Tag Archives: Ranchers Association

Baffling letter appears on social media, information hard to get.

In a July 25, letter addressed to Ted McIsaac, President, Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association twelve ranchers representing six or seven ranches on the Seashore wrote:

“Dear Ted,
Thank you for listening to our concerns about the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association. We, the undersigned, hereby resign from The Association effective immediately.
It has become increasingly evident that our styles of communication in matters pertinent to the Point Reyes National Seashore are very different. This was most recently evidenced by the letter dated July 21, 2014, which was sent on behalf of The Association to Superintendent Muldoon and various elected officials. We felt that we had inadequate time to review and respond and consider the implications of such a letter being sent.
We realize it is difficult to maintain cohesiveness in a group as diverse as the Association. We appreciate all of the efforts of those creating and maintaining the Association over the past several years. However, we feel it is in the best interest of all the ranchers if we left the group.” This letter was signed by Robert McClure, Tim Kehoe, Thomas Kehoe, Mike Kehoe, Daniel and Dolores Evans, Julie Rossotti, David Evans, Betty Nunes, Joe Mendoza (now retired from running L&B ranches), and Robert Giacomini and Elmer Martinelli (who both have small pasture grazing leases on Seashore land).”

This letter began circulating on social media two weeks ago.
The Citizen has attempted to learn what motivated this surprising move, coming so soon after a recent show of unity and consensus in the Ranchers Association’s scoping comments on the new General Management Plan for the Seashore.

The Citizen spoke with McIsaac who expressed disappointment in the resignations but assured us that the majority of ranches remained committed to the Association. He did not offer any specific reasons for the decision but did mention the concern many ranchers feel over the future of ranching in the Seashore and the importance of maintaining a good relationship with local Park personnel.

McIsaac also spoke of problems that several ranches are having with free-ranging elk, and the frustration that no immediate solutions are being offered by the Park Service. McIsaac and Kevin Lunny, who also spoke with the Citizen, indicated possible “political” motives and differences in priorities of the signees compared to other members of the Association., such as the resigning ranchers not having the problems with elk other ranchers are coping with.

Both expressed disappointment over the split, coming from life-long friends and fellow-ranchers. “We think we’re stronger if we can be unified, and we were,” said Lunny. McIsaac echoed similar thoughts. “We still think it’s a very useful organization. It’s a tool to meet and keep each other up on what’s happening…All the people who’ve been active for a decade are still active. Our commitment to help everyone in the seashore is still here.”

Mr. Lunny said the ranchers who resigned didn’t give the association an opportunity to discuss the issue before they gave the letter to Mr. McIsaac.

The Citizen welcomes comments and information from other ranchers and the public on this matter.
Linda Petersen-Publisher

 

 

Ranchers letter to Seashore Wednesday July 23, 2014

Below is a letter Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association members hand delivered on Wednesday to National Seashore Superintendent Cicely Muldoon regarding buildings at the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

 

Dear Superintendent Muldoon,

The Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association is writing to inquire about the plans of the National Park Service for the buildings located at the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. We are concerned that the Park Service may intend to demolish the retail sales building after July 31, 2014, and the worker residences at some later date. These buildings can provide significant benefit to the association members. They should not be demolished before their future use can be considered as part of the Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan Environmental Assessment process. While that process is pending, the buildings should be used on an interim basis to benefit the ranchers and the public.

After the oyster farm leaves, the retail sales building should be used to provide retail and educational opportunities for the ranchers, and to provide clean bathrooms and running water for the kayakers and other public visitors who visit Drakes Estero and use the running water to clean off themselves and their boats. After the oyster farm workers leave, the worker residences should be used as residences for workers at the Seashore ranches.

The concerns about the oyster farm, which were centered on wilderness policy, are not applicable to these buildings, which are not in wilderness or potential wilderness areas. Even the section of Schooner Bay adjacent to the buildings is not wilderness or potential wilderness. Grazing occurs on and around the building site.

As the association explained in its scoping letter for the Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan Environmental Assessment, there is a need to establish new on-farm retail opportunities, including the preparation and sale of local food items. (PRSRA scoping letter, sections 3a,viii). There is also a need for a location at which the public can learn about the history of the ranches. Ample septic system capacity and abundant water delivered by a certified public water system currently exist for the five housing units and the retail building. Adequate parking, public restrooms, walk in refrigeration and health department approval also exist for small scale food processing, storage and sales. It would require extensive permitting and construction to replicate these ranch assets elsewhere in the seashore. Here, only upgrades would be required.

The Seashore also allows other commercial uses at this site, including guided kayak trips. Presumably, the park will continue to allow this use. Currently, the kayakers and other visiting public regularly use the fully equipped public restrooms in the retail building. It seems appropriate to allow both compatible permitted commercial uses to continue on site.

The five housing units can be used for housing workers at the Seashore ranches. As the assocation explained in its scoping letter, there is a need for housing for these workers. (PRSRA scoping letter, section 3a, x). Building new housing for the ranch workers would be difficult, time- consuming, and expensive. Once the current residents have left, the units should be used for ranch workers.

The Seashore has publicly stated its commitment to the continuation of the ranches within the seashore. The assocation has made it clear to the National Park that these uses are vital to the long term viability of the ranches. Allowing these buildings to remain to continue to provide benefit to the ranches as they have in the past, to allow a transition from oyster worker housing to ranch worker housing, to transition from oyster processing to local value added farm product processing and to re-focus the interpretive services at the site to focus on history and sustainability of the working ranches located in working landscapes of Point Reyes National Seashore would help demonstrate the park’s commitment to the viability of the ranches.

Sincerely, Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association

Cc: US Senator Dianne Feinstein, US Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Jared Huffman, Assembly Member Marc Levine, Supervisor Steve Kinsey