Coastal Commission Okays Dirty Business-As-Usual Cattle Ranching at Point Reyes

Coastal Commission Okays Dirty Business-As-Usual Cattle Ranching at Point Reyes

For those of you who’ve been following the ongoing wild Tule elk vs. for-profit cattle ranching saga at Point Reyes Seashore, here’s what happened at last Thursday’s, Sept. 8, 2022, California Coastal Commission meeting. The National Park Service is still bent on selling the Commission (and us) its atrocious General Management Plan for the park, which leaves polluting commercial ranch operations up and ruining. 

The meeting ran about seven hours long, a dramatic, exciting, maddening mix of political theater, some passionate soliloquies and hours of vague promises, confusing conditions, and lots of it’s-all-fine-trust-us-isms.

Take note: water pollution is now front and center only because citizen scientists, volunteers, and activist groups, including In Defense of Animals, did two years of independent surface water quality testing at the Seashore. Meanwhile, the National Park Service strategized and ranchers kept polluting, as usual.


On April 2, 2022, In Defense of Animals and Tree Spirit Project held a hazardous waste walk at Point Reyes National Seashore. You can learn more here.


The Park Service ended its own water testing a decade ago, presumably because it’s easier to dodge controversy, enforcement, and remediation if you collect no evidence of a crime. The crime in this case being massive, ongoing water pollution of a national park by an industry dumping millions of gallons per year of manure from cattle.

A big picture reminder: this is a long-term battle to change U.S. federal government policy regarding the almighty cattle industry’s chokehold on D.C. politicians, policymakers, and federal lands. It’s bigger than just freeing suffering and dying Tule elk who are kept in a lethal, fenced “Tule Elk Reserve.” The poor elk are just a painfully obvious and heart-wrenching symptom of the cattle industry disease afflicting our nation’s land, water, and atmosphere.

The verdict came after all the political machinations were done, with a torturous, almost evenly split 6-to-5 vote. The Commission voted to approve the park’s New! Improved! plan for continuing ranching, water pollution and all. 

The new water quality plan is toothless, lacking: 

1) the necessary quantity of rigorous, expensive water quality tests;
2) specific violation enforcement triggers — and; 
3) the budget to pay for it all.

It’s a vague, unenforceable, and inadequate watered-down water plan, a bureaucrat’s dream.

The heroes acting for clean water and Tule elk.

There were 6 “yes” votes to the awful plan allowing ranch pollution to continue (villains):

(Chair) Donne Brownsey
Steve Padilla
Katie Rice
Mike Wilson
Meagan Harmon
Roberto Uranga

There were 5 “no” votes to continuing ranch pollution (heroes):

Caryl Hart
Dayna Bochco
Sara Aminzadeh
Carole Groom
Linda Escalante

But from all this comes our resolve — stronger than ever — to keep at it. To turn up the heat on these polluting industries which are heating the planet, and exploiting billions of innocent animals worldwide. We know you are with us, and we look forward to meeting you in the field.