• lcunningham58

Fenced Tule Elk Herd at Point Reyes National Seashore Lacks Water and Escape Route from Fires

In a disturbing replay of National Park Service (NPS) neglect, the Park Service has once again allowed old stock ponds to go dry in the Tomales Point Elk Reserve.  While the Woodward fire brings intense heat and threatens these captive animals, the elk are without their essential water sources and remain fenced in with no escape should the fire change directions.   At least six elk have been found dead in the past 3 weeks. The water ponds in the Elk Reserve are essential because there are no perennial streams.  During the drought of 2011-2015 approximately 250 out of 500 elk died for lack of water in this reserve.  After the die off, Park Service official Dave Press stated that “the seashore is developing a plan to truck water to an easily accessible pond if it runs dry again in the future.”[1] To date, no water has been provided for the elk.  When asked about the water supply for these elk, NPS argues that the Elk can access water through a seep which is flowing now, however, its flow is decreasing and the pool at the beach is extremely shallow.  Furthermore, the NPS has determined that the elk don’t use the seep during the daytime, likely because of its topography and the fact that there are people on both the trail and the nearby beach all day. The situation is dire.  NPS policy prohibits holding wild animals captive long term and yet these elk continue to be penned in.  The Park Service has an obligation to provide adequate water (and food) for these captive elk.   “If you’re going to hold them captive, then you have an obligation to keep them alive,” observed James Coda, a retired NPS attorney and Point Reyes photographer.  In a reply to numerous requests to fill the pond and remove the fences, NPS officials have given their assurance that “...If needed, a contingency plan is in place to provide water to the elk in the southern portion of the reserve.”  This contingency plan IS needed and soon.  However, this does not remedy the problem of these elk being held captive nor does it assure that all of the herds in this area will have adequate water for the hottest months on record. Concerned citizens are urged to contact NPS officials immediately asking that the water ponds in ALL areas of the Tomales Elk Reserve be filled and maintained and that the fence be removed so that these elk will not be trapped by the ensuing fires. PLEASE CALL, EMAIL AND SHARE THIS MESSAGE: Pacific Regional Director Woody Smeck                          National Park Service  333 Bush St., Suite 500 San Francisco, CA 94104-2828    Email:, Tel: 415-623-2100 Acting Superintendent Carey Feierabend 1 Bear Valley Road Point Reyes Station, CA 94 Email: 415 464-5102 [1] _____________________________________________________________  IN THE NEWS PRNS featured on The Project Censored Radio Show Listen here: How Do Private Interests Maintain Control over Public Land? Join Mickey Huff and his guests to explore the example of Point Reyes National Seashore in California, where commercial ranches and dairies still operate, despite being bought out after the park’s creation in 1962. Also in the conversation, how can national parks be made more welcoming and accessible to communities of color?

Mickey’s guests are: Mark Bartolini, a disaster-relief specialist, and a former executive director of the Point Reyes National Seashore Association. He writes on public-health and parks, and their connection to social equity. Laura Cunningham is the CA Director of Western Watersheds Project and founder of Point Reyes Rewilding Network. This radio program was aired on 40 stations nationwide on July 31, 2020 Recent Articles and Letters to the Editor Tule Elk at Center of Epic Conservation Battle on Pt Reyes Seashore  Shoshi Parks for Roadtrippers Magazine Disservice to the Community - Rely on Science Instead  Sarah Killingsworth Park Service Ignores Public Health Risk of Cattle Disease at Seashore  Deborah Moskowitz What can you do?  Get informed so that you can speak out to protect and restore the scenic and natural beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore and ensure full public access for generations to come. If you have questions or would like to be part of the Action Group, email WATCH: The Shame of Point Reyes - Feature Film by Skyler Thomas PREVIOUS WEBINARS: To view recorded webinars, see: ____________________________________________________________

Thank you for caring about our National Seashore! 

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