Category Archives: Letters to the Editor

Bikers riding illegally on horse trails in Park



There have been more bikers seen by horseback riders on

narrow footpaths/ hoof-paths (single track trails in biker lingo) at Point Reyes National Seashore in recent weeks. Last week I noticed eight on Horse Trail and Z Ranch Trail. This must mean they are also riding trails illegally in other Park lands too. Some of the bikes we saw were riding at extreme speeds past our horses. Luckily our seasoned trail horses rode it out. As prey animals horses have an innate fear of attack from the rear.


Dave Schifsky, the Chief Ranger at PRNS wants to know about this so he and his team can better patrol their trails. He asks that you to file a report so he can post rangers at the area. His email is below. Trail riders do not have to confront anyone! Just report them including the time, the day and the trail name.


Pt Reyes National Seashore

Bear Valley Dispatch

If there is an emergency Park Dispatch number is 911

David Schifsky, Chief Ranger at Bear Valley


tel: 464- 5175

Dispatch number: tel: 464-5170 (call this first)


Please do not assume someone else will. Please help us all by filing a report if you see illegal bikes on trail and don’t rely on just one or two people to file the reports. We don’t want to be left up a creek without a paddle!


Marina Eisenzimmer


The progressive left has failed us




As the great man once said, “it would take a heart of stone not to laugh out loud” at the full page declarations of existential angst coming from committed utopian progressives as they watch the almost two century old experiment in redistributive social justice crumble right before their eyes.


In an effort to explain this troubling phenomenon, techniques that became popular during the Stalinist and Maoist purges of the last century have been resurrected.


The indisputably neo-Marxist denizens of today’s faculty lounge have produced a spate of transparently biased academic studies seeking to prove the mental inferiority of those holding views that do not hew precisely to those of the politically correct, social justice warriors.


That approach has gained little traction, so now we have local speculation blaming some genetic mutation from millennia past for this otherwise inexplicable shift to the right.


It is never mentioned that for the last couple of centuries, the ratchet has always been turning to the progressive left, and some form of redistributive, socialist democracy is the default government all across the civilized world.


Yet the problem never seems to lie with the multicultural, utopian progressive political and social paradigm itself.


No, it is always that the human element or, at least certain less highly evolved segments of that human element who have failed the divinely inspired commitment to politically correct, environmentally hysterical, redistributive utopian progressivism, or have actively conspired to sabotage the program.


The simple truth is that people are turning to the common sense ideas of responsible adults, because the progressive left has had the run of the place for far too long, and has left a hell of a mess in their wake.


Not only do their schemes not work, they reliably produce results precisely the opposite of the original intent.


These unintended consequences and outright failures are becoming harder and harder to rationalize or explain away, and are being rejected despite the near saturation bombing level of indoctrination and propagandizing that flows in an endless stream from the media, academia and the political class.


The definition of insanity has been to keep doing the same thing, over & over again, while expecting a

different result.

From where I sit, I see exploding cigar after exploding cigar going off right in the kissers of members of a near religious cult, with little evidence that they will ever realize that the slick grifters handing them out really do not have their best interests at heart.
Paul Lesniak,
Stinson Beach

Begs to differ with Littleton’s views




I found John Littleton’s article in the last edition of the West Marin Citizen interesting. However, I differ with his explanation of the right-wing political swing. He posits a genetic shift to what he terms “Homo dominativus” from the older “homo sapiens”. I find genetic explanations a retreat from thinking and acting about our social and political arrangements.

Genetic explanations are a form of “medicalization” of a problem and, as such, are a form of domination and, eventually, may become a form of social control and domination. Read Huxley.

John’s retreat into genetics furthermore violates Occam’s razor, the scientific axiom that of a number of explanations, the simplest, which fits the facts, is most apt to be true. John, have you considered the growth of population and the subsequent demand upon lands and resources as an alternate explanation. With this growth come growing centralization and the usurping of power from everyday life. Just a thought to add to the conversation.


Paul Elmore,


Good reasons to be concerned about CA Dept. of Agriculture PEIR


Actions speak louder than words. California Department of Agriculture states in its response in the January 29th Citizen to criticisms of its PEIR that commenters have been “misled about plans for pest prevention and management”. However, CDFA’s past actions show that there is very good reason for concern.

One glaring example is in 2007 CDFA’s aerial sprayed the city of Santa Cruz with untested chemicals for the light brown apple moth. The harmful result to people’s health was well documented at the time by a local citizen, as CDFA was completely uninterested and unresponsive to the outcry from people whose health had been affected by the spraying.

