Letter to the CCC
Re: NPS’s Water Quality Strategy; Agenda Item CD-0006-20 (NPS, Point Reyes
GMPA); Hearing on September 8, 2022
Dear California Coastal Commission:
I have a question for the California Coastal Commission. Why is there a sense that the ranchers (and park service staff) are owed another chance? Just answer that question. What is this foregone conclusion based on? It seems predetermined that we the public always owe ranchers, no matter what it is they have done and no matter how long they have been doing it.
Let’s be very clear about something. Over the last several decades as Point Reyes National Seashore made headlines for its water contamination, as ranching violations and shocking abuses to the land were revealed by citizens (not the park service) the ranchers themselves were NOT oblivious to these issues. These were not oversights. These were not accidents. On the contrary the ranchers were heavily engaged in their ongoing marketing campaign of being stewards of the land…small, local, organic, responsible, loyal, etc.
If any of those descriptive marketing words just mentioned in the paragraph above actually applied to the reality of these ranchers, then none of these violations would exist. Maybe some small issues here and there, but we are instead talking about violations that make one scratch their heads in disbelief. Responsible stewards would be out testing their own water and voluntarily contacting the CCC, Park Service, the county, etc. to find ways to make improvements rather than waiting to be shamed by citizens who took it on themselves to show the reality of the situation. No, these are instead people who chose the path of getting away with as much as they can as long as they can. This behavior is that of spoiled, entitled children who have never been spanked. The ranchers behave as though they operate with impunity, and with good reason, for indeed it seems that they do.
Reading historical documents over the last four years I noticed that the ranchers often refer to themselves as “loyal”. The “loyal dairy ranchers of Marin.” What does that mean, anyway, loyal? Loyal to who? These people engage in a for-profit business that hurts the land, water, plants, taxpayers, and animals all to put money in their own pockets. They are loyal to themselves and themselves alone.
We should be discussing reparations. We should be discussing how much money the ranchers will pay back to the citizens while they pack up and finally leave. We should be discussing how quickly they should be forced to exit to any of their multiple other ranches waiting for them outside the seashore. We should be discussing how much of the restoration process the ranchers will fit the bill for once nature finally has a chance to heal in their absence.
But instead we are discussing whether or not to put any limitations on their next reward. Yes, we continue to reward the spoiled child and, like a parent in denial, claim that things will get better. Or even worse, claim that nothing is wrong.
Perhaps worse than the ranchers themselves are those who supposedly manage the ranchers. Yes, for those who have forgotten, the ranchers are lessees under the management of lessers and the lessers are the Point Reyes National Seashore Park Service. In this case we can summarize “management” as turning a blind eye to violations while making excuses for the violators. The violations that are so egregious that they make the news are NOT the only violations. No, there is a seemingly bottomless pit of them as I have discovered by perusing documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and there are numerous more waiting to be found although the park service is illegally refusing to release these. As for the violations that I have read, these appear to have all gone unpunished other than receiving a phone call.
I’d like to share one moment from my 2.5 hour phone interview with the Park Service's outreach coordinator, Melanie Gunn. After questioning Melanie about some of these violations (and she even volunteered to tell me about other ones) her response was, “You have to remember how long these people have been here and that they still think this is their land.” Tell me, whose job is it to make sure the lessee is aware that they are the lessee? Correct, that would be the manager. But this manager would rather make excuses for the tenant rather than evict the tenant. Heck, this manager won’t even make the tenant pay for punching holes in the wall of the rental unit.
As for the embarrassing excuse itself, are we really supposed to believe that after receiving a multi-million dollar payout and then signing new leases and operating permits each and every time these permits and leases need to be renewed, that these people actually think they still own the land? These same people who pay lobbyists to get their LEASES extend don’t know that they are lessees? How pathetic of an excuse is that? And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the sort of excuse that the park service comes up with. Yes, the very people you are pretending we can trust to do better in future.
‘Better.’ What does that mean? Considering that the water quality is already the worst in the state we can only go up, right? Considering that everyone who has ever worked for the Department of the Interior in some capacity has looked at Point Reyes and said to me, “This is the most abused, mismanaged land I have ever seen,” I guess we can only go up. Hurray, how inspiring! The bar has been set so low by the ranchers and their buddies, the defunct Park Service, that it will actually be hard to do worse. So in a few years, if indeed any improvements do take place, perhaps this National Seashore will only be the second most polluted location on the west coast and only a few more threatened species will have disappeared. Let’s all cheer for the victory.
