In the past few months the Trump Administration’s has fast-tracked leases for drilling, logging, mining and grazing on Americans’ public lands. The Point Reyes National Seashore has been under target by ranching interests and would allow for increased grazing that put endangered wildlife at risk and pollute waters of the National Seashore and National Marine Sanctuary.
This week the Department of Interior is planning to rubber stamp the Record of Decision (ROD) for this damaging plan signed, sealed and delivered before January 20, 2021. A final step in thus process is the California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) decision as to whether the National Park Service’s (NPS) plan for the Seashore is “consistent” with State laws protecting the coast.
Last week, the CCC staff conditionally approved the NPS’s “Consistency Determination.” However, the staff included a major condition—that the NPS provide a comprehensive plan to address water quality problems before handing out any ranching leases. The decision to accept, modify or reject the staff’s recommendation rests with 12 Coastal Commissioners. Their vote is expected at the CCC meeting on January 14—just six days before the Biden Administration takes office.
In its submittal to the Commissioners, the NPS asserts that the elements of Preferred Alternative B are “consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the California Coast Management Program.” The CCC can only consider impacts to the Coastal Zone, which excludes federal lands. The NPS maintains that the majority of ranching’s impacts to the environment are outside the CCC’s authority.
At Point Reyes National Seashore, the Coastal Zone encompasses about one-quarter mile inland from the ocean. But “spillover” impacts from federal lands to the Coastal Zone fall within the CCC’s jurisdiction. It is these spillover impacts that we are preparing to focus on in written comments and expert testimony at the Coastal Commission’s January meeting.
The CCC staff report is narrowly focused on water quality. Additional spillover impacts not addressed, including air quality and climate impacts linked to cattle (the number one source of greenhouse gasses at the Seashore); water quantity—(there already are water shortages and demand for water will only increase once more livestock and commercial crops are introduced under Alternative B. In addition, the loss of public access to the coast as a result of special uses is at odds with the CCC’s commitment to inclusion and social justice.
In denying the CCC staff’s request to extend the review of the Consistency Determination until March 2021, the federal government has denied the Commissioners the time to fairly analyze and evaluate how 24 commercial ranching operations in a national park that belongs to 328 million Americans will impact coastal resources that belong to 40 million Californians.
With are joining the Point Reyes Seashore Association asking conservation and social justice organizations around the country to sign on to a letter detailing these concerns, and asking the Commissioners not to sign off on the Consistency Declaration.
Send an eMail Voicing Your Support
Experts will present testimony at the next CCC meeting.
NOTE: January 14 delayed to extend public comment.
To ensure there’s enough time for these presentations, we’re encouraging individuals to send written comments to the Commission by Jan 7th via e-mail to PointReyesManagementPlan@coastal.ca.gov
In your e-mails please also copy the following:
House Natural Resources Committee: email@example.com
Point Reyes Superintendent Kenkel: Craig_kenkel@nps.gov