West Coast
CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat, 2018

CA - Close to Home: A land grab at Point Reyes

The outcome of the battle to end the leases for the nearly 6,000 grazing cattle polluting Point Reyes National Seashore — the ecological heart of the protected 900-mile California coast — will have far-reaching impacts.

The outcome of the battle to end the leases for the nearly 6,000 grazing cattle polluting Point Reyes National Seashore — the ecological heart of the protected 900-mile California coast — will have far-reaching impacts.

In a historic 5-4 vote, the California Coastal Commission reluctantly approved a National Park Service plan that grants 20-year leases to a few well-connected ranchers to graze cattle on thousands of acres of national parkland. The controversial plan drew nearly 50,000 public comments, protest demonstrations and vigorous testimony in opposition to the extensive environmental damage and costs of an industry that has long gotten a free ride in the only national seashore on the Pacific coast.

The park service plan overwhelmingly favors a handful of beef and dairy ranchers who pocketed millions of public dollars when they sold their land to the federal government 50 years ago and continue to lease one-third of the seashore today, though many of them own agricultural land outside the park.

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