Put your fear of or loyalty to the ranchers aside for a moment and take a good look at who you are giving your blessing to.
While droves of wildlife die in horrific ways the park service constantly tells the public that they are actively monitoring the situation. The last several years are riddled with published quotes from the park service assuring the public how actively they monitor and manage Point Reyes. So if they already have been actively monitoring, on what grounds does the CCC, or anyone, think the park service can improve? They already claim to be putting in the work. Mind you, that every violation I read about in the FOIA papers was initially reported by a citizen. A birder, a hiker, etc. NOT the “actively monitoring park service”. Even the violations so terrible that you can read about them in the news weren’t found by the park service.
I’ve been documenting the damage caused by the ranchers and the suffering of the wildlife in Point Reyes National Seashore for the last four years. Never once have I encountered a park service staff member out in the field. Not once. Not even using my zoom lens to scan the horizon for anyone. Not once. Nor have any of my colleagues. How’s that even possible? One would think it must happen at least once, if not to me, then to someone else since the park service is out there actively monitoring. No, the park service staff only appear when it is time to police the citizens of the United States when those citizens have the gall to hold protests about what is taking place in the park that THEY own, not the ranchers.
So, CCC, somehow you expect the park service to do a better job even though they claim they have already been doing a great job. You expect the ranchers to do a better job even though they are currently hailed as “models for agriculture and nature coexisting.” Both parties involved already claim to be doing a great job, in fact, to hear their public comments, nothing is even wrong.
This blind hope that things will improve is a farce. The mindset that they deserve another chance to improve is a farce. Even giving this proposed plan a moment of consideration indicates that the CCC bows to the power of the ranchers and the politicians the ranchers control, the same way the park service does.
With that in mind let me share another moment from my conversation with Melanie Gunn. I said, “How can you expect the behavior to improve if you don’t ever hold them accountable?” She replied, “We have tried, but when we try to come down on the ranchers the politicians come down on us.”
And there you have it. The bottom line. This isn’t about whether or not the ranchers will improve or whether the park service will improve, this is about the fact that the ranchers, supposedly harmless little families, do in fact control politics. This isn’t about science. This isn’t about the water quality tests. This isn’t about conducting studies on native species populations. This isn’t about measuring residual dry matter on ranch land or making sure that more massive landfills aren’t dug in the future. This is about people who have too much power and have abused that power for too long. Please, CCC, be a source of inspiration for those still fighting the good fight. The evidence against the ranchers is overwhelming. The damage is overwhelming. The historical evidence that nothing will improve is overwhelming (and even if it did improve it would still be bad for the land and water and wildlife). You, CCC, can show the public that you care to restore health to the land of Point Reyes National Seashore simply by using the science and data in front of you to do what it is that data says you should do. Politicians and ranchers be damned, DO THE RIGHT THING!
#CCC #californiacoastalcommission #water #waterquality #pointreyes #ranchers #california #dairy #marincounty #pointreyesnationalseashore
Dr. Howell Destroys Ranching Myths
Does it matter what his credentials are? Does it matter what the history books say? Does it matter what physical evidence is set before your eyes? Probably not if your morals are dictated by selfish gluttony. But here's the data for those willing to learn.
#dairy #ranching #regeneration #regenerativegrazing #ranchingmyths #juddhowell #drhowell #thecostofmeat #suffering #coexistence #watchinghumans #skylerthomas #thecoexistenceinitiative
Itâs strange to hear people state that Marinâs ranches should receive public funding because they are sustainable businesses worthy of saving. This always struck me as an oxymoron. Sustainable businesses shouldnât rely on outside funding.
In contrast to being self-sufficient, these ranches receive federal subsidies, state grants, state and federal bailouts, the use of incredible amounts of land, and grandfathered water rights for the land (which essentially means they get to use copious amounts of water for their businesses without paying for it while operating in a drought state). As if all that wasnât enough, these ranches also apparently need multi-million dollar conservation easements to help them keep operating (enter MALT and Measure A).
At what point do you finally realize you are using the definition of UNSUSTAINABLE to describe sustainable businesses?
If in fact these businesses are struggling I gotta ask, how many generations are required for these people to finally figure out a good business model? Why is it our responsibility to bail them out? What other businesses do you know like that?
The reality is that these businesses were never sustainable, but they had access to plentiful resources thus they could operate in an unsustainable manner and still be profitable. Mother earth has finally reached the point of not being able to handle the constant abuse and therefore these businesses need even more financial help (trucking in water, drought disaster relief, etc.). Maybe instead of continuing to spend tax dollars keeping businesses that hurt the planet going it's finally time to look at what should replace those ranches.
