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Program Information
 TUC Radio 
 George Wuerthner’s historic exposé of the destruction of the American West by cattle grazing
 Weekly Program
 George Wuerthner
 Maria Gilardin  
 For non-profit use only.
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- And the shocking decision by the National Park Service in September 2021 to continue and even expand beef and dairy cattle grazing in the popular Seashore - just north of San Francisco on the unceded land of the Coast Miwok.

Cattle grazing should have ended there in the late 1980s. The area had become a National Park by an act of Congress in 1962 and the existing ranches were bought out at market rate with taxpayer funds. The ranchers were given 25 years to find new land and vacate. Instead they expanded the herds, and used political clout in Senate and Congress to extend the leases.

The biologist, former BLM employee, author/editor of Welfare Ranching George Wuerthner deplored the September 2021 decision. Not only will the cow herds continue, ranchers will now be allowed to also raise pigs and chickens, plant row corps and open up Bed & Breakfasts. And they will be allowed to kill the Native Tule Elk herd if they grow above the arbitrarily set number of 140 for the Drakes Beach herd. Point Reyes Seashore is the only national park where Tule Elk exist.

George Wuerthner wrote: “Point Reyes was a spectacular landscape of open prairies and patches of woodlands, home to 460 species, 876 plants, and many different marine and terrestrial mammals. In addition, it harbors a hundred listed rare, threatened, and endangered species, an incredible diversity given the seashore’s relatively small size. This biological diversity prompted UNESCO in 1988 … to designate Point Reyes as an international biosphere reserve.”

“Among the impacts caused by the ongoing livestock operations is the trampling and pollution of the park’s waterways, increased soil erosion, and the spread of exotic weeds. Indeed, one stream in the park has some of the highest coliform bacteria counts found along the entire California coast.”

This plan is in direct violation of the law creating the national seashore. The legislation requires that Point Reyes National Seashore “shall be administered by the Secretary without impairment of its natural values … “

And this is where matters stand at the end of September 2021. The matter is headed to the courts and hopes are high that the National Park Service will be found in violation of the legislative mandate to protect the park’s natural values and be made to vacate this plan.

Almost seventeen years earlier, I met George Wuerthner a few miles south of Point Reyes in the Marin Headlands. He gave a talk that moved and surprised me and changed my understanding of cattle ranching.

The book, Welfare Ranching, had just been released. He is co-author and editor. In essays and photos Welfare Ranching reveals the practices that are ripping apart the ecological fabric of the arid West. Subsidized livestock grazing occurs on more than 300 million acres of publicly owned land. Taxpayer dollars are used to turn the West into a giant feedlot for cattle and sheep. That in turn causes the slaughter of predators, raises the number of endangered species, pollutes rivers and streams, and increases soil erosion, and weed invasion.

Wuerthner is an ecologist, author of many books and papers, photographer, wild-lands advocate, and university instructor. I recorded him in December 2004 on the Marin Headlands.

 210921_welfare_ranching_point_reyes Download Program Podcast
00:29:30 English 2004-12-15
 Marin Headlands
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210921_welfare_ranching_point_reyes  00:29:00  192Kbps mp3
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