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Contact: Melanie Gunn, 415-464-5131
POINT REYES STATION, Calif. – The U.S. Department of Justice today filed a multi-party settlement agreement in federal court that, if accepted by the court, resolves the litigation challenging Point Reyes National Seashore's General Management Plan and its management of ranching. (Approved Settlement Agreement and Order - July 14, 2017 [4,799 KB PDF])
"We are pleased that park ranchers, local government, environmental groups, and the park, were able to come together and agree to move forward on this important topic," said Steve Mietz, acting superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore. "This approach initiates a comprehensive, robust, and durable planning process to define future uses of these lands managed by the park while providing interim stability and authorizations for park ranchers during the new planning process."
Signatories to the agreement include the National Park Service, park ranchers, the County of Marin, and Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association; along with the Resource Renewal Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Western Watersheds Project, the environmental groups that filed the lawsuit in February 2016.
The settlement agreement calls for the Park Service to prepare a General Management Plan 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. Park Service policies allow for amending an existing General Management Plan (GMP), rather than undertaking a new GMP, to address particular locations or issues.
The Park Service will also be required to complete the GMP Amendment and issue a Record of Decision within four years of the court’s approval of the agreement. The agreement allows the Park Service to issue leases or permits to ranchers for terms not to exceed five years from the date the agreement is approved. These interim leases provide greater certainty to ranchers than the 1-year authorizations the Park Service issued during the Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan process.
Lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice's Environmental & Natural Resources Division, Natural Resources Section and the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California negotiated the settlement on behalf of the government.
For more information, please visit our Settlement of Litigation on Management of Ranching Frequently Asked Questions page.