#sustainable #ranches #unsustainable #economicdrain #ranching #landabuse #cattle #animalagriculture #MALT #MeasureA #conservation #conservationeasement #ranching #marincounty #cattle #livestock
Many people believe a consequence of not funding private ranches with millions of public and private dollars will be for that ranch land to be turned over to urban developers.
First, this is not a real threat. Zoning laws prevent such development from taking place. However, thatâs not the topic of focus for this post.
Iâm curious why we must live under the cloud of threat that these so-called âstewards of the landâ would choose to doom the land to such development? The people who love the land and have a connection with the land are willing to doom it for a payout? Hmmmm.
Next, why do we think the fate of land must exist on only these two extremes? Why do we perceive no other options? The argument is always proposed as âItâs either ranching or skyscrapers, wouldnât you rather have the open space of ranching?â Make no mistake, this land is highly desirable and many would-be buyers are interested in doing good things with the land, such as natural restoration.
I happen to be familiar with a recent purchase of ranch land in Marin that fits the scenario I just described. The buyer was required, as part of the zoning law, to continue with agriculture of some form on the land while also being prohibited from subdividing it into multiple housing developments. So we can put this myth of development to rest.
Making the scenario above even more interesting is the fact that the ranch had already received a multimillion dollar MALT easement. Remind me again what the importance of those easements wasâ¦wasnât it to encourage the ranchers not to sell? With this one example we already see evidence that( A.) The land is already protected from urban development and (B.) these easements donât prevent the ranches from selling anyway.
Letâs go back to pretending that the myth of urban threat is real. These are all heralded as multi-generational family ranches so Iâve got to ask, how many generations are required to get your business to be self-sustaining? And after decades of using up the land and water to yield private income the final act is to sell the land off to developers? Thatâs pretty messed up. Anyone with an ounce of ecological sensibility can see that this land is abused and degraded. They used it for all it could give and now that earth is finally throwing in the towel the ranch owners final act is to finish the land off?
Iâve been examining urban sprawl in California for the last few years and this is absolutely a massive environmental threat so Iâm thankful for conservation efforts that protected places like Marin from suffering the same fate. But the existence of the ranches is not the savior. After all, it is the ranch and farm owners who are selling to these urban sprawl developers. The practice of ranching simply prepared the land for development by killing off nature ahead of time. Ranching is the disease that cripples the land. Urban development is the death blow that follows.
#MALT #MeasureA #conservation #conservationeasement #ranching #marincounty #cattle #livestock #urbansprawl
If you support Measure A it is likely because you support parks. It's also likely that you saw part of MALT's misleading $300,000 advertising campaign, after all, MALT will be thing winners if this passes. What you likely don't realize is that Measure A will allocate 20 percent of public funds—some $30 million—to Marin’s largest landowners.. Private, wealthy land owners get 20% of your tax dollars that you thought were going toward parks and restoration. The financial aspect of this sneaky allocation of tax dollars is bad enough, but from an ecological aspect I can say that supporting ranching is the same as hurting nature.
Go to the page to learn more.
#MALT #Marinagriculturallandtrust #measureA #ranching #marincounty #pointreyes #cattle #nature #parks #openspace #shameofpointreyes
Phyllis Faber is at it again
In order to help her fellow board members and ranching buddies procure more riches from the tax payers, Phyllis Faber is back telling lies to the media. Dear Ms. Faber, please take us on a tour of one of these flourishing ecosystems on MALT land!
#MALT #RAGG #Marincounty #ranching #unsustainable #ecosystems #nature #agriculture #animalagriculture #livestock #resources #water
The Significance of Marin Ranches
Response to 'Significance of Marin Agriculture'.
It's really something to read these letters to the editor from ranch supporters which are actually testaments to the opposite of their proposed arguments. For example, this recent letter regarding “ranching significance” actually proves a point that I recently made in a presentation for one of my ecology courses; Marin agriculture uses an absurd amount of land to produce very little. And yet here we have letters proclaiming how many farms and ranches there are and and actually bragging how many acres these businesses occupy as if it's an argument in their favor. Do you not understand that the output is minuscule considering how much land was required for that output? It's as inefficient a use of land as is possible while simultaneously consuming a shocking amount of natural resources and tax dollars. I'm not saying I am an advocate for industrialization or development, I'm just pointing out the ratio of production to land use is inefficient on the level of being ludicrous. Despite the repeated abuse of the word “sustainable” by these industries, the reality is that they match the very definition of unsustainable. There are many options for land use that extend beyond commercial development and almost all of them are more eco-friendly than these "family" ranches.
