complete the GMP Amendment and issue a Record of Decision within four years of the Court's approval of the agreement, by July 14, 2021.

 

Will the NPS issue lease/permits to the park ranchers during the GMP Amendment planning process?
The agreement allows the NPS to issue lease/permits to ranchers for terms not to exceed five (5) years from the date the agreement was approved by the court, July 14, 2017. These interim leases provide greater certainty to ranchers than the 1-year authorizations the NPS issued during the Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan process.

 

Does the settlement agreement require the NPS to consider and evaluate specific alternatives in the GMP Amendment?
Yes. The settlement requires the NPS to consider and evaluate the following action alternatives in the GMP Amendment: a no ranching alternative, no dairy ranching alternative, and a reduced ranching alternative.

 

Can the NPS consider action alternatives other than those required by the settlement agreement?
Yes. The settlement agreement allows the NPS to consider and analyze action alternatives in addition to the three alternatives specifically identified.

 

Can the NPS consider management strategies or actions that include agricultural diversification, increased operational flexibility, the promotion of sustainable operational practices, and succession planning, among others?
Yes. Except for the no ranching alternative, the NPS can consider management strategies or actions that include agricultural diversification, increased operational flexibility, the promotion of sustainable operational practices, and succession planning.

 

How will the NPS mitigate impacts to park ranch operations from tule elk while the GMP Amendment is being developed?
The park recognizes this is an ongoing concern to ranch operations. The park will continue to work with park ranchers and the PRSRA throughout the planning process to address management of the tule elk in a manner consistent with the agreement.

 

What park management is currently happening on ranches?
In order to adhere to various regulatory requirements and park service mandates, the park’s range program:

  • Monitors various attributes including vegetation, water quality, and ranch infrastructure.
  • Implements best management practices to protect sensitive resources including water quality and rare and endangered species.
  • Conducts residual dry matter monitoring each fall to get a sense of how much grazing occurred during the year.
  • Conducts invasive species management.
  • Conducts permitting for individual management actions and improvements by ranch operators not covered under lease/permits, such as fence construction and installation of water troughs.

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Last updated: July 17, 2017

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