Thursday, February 11, 2016

Point Reyes cattle ranches targeted in environmentalists’ lawsuit

It's all here:  cattle, oysters, wilderness, national parks and a supposed deal with Congress.

A year after an oyster farm was forced to shut down at Point Reyes National Seashore, sparking a bitter controversy over the role of farming in national parks, a coalition of environmentalists on Wednesday filed a lawsuit over a bigger and more explosive target: thousands of dairy and beef cattle in the park. Many of the cattle ranches in the iconic park have been operated by the same families since the 1860s. And park service officials say they have no plans to remove them. The suit against the National Park Service, filed by three groups in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claims that the cattle are causing erosion, polluting waterways with manure, harming endangered salmon and other species and blocking public access. The groups say park service officials are violating federal law because they are moving forward with a plan to renew 20-year leases to the ranchers without conducting adequate environmental studies on how the thousands of cows are affecting the seashore’s scenic resources, including its tule elk. Nor have officials updated their 36-year-old park management plan to consider other options, like reducing the number of ranches in the park or the size of the cattle herds, the lawsuit contends...more

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