Our Own Backyard

A few months ago I saw a link to a movie shown on YouTube titled The Shame of Point Reyes by Skyler Thomas. The movie is very well done and all the information included is of public record.

I am a longtime Sonoma County resident and cannot understand how I was so unaware of this situation unfolding at Point Reyes National Seashore. Specifically, a proposed plan would allow ranchers to increase their leases to 20 years and the National Park Service to potentially kill the Tule elk due to “overgrazing.” This is the same native elk herd that was almost wiped out of extinction, and who are now thriving. So, which species will be next for the chopping block? If the ranches get their way and also introduce sheep and chickens, then probably the bobcat, coyote and fox. For sure, this will not end with the elk.

I learned that back in the 1960s the ranchland was purchased from the ranchers for $350 million. The ranchers were given 25 years to wind down operations and vacate the land. So, why are they still there?

I don’t think anyone would have noticed a small herd of cows, but greed took over—there are now 5,000 cows at Point Reyes National Seashore. They are degrading the land, wiping out wildlife habitat and native plants. The livestock-polluted water of Point Reyes ranks in the top 10 percent of U.S. locations most contaminated by feces indicated by E. coli bacteria. But even so, the National Park Service is still considering extending the leases.

The National Parks Service is to deliver its Record of Decision around spring, 2020. Once that decision is made, there will be no vote; our land will once again be at the mercy of the cattle ranchers. This is such an important issue, especially as a lot of residents depend on the agricultural industry. However, this is our land and it is an environmental and wildlife issue. Why can’t it be managed in a better way? Why can’t elected officials earn their pay by sorting this out, instead of giving in to pressure and the highest bidder?

I would encourage you to educate yourselves by watching The Betrayal of Point Reyes (a 13-minute version of the movie, The Shame of Point Reyes), then call Mr. Huffman and ask why he is complicit in giving away and destroying this spectacular part of the world.

Kay Wood

Santa Rosa

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