Forum on elk dilemma planned

04/17/2014

An expert panel will discuss the economic impact of tule elk on seashore ranches at a public forum hosted by the West Marin Chamber of Commerce on May 1, at 7 p.m. at the Dance Palace Community Center. The park introduced the elk into the park’s unfenced wilderness zone in 1998 but some subsequently migrated to the pastoral zone, lured by fresh forage and water. The chamber is holding the event because of concerns that the elk have “created an unexpected and unnecessary economic hardship on the ranchers within the Park boundaries, causing those ranchers sufficient impacts that threaten their continued existence,” it said. Many in the agricultural community and other officials have been invited: two ranchers, Nicola Spaletta and Gino Lucchesi, who run ranches where elk eat forage and drink from reservoirs meant for cows; the agricultural commissioner of Marin County, Stacy Carlsen; Supervisor Steve Kinsey; Assemblyman Marc Levine; Laura Watt, a professor of environmental studies and planning at Sonoma State University; and seashore superintendent Cicely Muldoon. The Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association has asked the park to relocate the elk back to the wilderness zone, but the park has said its current management plan does not give them the authority to do so, a matter of disagreement that has gone on for years. The seashore is planning to undertake a ranching and dairying management plan that will include provisions on how to manage elk in the seashore’s pastoral zone.