The Commission approved the National Park Service’s Water Quality Strategy for Point Reyes National Seashore. The strategy was required to be completed as part of the Park’s General Management Plan, which was approved in April 2021. The Strategy is structured to use the results of inspections by the Regional Water Board and Marin County EHS to identify actions that need to be taken to improve water quality. The strategy calls for integration into Ranch Owning Agreements and short-term leases of action. It also proposes more frequent inspections of ranch sites and annual reporting, though falls short of committing to annual strategy updates.Several organizations, including Turtle Island Restoration Network and National Wildlife Federation, expressed concern that the Strategy will fail to hold polluters accountable - lacking a firm timeline for enforcement and penalty schedule. The plan fails to commit to achieving water quality standards and doesn't commit to a specific monitoring schedule or identify a funding mechanism.
Staff recommended approval but several Commissioners shared the publics’ concerns. Commissioner Caryl Hart proposed an amending motion to reopen the General Management Plan hearing and ensure new long term ranch leases were not signed until water quality issues were resolved. This motion failed and the Commission ultimately approved the Water Quality Strategy as submitted by the National Parks Service.
Why You Should Care
Private industry should never be allowed to pollute in the coastal zone. All industries must be held accountable, lest they continue to profit while destroying public land.
Negative Conservation Vote
Coastal Commission staff maintained that the Water Quality Strategy was a monumental improvement from the status quo in terms of data collection and more. Commissioner Mike Wilson pointed out that dairy ranching is a very intensive use of coastal prairies and that it is the Commission’s duty to protect coastal water quality. Commissioner Caryl Hart indicated that she would rather the Commission stay more involved, proposing an amendment to the motion to repeal the hearing and consider imposing restrictions on ranch lease terms to provide a mechanism for improving management practices and water quality. This motion failed and the Commission subsequently approved the Water Quality Strategy as submitted by the National Parks Service.
Turtle Island Restoration Network, National Wildlife Federation