News Release

Statement from Superintendent Craig Kenkel on Upcoming Planning for Tomales Point at Point Reyes National Seashore

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Date: December 14, 2021
Contact: Melanie Gunn, 415-464-5131

The National Park Service (NPS) continues to monitor conditions at Tomales Point with respect to tule elk and has taken actions to address issues associated with the current drought. Specifically, in June and then September/October 2021, the NPS installed seven water trough and tank systems for the elk within the designated wilderness within the south, middle, and northern sections of the Tomales Point Tule Elk Reserve (Reserve). The NPS also placed mineral licks at all seven water troughs to supplement potential mineral limitations identified for the Point Reyes Peninsula. Observations of elk, natural water sources, and use of the park installed water systems and licks indicate that there is use, but natural waters sources also remain. In December 2021, NPS staff completed the annual population census for the Tomales Point elk herd, with the count at 221 animals. While this represents a reduction from the 2020 census with 293 elk, observations by park staff indicate that the elk population has remained stable since early summer. Park staff spent extensive time in the Reserve between May and December 2021 but found only three carcasses of elk that died during this period.

Based on the severity and the frequency of the two historic droughts that have occurred within the last 8 years—one of which we are still in—the NPS has determined to start the process for a new management plan for Tomales Point to be developed through an environmental impact statement (EIS). The plan will address the relevant wildlife, resource and wilderness management issues related to the documented impacts and previously unseen conditions from these historic droughts. The plan will include resource and site-specific analysis to address wilderness and elk herd management and decisions that can be implemented when the plan is final. The plan would replace the 1998 Tule Elk Management Plan for the Tomales Point (10,680 KB PDF). The plan will also contain programmatic analysis in a review and revision, where appropriate, of the General Management Plan for the park as it relates to Tomales Point and will address the relevant statutory criteria at 54 U.S.C. § 100502.

The NPS is committed to addressing these complex management issues at Tomales Point and will begin pre-National Environmental Policy Act planning by inviting public comment on the scope of a plan and potentially a preliminary range of alternatives by March 31, 2022. Beginning now and continuing throughout the entire process, the NPS will consult with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, other federal agencies, and state and local agencies, including formal consultation under applicable laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. The NPS envisions publishing a formal Notice of Intent initiating the EIS process by March 31, 2023 and completing the EIS process with a Record of Decision consistent with applicable regulations.

Last updated: March 24, 2022

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