Then in 2008 CDFA planned to aerial spray toxic chemicals for the light brown apple moth over the whole Bay Area and other cities in California monthly for seven years. This was called an emergency so that no EIR would be necessary. There was a huge outcry and massive protests in many forms by the public who were aware of what had happened in Santa Cruz.

I joined the Stop the Spray movement at the time and was witness to what happened. Finally, because of public protests, demanding an EIR and lawsuits, we were able to stop them.

After all that, no spraying took place and the apple moth turned out to be no problem. This says a lot about what it’s all about. The pesticide industries are major players in this agency.

These are blatant examples of their actions in the past and warnings about what could happen again. We need laws in place that make them accountable.

The deepest concern about this plan is that it allows an arsenal of 79 toxic chemicals, some of them highly dangerous, to be used anywhere in the state, any time into the indefinite future. The state can also approve new pesticide treatments and treatment sites behind closed doors without public scrutiny or notice.

CDFA have given themselves a mandate to do what they want when they want and, without notice or input, and we wouldn’t have a way to stop the potential threat to organic farmers, to us and our environment.

Careful scrutiny of the plan has lead to the formation of a lawsuit by a 12 organizations to protect the public. Please support these lawsuits that are about giving the public a choice in the matter.


Link to press release for the lawsuit:

Link to filing (53-page PDF):

Donate to PANNA:

To send a check:

Payable to Pesticide Action Network

Memo: CDFA PEIR litigation

Mail to: Pesticide Action Network

       1611 Telegraph Ave., Suite 1200

       Oakland CA 94612

You can donate tax-free to support our work.



Eleanor Lyman, Bolinas





The “Wave”

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…

And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.” Hunter S. Thompson from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 1971

The “Wave” coming ashore actually did leave some gifts washing in and one was the PRNSS. This was no hallucination dissolving into pop materialism and commodification but a tangible monument to the marriage of the practical and spiritual. It was shaped as an experiment of cooperative arms embracing something precious—contentious factions worked together to make a new vision of how to be in the natural world. It was a union of the Wildernistas and the Agriculturati. A National Park that made food, what an idea…perfectly suited to this very place. The ranches and oyster farm want to do a better job at harnessing nature’s gifts, lets help them instead of proving legalistic or scientific points. It’s been said that DBOC’s renewed lease would set a dangerous precedent. We are not talking about fracking in a National Park or, god forbid, something like the damming of Hetch Hetchy, but the engagement with our ancient connection to the ultimate solution to our problems, the ultimate solar power—making food that enhances our relation to the natural forces of the world…all you need is love.

Richard Lang

Forest Knolls

Published September 2013

Confessions of a Dragon Slayer


Confessions of a Dragon Slayer


The Yacht Club meeting was full of surprises for me.

Leaving lance and saber in my car, I decided to battle the dragon with my grandmother’s mantra “… Oh Lord help me keep my big mouth shut…” and repeated it frequently through out the well-run community meeting. Not a peep in that meeting.


The mantra first spoke in response to the 8,000′ rendering. Yikes! There was a moment of artistic appreciation for the design. I liked it; heresy…(I glanced around to see if anyone could tell), and held my tongue. Then there was the County’s mouthpiece (I’m so often cynical about ‘the County’), who turned out to be so much more, and illuminate quite well, the way things work ‘over there’ during the application process. Well-done Heidi!  I watched Heidi note taking through the meeting and left believing she actually values our input in her decision making process.


Another moment of tongue biting… on hearing about more acting out by some of us still believing vandalism is part of the dialogue. Why polarize by tearing down the story poles? old story; wrong story, bad press.


And finally, 8,000′ for a family gathering a few times a year…whoa…many of us have raised good sized families and convened extended family gatherings of 25 -50 people, in less than a quarter the size. In fact my family has had 4 sit down dinners for 50 in a less than 1000.’

Water waste, overwhelming size, the trees, light pollution… and distrust. And a cultural divide underpinning the whole mishegas.

Learning to live in a resource-depleting world has become a mantra to many of us…use less, buy less, be more, be here now (lightly), and leave no or little trace. We’ve migrated to or matured in West Marin with a sense of scale and consumption that is a touchstone for living our lives. We’re wealthy beyond belief when we look at the rest of the world, or even most of the country we live in.


Yet many of us who live here richly could not sell our homes and stay here, as our homes paid for our kids education, or our medical expenses, or our grand kids education and healthcare, and more. And our kids and the middle class whom we worked with in our careers, can’t afford to buy or find something to rent here. Nor can the young folks who work in and serve the community from baristas, to doctors.


