In this file:
· Officials Propose Killing Elk for Cattle in California Park
· New Point Reyes management plan riles up environmentalists — comment sought
Officials Propose Killing Elk for Cattle in California Park
By Associated Press
via NBC Bay Area - Aug 8, 2019
The National Park Service has proposed to shoot a few elk each year as a way to reduce conflict with livestock that graze a park north of San Francisco.
The draft proposal for managing the Point Reyes National Seashore would restrict the herd of tule elk to 120 adult animals in an area known as Drakes Beach, The Sacramento Bee reported Thursday .
The tule elk are North America’s smallest elk species and found only in California. On Point Reyes in western Marin County, they have been eating too much of the grass that farmers and ranchers rely on to feed their cattle.
The Park Service estimated it could shoot between 10 to 15 elk annually, based on the rapid growth of the herd over the past few years. In 2018, an estimated 124 elk roamed Drakes Beach, up from 76 in 2014. More than 600 elk live on the seashore.
About two dozen dairy and ranching families have leases on the national seashore and on the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Agriculture takes up about a third of the park’s 44 square miles (114 square kilometers).
Some environmental groups prefer that the park prohibits livestock operations.
The Park Service drafted the plan and several alternatives to manage the land as part of a 2017 settlement after conservation groups sued the Park Service in 2016. The lawsuit alleged that the federal agency was violating the law by renewing ranching leases without considering the park’s preservation.
Park employees would likely kill a few elk at various times throughout the year, ensuring a proper ratio...
New Point Reyes management plan riles up environmentalists — comment sought
Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle
Aug. 8, 2019
Ranchers in Point Reyes National Seashore would be allowed to grow crops, put up tourists in their barns and dramatically diversify their livestock operations if a voluminous proposal to extend grazing leases and cull a wild elk herd is adopted.
The National Park Service submitted for public review Thursday a draft environmental impact statement on how it proposes to manage 28,000 acres of agricultural land in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes seashore that has been the subject of a bitter fight over what should be done about the tule elk that charm tourists but gobble up grazing grass intended for cattle.
The Park Service’s preferred alternative of six options outlined would allow 10 to 15 elk to be killed every year so ranchers could produce cheese, plant crops, raise sheep, pigs, goats and chickens, and set up moneymaking tourist operations on their properties without having to constantly scare off muscular competitors with pointy horns.
“This is a shockingly anti-wildlife plan, and killing these elk will do nothing to fix or reduce the environmental damage caused by cattle ranching,” said Jeff Miller, senior conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, which supports allowing the elk herd free rein without interference from cows. “Allowing expansion of agricultural activities would inevitably lead to further conflicts with other native wildlife.”
It is a troubling conflict for many because it pits two almost sacred Bay Area environmental concepts against each other — sustainable organic farming and native wildlife conservation. Park officials say the controversial plan is an attempt to honor a commitment to agriculture made after the owners of the historic Point Reyes ranches supported creation of the park more than a half century ago.
The 652-page document is a much more detailed version of the park’s preliminary presentation, released last year, that proposed new 20-year leases for beef and dairy ranches at the seashore and “management” of the wild elk herd.
Cattle ranchers are currently allowed...