An important alternative to seriously consider for how Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area are managed into the future, is a gradual restoration of the livestock zone back to its native plant vegetation and habitat for native animal species. At present, only relict areas of native coastal prairie exist. These relicts hang on in areas that cattle do not access, whether because these are on pasture edges too far from dairy operations, or because they are outside fenced pastures along roadsides or other small exclusions.
Tule elk should be allowed to naturally return to these restoring native plant communities. All relict native grassland patches should be inventoried by the park, mapped, and fully protected from all livestock grazing and disturbance. These can be used as reference sites and seed sources for future restoration efforts. Using standard native plant restoration techniques, these reference sites can be used to increase plants for plantings and re-seedings using local genetic sources, to disturbed areas of the Pastoral Zone where livestock impacts have removed the native plant communities and caused soil removal and erosion.
In California introduced annual grasslands--which currently dominate the Pastoral Zone--continuing disturbance causes declines in palatable species and an increase in non-native early seral weed species. Livestock grazing must be removed to allow the recovery and increase of sensitive coastal prairie and wet meadow species. After native herbaceous plant communities have begun to take a foothold in impacted livestock pastures, and are increasing and well on the way to recovery, methods for balancing coyote bush and bush lupine can be considered.
Prescribed cultural fire methods and tule elk grazing can maintain coastal prairie and other native plant communities in restored areas. Less than one percent of California's native grassland is still intact today. The ideal conservation strategy is to collect seed from local grasses, send it to a nursery, and have it grown out on a landscape scale to create a supply for restoration projects. This is being done in the East Bay. It is long past time for Point Reyes National Seashore to be fully restored.
Remove the 300-plus miles of barbed wire fences, and restore access to these public lands with new trails.
Restore tribal cultural management to these lands, and restore Indigenous access to areas such as Felix Cove.
Together, we can Restore the Shore!