The notion of a compound out of scale for the community is a metaphor for thinking out of tune with the community. While 8,000′ may seem small in a peer group of dragons, it dwarfs the shelters of our neighborhood, and community, and reflects an absence of local awareness.


I don’t really want to slay the dragon any more; just cut it down to a size where we’ll know he knows ‘…who the people are in his neighborhood.’

Rich Clarke,


What was the GGNRA thinking?



In Stinson Beach, Eskoot Creek currently flows northerly through the Golden Gate National Recreational Area’s (GGNRA) Park. Historically, Eskoot Creek flowed westerly, across what is now park- land, directly to the ocean. During a storm in February 2014, the creek flooded the park’s north parking lot and caused erosion damage at the northwest corner. The GGNRA’s repair configuration consisted of constructing two berms to prevent flow from exiting the park. The storm of December 11 again demonstrated that the creek will seek the shortest outlet to the ocean. The creek flooded the north parking lot and because of the new berms, the water had no place to go except to flood and damage the park’s northerly neighbors on Calle Del Pinos. Subsequently, the GGNRA breached one of the berms and the flood waters receded.


Marin County is advocating a special election in March, 2015, to create a district for constructing flood prevention improvements along Eskoot Creek. The financial impact will be an annual assess- ment of $250 per parcel for 20 years. There are a number of options that are proposed including dredging Eskoot Creek and bypassing storm flows through the GGNRA north parking lot. Although improvements are needed, the latter is the only viable option as it will prevent flooding on the down- stream properties, negate the cost of annual maintenance to Eskoot Creek, and will eliminate a primary source of siltation to the Bolinas Lagoon.


Marius Nelsen.

Stinson Beach, CA


How not to build consensus




At the Ranch Plan Workshop last night in Point Reyes Station sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and other groups, Nita and Will Vail told the story of how their family ranching operation on Santa Rosa Island was ended about 7 years before their lease with the NPS expired.  Their tale followed the talk by Tim Setnicka, given on October 23, in which Tim portrayed the NPS as bringing in various State and Federal agencies to harass the Vail ranch with environmental quality demands (water quality, species protection). Nita and Will did not repeat these details, but instead looked forward in time and recommended to the audience of local ranchers and others that, to improve the ranches’ position in the park planning, we need to:

1. Find a leader to bring people together.

2. Identify the objectives of the NPS in the Seashore and try to show that ranching can help to meet some of them.  These are sensible suggestions.


Their talk was then followed by a Q&A period. Corey Goodman denounced Neil Desai of the National Parks Conservation Association for suing the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and hastening their demise.  He also demanded that Neil, in the audience, take an oath that his organization would not sue the ranchers in the Seashore or the NPS to restrict ranching operations.  Corey and an attorney who had represented the Oyster Co. in their efforts to extend their lease had suggested that environmental groups take such an oath in their op ed piece in the Light on November 11.  Neil said that Corey was being “ridiculous.”  Many in the audience urged Neil to respond to this out of order challenge from Goodman.  Neil then spoke briefly, stating that his organization supported ranching in the park. This was only the warm up, however.  Phyllis Faber then spoke, saying that Neil “had always been an A-hole,” referring I presume, to the Oyster Co. struggle.  Neil did not respond to this provocation.  From all this, it seemed to me that the meeting was a set-up to defame Mr. Desai.


I have extensive experience in meetings with opposing interest groups concerning urban transportation lawsuits in which I was an expert for the environmental side, and have never seen such counterproductive and insulting behavior.  This display of emotional outbursts by two leading citizens can only damage the reputation of the ranchers in the park and the Chamber.  It is obvious that damning your opponents, especially in public, will not lead to consensus on issues being contested.  The meeting was televised and will be on local radio, too, as well as in the local papers.


I suggest that future meetings on this issue be chaired by someone with experience and that the rules be agreed on at the start.  Speakers who will not be positive should be cut off and invited to leave.  Otherwise, meetings degenerate and are not productive.


Referring to the Vail’s recommendations, the ranchers clearly need better leadership and they also need to get over the last war and focus on the NPS’ objectives in the upcoming Ranch Plan.


Robert A. Johnston, Emeritus Professor, U.C.

Goodman and Prows speak out after Nita Vail meeting




Last week, in the Point Reyes Light (reprinted here), we asked Neal Desai of the National Park Conservation Association and Amy Trainer of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin to ‘take the pledge’, to promise to the community that “neither I nor any organization I am a part of will ever participate in legal action to eliminate or restrict the ranches on Point Reyes.” We asked because in the late 1990’s, Mr. Desai and his organization (NPCA) successfully sued the National Park Service based on the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act to get rid of the Vails’ ranch on Santa Rosa Island (aka Cowboy Island).


