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Happy 60th Birthday, Point Reyes National Seashore!

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Happy 60th Birthday, Point Reyes National Seashore
Elk on California Coast at Point Reyes ©Sarah Killingsworth


Dear Friends and Supporters, 

Through persistence, political activism, and your committed support, Resource Renewal Institute (RRI) and our coalition partners are turning the tide at Point Reyes. In the 1960s, our founder Huey Johnson protected much of the coastland that would become this magnificent national park. In the years that followed the park’s creation, we have worked to fully realize the vision of its founders – “to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration, a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped.”

As you know, it hasn’t been easy.

But things are changing at Point Reyes. The Restore Point Reyes Seashore coalition and its campaign of public education, citizen oversight and government engagement has transformed a little-known, under-the-radar concern into a major public issue. One year ago this week our coalition organized the first “Turning Point for Point Reyes” rally at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, and nearly 400 community leaders and park advocates joined us. In the year that has followed, we have seen unprecedented progress toward accountability among agencies responsible for safeguarding human and environmental health at Point Reyes, especially the California Coastal Commission (CCC), the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Marin County Environmental Health Services.

Marin IJ Cartoon from 9/12/2022 © George RusselImage Credit: George Russel, Marin Independent Journal

California Coastal Commission: A frustrated CCC ups the ante.

For a number of years, RRI has been working closely with the CCC, earning their trust by providing them with factual, well-researched information gathered from government publications, correspondence with park goers, independent professional water quality testing, and documents and e-mails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and the California Public Records Act. Park visitors identified ranch violations that included garbage dumping, bulldozing of sensitive riparian habitat, and sewage spills, which led to the discovery of an alarming lack of septic tanks at ranch worker home sites. All this on top of the tragic 2021 die-off of hundreds of fenced-off native Tule Elk deprived of nearby food and water. 

At the September 7 CCC hearing that the RRI team attended in Pismo Beach, it was obvious that the Commissioners had had enough. Commissioners were critical of NPS’s strategy for improving water quality at Point Reyes and requested additional oversight of park staff, requiring annual reporting. By a 6-5 vote, the commissioners narrowly approved the amended water quality strategy with modifications requested by RRI and our partners. The Commissioners made it clear that the Park Service was on thin ice. Should the NPS fail to take corrective action in the coming months, the CCC is in a position to withdraw its conditional concurrence for the Park Service’s plan.

The bottom line: it is not customary for the CCC to take on the Park Service as directly and forcefully as it has for the Seashore. This turning point is a direct result of the effectiveness of the Restore Point Reyes coalition – now representing over a hundred environmental, social justice, and animal rights organizations with millions of members and supporters – for helping to create this enormous change.

Tule Elk: the Killing of a Native Species - Rose Foundation Graphic

On-screen activism: Rose Foundation accepts our Tule elk film for its 2022 Grassroots Film Fest.

A generous funder of RRI’s work at Point Reyes, The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment has also honored our documentary Tule Elk: The Killing of a Native Species as one of 39 selections for its 2022 Grassroots Film Fest. You can stream all the films through September 29. 

As described by the Foundation, the film is “…a beautifully-shot expose of an in-progress extermination of a species in our neighboring Pt. Reyes National Seashore. It’s also the story of the attempts to exterminate centuries of indigenous culture and history with a few decades of good ol’ American ‘cattle culture.’  This is an actionable issue that needs support now.”

The Grassroots Film Fest is the latest of nearly a dozen festivals that have selected our powerful 8-minute film for screening. These include the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Sonoma Film Festival and the Wild and Scenic Film Festival.  

Moving ahead on all fronts.

Buoyed by this summer’s progress and recognition, we feel more encouraged than ever that our consistent, multi-pronged strategy will ultimately lead to the restoration of Point Reyes.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our vision to protect and restore Point Reyes National Seashore.

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