The National Park Service is offering tentative support for removing controversial fencing that confine tule elk to the Tomales Point area of Point Reyes National Seashore.
The park service Friday released a statement saying it is putting forward a plan to remove both the controversial fencing, and water stations provided to the elk during recent drought periods.
The proposal is the latest turn of the wheel as the federal agency updates its management plan for the park's herd of tule elk.
It's far from set in stone. A final decision isn't expected until next summer. That will be made after a review of comments from federal and state agencies, and more opportunities for the public to weigh in.
So far, the NPS has received more than 4,000 comments on the proposal. Many are passionate. And most demand elk take precedence over ranching operations and urge either more restrictions or total removal of dairy farming from the national park.
While neither is on the table, it appears public opinion favors tule elk. It's something advocates have long awaited and a move celebrated by some environmental groups. Chance Cutrano is chapter chair of the Sierra Club's San Francisco Bay Chapter.
"This is a really exciting moment to hear that the park service is really taking into consideration the threats and stresses to wildlife of climate change, of more frequent and more extreme drought conditions at the seashore," Cutrano said.
Here are several samples from the latest tranche of public comments on the topic, some edited for brevity. Names are attached to comments where possible, as most were left anonymously.
"Recently 6 septic tanks on A and J ranch have failed -most likely due to the negligence of ranchers to “maintain the buildings in leased areas.” As a resident of Inverness in Point Reyes, I have to pay $500 every few years to pump out my septic tank to preserve the creek along my road. SIX septic tanks have failed and spewed human waste into our Point Reyes ecosystem," wrote Margo Wixsom.
"It mystifies me why you are having another planning process and comment period when the writing is on the wall," wrote Lonna Richmond.
"Ah yes, When a governmental agency such as the NPS faces public condemnation for its absolutely appallingly evil behavior, the obvious solution for them is to delay through research and planning. You know what is just and what is evil. Ecocide is evil. Stop the evil behavior. Free the Elk and get rid of the cattle," Kendrick Miller commented in writing.
The following comments were left anonymously.
"Commercial enterprise, especially when negativity impacting the free and flourishing condition for wildlife, in a national park is a disgrace. This ridiculous charade of selling this concept that these ranches can coexist with wildlife and habitat is deeply insulting to the public," wrote one commenter.
"Take down the fence. Let the elk roam free. Sunset the ranching and let the visitors roam free too. This is OUR public land," another added.
"Yes, I understand that some farms are run by small families - but I believe it would be better for all of us....if we ended their leases and made them compete on a level playing field like other producers. I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS PUBLIC GIFT of private lands to a few people making a profit off of them," added a third.
"Little is done to preserve and enfranchise Native American "historical sites" like Felix Point while ranchers are allowed to bulldoze, overgraze, create massive dumps, now leaking sewage tanks at L and B ranches because ranchers refuse to keep the terms of their leases. They refuse to maintain buildings as stated in the terms of their leases while threatening workers not to report rats, mold, broken flooring and sewage systems," another commenter opined.
While environmental campaigners claim that ranchers have been compensated and have reneged on agreements to relocate, various US secretaries of the Interior have extended ranch leases over the decades since the park's establishment.
You can read more of the 4000 plus comments and find info and next steps by searching for the "Tomales Point Area Plan" website, or by following this link. https://www.nps.gov/pore/getinvolved/planning-tomales-point-area-plan.htm