#pointreyeslight #ranching #pointreyes #marin #marincounty #significance #agriculture
It's hard for the number one thing on my mind not to be, "Will the comments be as thoroughly ignored as last time?" Even after PRNS discarded nearly a thousand comments opposing ranching, the opposition to ranching was still an avalanche burying the support comments, all of which were submitted by ranchers and ranch associations.
When questioned why the comments were ignored PRNS responded, "It's not a popularity contest."
On the other hand, after a letter to the PRNS staff from the PRNS Ranching association was revealed, it showed that the management plan the park drafted was essentially a mirror copy of the ranchers' request letter.
So, I ask the public, does it feel good to know that your comments mean nothing?
I decided to share my Environmental Science presentation on YouTube in 2 parts. All data sources are listed there. Youtube.com/watchinghumans
It appears that the definition of UNSUSTAINABLE matches what we are currently calling SUSTAINABLE. Why are we so easily duped by this word?
#sustainable #marincounty #marin #ranching #water #drought #subsidies #taxes #land #dairy
In response to the MCL’s, Nona Davis’s, completely intangible argument defending the planet-killing, habitat-destroying, tax-payer-draining, wildlife-murdering, pro-ranch plan, may I remind everyone that the Marin Conservation League is responsible for hindering the initial creation of Point Reyes National Seashore in the first place dating back to 1961. Why did MCL reject the plan back then? For good reason? For tangiblee reasons? For scientific reasons? No, according to Point Reyes National Seashore’s own historical document, ‘An Administrative History of Point Reyes’, the Marin Conservation League obliged The Ranchers Assocation’s request to reject the plan without even looking at the plan. Let me repeat, the MCL was so thoroughly controlled by ranchers even back then that it took nothing more than the request of ranchers to reject a federal plan to create a National Seashore.
With a society more corrupted than ever by the financial and political power of animal agriculture and other influential, destructive industries it’s no wonder that Marin Conservation League publishes such embarrassing statements.
The Marin Conservation League has been and continues to be, in reality, a cover for its actual title, The Marin Cattle League. You can love cows and ranchers and the death of natural habitat all you want, but lies are lies and deception is deception. Just be honest about who you support when you support an organization like this.
Citizens of Marin, take control of Marin County before the county is one big cow turd.
For those willing to look at the evidence rather than live in denial, here's a link to the Administrative History hosted on the NPS website.
#marinconservationleague #marincattleleague #pointreyes #pointreyesnationalseashore #cattleindustry #ranchers #marincounty #shameofpointreyes #dairyindustry
I'll supplement this blog post by including an excellent rebuttal by Deborah Moskowitz
Point Reyes debate more than ‘philosophical’
In an article published in the IJ (“Suit targets elk, ranch plan,” Jan. 11), the Marin Conservation League’s Nona Dennis implies that our lawsuit is unwarranted, based on nothing more than “philosophical differences” about the future of ranching in Point Reyes National Seashore.
In fact, the complaint was filed because the National Park Service’s General Management Plan Amendment clearly violates multiple federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act. It also makes a mockery of the park service’s Organic Act and the Point Reyes Act that entrust it with preserving the area unimpaired for public enjoyment.
The plan was roundly opposed in public comments and by scientists, park advocates, environmental groups, social equity groups, animal rights activists and the Coast Miwok, whose historic stewardship is sidelined by the commercial ranching that dominates cultural interpretation. Officials are ignoring the public and the experts, relying instead on an inadequate environmental impact statement presenting almost no baseline data for making critical decisions about allocating water and other resources, determining viable elk herd size or limiting the spread of infectious cattle diseases to wildlife.
Dennis suggests that agencies “will work to resolve many of the impacts caused by ranching over time.” But the plan shows almost nothing of how the park service intends to comply with federal laws, remedy environmental damage and prevent further degradation as we face the climate crisis. Instead, it authorizes renewable 20-year leases and expands ranchers’ privileges to include row crops and livestock diversification, mobile slaughter facilities, tourist venues and — for the first time — the killing of Drakes Beach tule elk.
Clearly, these are serious, far-reaching matters of law, public policy and environmental protection. I think the District Court will hold the National Park Service to account.
— Deborah Moskowitz, San Anselmo
This project is independent and self-funded. The time and financial investment is significant. Support is greatly needed and appreciated.