Recent comments

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I've been an avid railroad enthusiast since I was able to walk, having grown up along the maintenance feeder siding of the main AT&SF yard in the country. I'm also a member of the NMRA, have an expansive working 1920's-50's layout in my home which, spans 3 rooms (delivers burgers, hot dogs, chips, etc. around the house) and have 2 of my boys involved as modelers now as well. Like Marylander, I never pass up the opportunity to ride the Durango to Silverton line, the Grand Canyon Railway (in summer only, when the steamers are in use), along with many other scenic, historic, and fascinating "tourist" lines across the country. But the idea that everyone with an interest in the history of railroading in America would flock to Scranton was a bit naive. Certainly, there are a few million of us in the nation who hold the steam era near and dear to our hearts, and consider this the Golden Age of railroading, but there just as assuredly aren't anywhere NEAR enough of us who would care to make Scranton an annual destination and throw down enough cash to support a park centered on the history of a local faction of the national scope. This ain't like another out of the way destination of even smaller stature, Cooperstown NY, where you have literally millions of baseball die-hards willing to migrate each season (and out-of-season for that matter) to watch the well-marketed Little League World Series, the ex-Hall of Fame Game and the annual induction ceremonies. Personally, a railroading-centered vacation would have to encompass WAY more than hours of driving to a single location for one lousy encounter, and there just isn't the plethora of other railroading opportunities along the way coming from most any other direction to make that type of a trip attractive. Even at Cooperstown, you can manage to take in games in Detroit, Cleveland, Philly, NY, Pittsburgh, etc. such that you can help justify the investment of time heading out to "middle of nowhere NY".

    That said, disposing of the inventory shouldn't be a major concern. There are numerous privately funded groups across the nation who would be more than happy to acquire vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock. Local museums, such as the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL. survive on showcasing these icons of the American expansion movement, run special excursions on them, and have a "moving exhibit" available for viewing every day of the year. Trust me; the hardware wouldn't go the scrap heap.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anonymous said;

    "... it's not like STEAM has much of an impact on the national economy"

    Just to clarify here, our civilization would promptly collapse, without steam. Steam drives our economy, our industry, and our military.

    All fossil-fuel electrical generating plants are steam plants. All nuclear power plants are steam plants. Industrial plants make profound use of steam & steam power. Shipping and the Navy are steamers.

    Steam not only survives, but you and all the rest of us are utterly dependent upon it.

    True, piston steam engines are now rare. Steam trains are retired. But truth be told, it was perhaps more the horrendous belching clouds of wretched-filthy smoke coming from locomotives, than the inefficiency of piston-steam, that did them in. (Plus of course the general collapse of railroads.)

    Steam radiant heat no longer dominates in homes & buildings ... but stand by: you may once again hear the clanking of steam pipes, and park your butt on a nice radiator under the window.

    Steam is steam, and it's a good thing to know about.

  • House Subcommittee Considers Bill to Relax ORV Rules for Cape Hatteras National Seashore   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Powerful words by Mr. Clayton:

    Essentially, the ESA is used by NGOs to effect legislation through the courts that is properly enacted only through Congress. That's wrong, it's a problem, and it is recognized in Congress that steps should be taken to stop it.

    I have now seen this "lever" in action with my own eyes. It is most certainly a misappliaction of the original intent of the ESA. Its usage needs to be halted.

    It would be in the interests of environmentalists & the environment to modify how the ESA works (it allows NGOs to function as a virtual Fourth Branch of the Government) earlier and more-incrementally, rather than wait for the eventual loss of the political conditions that protect it today.

    DOW/AS/SELC are certainly acting as a fourth branch with respect to the CHNSRA. If left as-is, it will certainly be challenged. I also agree that the ESA will suffer far worse if changes are forced upon it rather than being brought about internally.

    I would ask that we all hold in mind that it is unlikely we will manage to 'save the environment' by the passage of laws alone. Without a consensus among the voting citizens that certain goals are important to us, it is unlikely that environmentalism-by-edict will stick. Credibility is important, and the ESA is not doing well with too many Americans.

