anyplace in San Francisco or south, they were
told to go to Palomarin Trailhead,” Dell’Osso
explains. “ We had to contact Google and ask, ‘can
you direct people to Bear Valley instead?’ ”
Now a new fight is brewing over ranching
operations. Dairy and cattle ranching have
a long history here, and the legislation that
established the seashore allowed it to con-
tinue. Ranching draws support both from area
politicians and from groups like the Marin
Agriculture Land Trust. But a trio of envi-
ronmental groups — the Resource Renewal
Institute, the Western Watersheds Institute
and the Center for Biological Diversity — have
brought suit against the park service, arguing
that in the 21st century ranching may no longer
be the best use of the land.
The person in the hot seat over these issues
is park superintendent Cecily Muldoon. She
has an unusual perspective on Point Reyes.
While her park service career has taken her
all over the country, she grew up in Sausalito
— so coming here was a homecoming. Even
the controversies, she says, have their upsides.
“One thing you don’t find in Marin is apathy
over public lands. It’s good to have a lot of
passion around the parks, even when people
disagree. Whatever one’s position on any sub-
ject might be, it’s rooted in the love for this
IF YOU’RE LOOKING to experience evening at
its most beautiful, a good place is on a kayak in
Tomales Bay. The dusk light is different from the
morning’s, with a soft mist blurring the bay, the
calm shoreline and the forested slopes of Mount
Vision — not Constable so much as Monet.
We’re on a Blue Waters Kayaking trip led by
guide Liz Wilhelm. She’s proof of the passion
that Point Reyes can inspire — she has the out-
line of the peninsula tattooed on her calf.
“Paddle now,” she says to the novice kayaker
in the front of her boat. She says to be on the
lookout for rays in the water and waterbirds
like diving ducks.
You paddle, you peer, you think that if any
place deserved to be commemorated with a tattoo it’s this one. All the congressional fights,
the arguments over oysters and cows were
about this: the water, the shoreline, the distant
mountain. You think, you may want to return
tomorrow. And that when you do Point Reyes
seashore will still be there. m
The National Park System looks
at the the next hundred years.
The National Park System celebrates its 100th
birthday this month. But the NPS — and all the
people and groups who love and use national
parks — are also asking questions about what the
parks’ priorities for the next century should be.
These are the most important trends.
Make Parks More Relevant Traditionally, the
prime audience for national parks has been white,
middle class and middle aged. That no longer
reflects California or the U. S., says Scott Gediman,
chief public information officer at Yosemite. “It’s
our responsibility to reach out to the next generation — to show them the value of parks. Otherwise,
there’s no guarantee parks will still be protected.”
One organization working hard to reach out is
San Francisco–based NatureBridge, which offers
educational programs in many California national
parks. In Yosemite, its WildLink program takes
kids from underserved populations and leads
them on weeklong treks into the Sierra back-country. “These are kids who haven’t been to a
national park before, haven’t hiked before,” says
Yosemite NatureBridge Director Kristina Rylands.
“We provide all the gear and the food and they
go out with our educators for a week. We want to
connect them with the values of wilderness.”
Citizen Science Parks are vital centers for environmental research and now, more than ever,
ordinary citizens are helping out. “Citizen science
has become a very powerful way for people without advanced training to help save nature,” says
San Francisco environmental writer Mary Ellen
Hannibal, whose book Citizen Scientist: Searching
for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction comes
out this month. The California Academy of
Sciences sponsors programs in many Northern
California parks, using its iNaturalist mobile app.
Restore, Restore, Restore Some of the best park
news comes when the park service fixes damage done in the past. At Point Reyes National
Seashore, restoration of the Giacomini Wetlands
has increased the population of shorebirds like
the least sandpiper; directors hope the seashore’s current dune restoration project will have
equally beneficial effects. In Yosemite, restoration of the iconic Mariposa Grove of sequoias is
scheduled for completion next year.