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Future of Point Reyes National Seashore Up For Discussion

The future of Point Reyes National Seashore was up for debate Wednesday night, with one popular plan calling for the killing of some of the park’s beloved tule elk.

It’s not a popular plan with a lot of people.

During a crowded gathering in Sausalito, six plans were presented for the public to consider as park officials grapple with how to manage 28,000-plus acres of parkland.

Among the six plans, some would phase out ranching operations and some would phase out many of the elk. The park service's plan is a compromise.

"What we’re trying to do is walk that middle road, where ranching is a very important part of the national seashore and tule elk, which are native to California, are also really important," said Melanie Gunn of the National Park Service Outreach.

The park service plan, known as Alternative B, limits the tule elk herd at Drake’s Beach to 120, meaning about a dozen would be removed each year, dead or alive. There would be 20-year leases for ranchers who could raise more than just beef and dairy.

And more manure management.

"Now we are going to have pig farms, chicken farms, more pollution, more smells," Marin resident Roberto Reichard said.

Lis Collins of San Francisco added: "It just seems like the bottom line is more income. It’s not about necessarily protecting the space or protecting the tule elk."

Spiraleena Mason favors Alternative F, which phases out ranching over five years and leaves the elk alone.

"It’s really the choice that John Muir would have picked," Mason said. "It’s the choice that protects the water, the land, the wild nature, protects the tule elk." Public comments are being accepted until Sept. 23 on the park service website. A decision is expected early next year.

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