This past Tuesday evening, Nita Vail spoke to the community, and cautioned us that what happened at Cowboy Island could happen here. Mr. Desai was in the audience. During the Q&A period, one of us (CG) asked Mr. Desai to take the pledge. His answer, which should be a wake up call to the community, was to say that such a request was “ridiculous.” That single word makes the many words from Mr. Desai and Ms. Trainer in support of agriculture just that — hollow words.


Corey Goodman, Marshall

Peter Prows, Attorney and partner with Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP of San Francisco, the firm who represented the Lunny family. He writes this as a personal statement


And the beat goes on…….



Welcome to show biz, Mr. Schultz.


Having someone point out that you are frolicking in history’s dustbin actually does come with the territory.


I have long since passed the point of being intimidated by those prone to scolding everyone around them for not being intelligent, compassionate or exquisitely environmentally sensitive enough.


You seem surprised that people resist being told they don’t know what is best for them, and that they need to make do with less and like it that way.


If you are trying to sell an idea, insulting the intelligence, character and motivations of those who don’t subscribe to your vision seems like a piss poor way to do it.


Because of that aspect of your confrontational style, I’m not sure that it is possible to reconcile our positions.


Mine is fairly simple.


It is one of optimistic, cornucopian, libertarian leaning conservatism.


I believe that government is a necessary evil, but still fundamentally corruptible and evil, and as such should be limited to its core functions and kept as small and unobtrusive as possible.


I believe that we should be taking advantage of ALL sources of cheap and abundant energy, and that the benefits to society far outweigh the manageable risks.


I know that virtually all of the environmental panics that have come down the pike since Rachel Carson discovered that a comfortable living can be made by promoting them have been wrong, often spectacularly and sometimes catastrophically.


I believe that wallowing in collective guilt is a self serving and transparently fascist concept.


Finally. I know that things have never been better for more people in the history of the planet, and the future could be much brighter, if only pessimistic, morally superior, busy body do-gooders would mind their own business.


Paul Lesniak

Stinson Beach





To the editor:


Thanks so much to the wonderful people who attended the Food Pantry Benefit Dinner last weekend.  West Marin Community Services (WMCS) is so inspired by the support from this caring community for our daily Food Pantry and for the people who use it.


Sasha Abramsky gave a masterful presentation on poverty in America today, and Socorro Romo brought it home with local numbers.  With a snapshot comparison of the busiest month each year, Socorro noted that in March, 2010, we served 87 families/275 individuals; in March, 2014, we served 135 families/317 individuals.  This is a significant increase despite the fact that two new pantries opened in our service area during that time (Tomales and Bolinas, though only a few hours a week).


Socorro also highlighted some of the gaps in service – a need for more protein and dairy products, as well as more variety and freshness in vegetables.  Both Sasha and Socorro spoke about the loneliness and isolation poverty brings and how welcome anyone and everyone is at WMCS.


To all those who asked how you can help:  think of the food pantry when you’re shopping and get some items to drop off at WMCS (canned tuna, peanut butter, yogurt, cheese) and donate what you can to help us sustain the program.


Thank you for your compassion.  And thank you to Point Reyes Books, all our local media, Zuma, Good Earth Natural Foods, and the local cooks who prepared the food for this event.


Pamela Campe, President

Wendy Friefeld, Executive Director

WMCS Board of Directors


Sarah Rolph on Public Scoping

Rolph defends rehash

Ed Nute calls my piece “Weaponizing NEPA” a rehash. That was by design; the repetition seemed necessary to fully make my point that the Park Service at Point Reyes seems to be using the same dirty-tricks playbook against the ranchers that it used against the oyster farmers.

The second half of the story contained new information:  My analysis of the public scoping comments on the Ranch CMP, over half of which were generated by a coordinated effort and sent in by people who have almost certainly never heard of either West Marin or the Ranch CMP. Over 1500 people were duped into believing that greedy ranchers in a national park somewhere are trying to kill off the wildlife.

Instead of setting aside these clearly irrelevant comments, the Park Service tallied them in a report and released it to the public. Just as it did with the 45,000 non-substantive comments about the DBOC Draft EIS–until the very end of the process, when those same comments were quietly discarded, categorized as non-substantive as the law requires.

Abuse of power by a federal agency is not something that should be swept under the rug. If it disturbs anyone’s “healing” process to read about this, I recommend skipping my op-eds. I don’t plan to shut up any time soon.

Sarah Rolph
Carlisle, MA