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Contact: Melanie Gunn, 415-464-5131
POINT REYES STATION, Calif. – The National Park Service (NPS) is issuing the record of decision (ROD) for the General Management Plan (GMP) Amendment and environmental impact statement (EIS) addressing the future management of all lands currently under agricultural lease/permit within Point Reyes National Seashore and the north district of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the management of free-ranging tule elk in those areas. The ROD identifies the alternative selected for implementation and concludes the environmental review process. The selected action serves as a blueprint to guide the NPS's management of lands, resources, development, and visitor use in the 28,000 acre planning area.
Public and agency engagement and feedback have been vital to the development and refinement of this plan and the selected action.
"Point Reyes National Seashore protects diverse natural and cultural resources that can serve as a model where wilderness and ranching can coexist side by side," said Shannon Estenoz, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. "We recognize and deeply respect the passion that so many people have about how to best care for this special place and look forward to ongoing stakeholder engagement in the years to come."
"This plan strikes the right balance of recognizing the importance of ranching while also modernizing management approaches to protect park resources and the environment. Input gained throughout this planning process was critical to shaping the National Park Service's final plan," said Craig Kenkel, Point Reyes National Seashore superintendent. "We look forward to bringing together the diverse perspectives that have helped shape this plan and working collaboratively to manage these complex lands for this and future generations."
The selected action described in the ROD includes modifications made to the preferred alternative after the release of the final EIS (FEIS). Modifications to the selected action are within the spectrum of alternatives considered and analyzed in the FEIS. These modifications are further responsive to public comments raised during the planning process, include conditions agreed to at the public hearing with the California Coastal Commission, and incorporate feedback from regulatory agencies.
These modifications to the selected action also include:
- more robust requirements for ranch operations
- further restrictions on ranch operation diversification, and
- improvements to the management of free-ranging elk.
The selected action requires infrastructure upgrades and operational changes for the protection of natural and cultural resources for existing ranch families to continue beef and dairy operations under non-competitive leases with up to 20-year terms.
Within an expanded Scenic Landscape Zone, tule elk in the Drakes Beach area will be managed at a population threshold of 140 elk consistent with desired conditions for the planning area. The Limantour herd will be allowed to expand in population and geographic distribution, but female groups will be discouraged from occupying ranching areas. The NPS will implement a zoning framework to protect park resources by directing ranching activities to appropriate areas while allowing for some operational flexibility. Diversification opportunities that could be implemented will be limited to a maximum of 50 sheep or 66 goats with an equivalent reduction of cattle animal units, farm stays limited to 2 guest rooms per ranch pending water availability, and ranch tours. The selected action also identifies opportunities to improve the visitor experience and a framework for managing visitor capacity in the planning area.
Prior to release of the ROD, the NPS signed a general agreement with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria (FIGR) to further support a government-to-government relationship with the Tribe and to expand their engagement in the stewardship of park lands. The selected action acknowledges this agreement and incorporates Tribal views and traditional ecological knowledge into the management of tule elk and ranchlands in the GMPA planning area.
The NPS initiated environmental planning in the fall of 2018 and released a draft EIS in the fall of 2019, both with formal public comment periods and public meetings. The NPS released the FEIS in the fall of 2020. The NPS developed the selected action in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Coastal Commission, the State Historic Preservation Officer, and the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of FIGR.
Last updated: September 13, 2021