The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Maria Cantwell
Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators Murkowski and Cantwell,

I am writing to you on behalf of over 1,600 members of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition). As a group, we collectively represent more than 35,000 years of national park management experience. We believe that our national parks and related public lands represent the very best of America, and advocate for effective and collaborative stewardship of them.

We are writing to you and your colleagues in the House and Senate to urge suspension of further action on H.R. 6687, a bill that would circumvent established processes and mandate that the National Park Service issue long-term leases to continue commercial cattle ranching operations in Point Reyes National Seashore and the northern portion of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. We urge that any additional legislative action regarding this very challenging issue be postponed so that collaborative processes that have long been the hallmark of resolving such differences in Point Reyes National Seashore be completed.

Many of our members served as rangers and managers at Point Reyes National Seashore over the decades since it was established by Congress in 1962. By virtue of countless formal and informal meetings with area ranchers, public officials, environmentalists, local and Federal planners, etc. these individuals participated in the often challenging task of finding “win-win” solutions to a nearly endless list of issues affecting the future of this park. The capacity of local people to talk and resolve differences in a respectful fashion is among our best memories of working at the Seashore.

The National Park Service has begun a comprehensive planning process to address the most recent controversy at the Seashore – resolving growing conflict between beef and dairy ranchers traditionally authorized to operate in the Seashore and expansion of the re-introduced herds of Tule Elk. This planning effort is based on a multi-party settlement agreement regarding this issue among several plaintiffs from the environmental community, the National Park Service, the ranchers, and Marin County officials. This settlement reinforces our belief that local and regional interests can find common ground, and eventually agreement, about how to move forward. This planning process will be comprehensive, and will invite feedback from the full range of interested parties that cares most about the future of a place they fought to preserve over 50 years ago. This planning process will comply with all pertinent mandates of the National Environmental Policy Act, which require identification of alternatives and comprehensive analyses of each. The outcome will be a decision that, most likely, will not be a complete “win” for any position. Rather, it will be an outcome that finds a way to accommodate positions and aspirations of all.

H.R. 6687, if passed and signed into law, will prevent such a process and such an outcome. It will deny the various stakeholders and the public the opportunity to participate in the future of their park. It will create winners and losers rather than solutions.

Again, the purpose of this letter is to urge that the full range of public interests regarding this issue be heard and addressed during the planning process now just beginning. We anticipate calling upon the various lessons and perspectives gained by our members over the past decades to inform our comments during that process. Such an outcome will be denied if this ill-timed and inappropriate legislation is enacted into law prior to the completion of the planning process.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Philip A. Francis, Jr., Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
201 I Street, NE #805, Washington, DC 20002

Cc: Senators Feinstein and Harris; Representative Huffman