    I think a growing majority of Americans are beginning to tire of having the will of "Large Special Interest Groups" shoved down their throats. Here's a list of at least 11,000 American Citizens who don't think the situation in CHNSRA is credible:

    http://www.gopetition.com/online/18790.html

    Also, the "RA" designation does indeed exist, and is quite important to this issue. Once again, proof submitted in this document, which was part of the enabling legislation:

    TITLE 16--CONSERVATION

    CHAPTER 1--NATIONAL PARKS, MILITARY PARKS, MONUMENTS, AND SEASHORES

    SUBCHAPTER LXIII--NATIONAL SEASHORE RECREATIONAL AREAS

    Sec. 459. Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area;
    conditional establishment; acquisition of lands

    When title to all the lands, except those within the limits of
    established villages, within boundaries to be designated by the
    Secretary of the Interior within the area of approximately one hundred
    square miles on the islands of Chicamacomico, Ocracoke, Bodie, Roanoke,
    and Collington, and the waters and the lands beneath the waters adjacent
    thereto shall have been vested in the United States, said area shall be,
    and is, established, dedicated, and set apart as a national seashore
    recreational area for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and shall
    be known as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area:
    Provided, That the United States shall not purchase by appropriation of
    public moneys any lands within the aforesaid area, but such lands shall
    be secured by the United States only by public or private donation.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anon----you obviously didn't read my first comment earlier in this thread:

    "This federally sponsored disaster deserves to wither and die just like Fannie, Freddie and the crooked Lehman Brothers but, I'm afraid, will also receive more of our ill-gotten tax dollars before the inevitable forces of economic gravity drag it down into the black hole of bad ideas, that somehow manage to get Congressional funding, where it most deservedly belongs."

    I'm an equal opportunity enemy of government criminality and waste.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hah! You could be describing the mortgage industry as well! Ironic that there's not much outcry over bailing about big banks who screw up but there is over relatively small things like Steamtown (then again, it's not like STEAM has much of an impact on the national economy)

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The park opened to great fanfare in 1995, and things looked pretty good for a while. Now there is weeping and wailing. What went wrong?

    What went wrong? A really bad plan? Unrealistic expectations? Bureaucracy. Waste. At least when someone has a bad business plan and the business fails, the taxpayers don't have to pay . . . oh, wait a minute . . . Beamis is right on target on this one.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I've previously visited this Park, and while I enjoyed my experience here - I also felt like it missed the mark.

    Railroads have unquestionably had a profound effect on the history, culture, and development of this Nation. This story definitely seems like it should be told in part through the National Park System. However, unlike many other stories in this Nation's history, such as the story of Jazz in New Orleans, the Industrial Revolution in Lowell, or Lewis & Clark at Fort Clatsop - I don't know that there is any one "essential place" to this story.

    Where Steamtown misses the mark is that it tells the story of railroading in Scranton, Pennsylvania in exquisite detail - it is nevertheless the story of railroading in Scranton, Pennsylvania.... not exactly life-changing or Earth-shattering stuff.

    I think there is a proper role for a *true* "Railroading National Historic Site" in the National Park System, and I don't know that any place has a necessarily better claim to being the most-appropriate place for a Railroading NHS than Scranton does. O.k., maybe Promontory, Utah and the existing Golden Spike NHS - but if that place told the story of railroading in terms of Westward Expansion and the Trans-Continental Railroad and another place told the story of Railroading in the context of Urban Development on the Eastern Seabord, I don't think that would necessarily be overkill.

    Thus, I am somewhat sympathetic to the levied charge that the existing management of Steamtown NHS lacks imagination. I think it would only take a little imagination to extend the virtual boundaries of Steamtown beyond the story of Scranton, PA and tell a truly National story of railroading and the development of country - a story that might have much broader appeal.

  • Prime Location and Varied Habitat Help Make Point Reyes National Seashore a Biodiversity Treasure Trove   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Now if they could only keep the pot-growers out of Point Reyes...

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hey, you're looking at a new Vice President who was born in Scranton -- so don't expect that Steamtown will wither on the vine and die. Eight more years to get its act together...

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Superheater;

    I have a considerable affiliation with your interest in historical steam and railroad operations, and empathy for the preservation effort you support. I cringe a bit, that so many aspects of our 'progress' 'discredit' formerly outstanding technologies.

    I know what a "superheater" is & does: I am a (turbine) steam plant operator ... and nuclear power plant operator, and submariner. The hull of my Thresher-class boat, the USS Drum SSN 677 lies tied in the Sacramento River at Mare Island (the now-closed Navy base, where I attended nuclear power school) awaiting funds to turn it into a museum and sole surviving example of the quiet machines that substantially enabled us to retire the Soviet Union. I imagine it's a forlorn project.

    I like that piston steam can run on a campfire. That valve-boxes can be fabricated with a hacksaw & file. At the remote resort where I live, we pulled a vertical boiler out of a septic tank: it now decorates the yard of the cabin next door. I grew up with the giant stumps logged by 5 or 10 horsepower steam donkeys. My grandfather stands with a crew of dozens on one.

    So ... yeah, I have a pretty good idea where you're coming from, why you do what you do, and what you get out of it.

    Unfortunately, it may well be that the US National Park System/Service was not really the organization that can best see to our steam railroad heritage. My operational suspicion is, we've saddled the laudable idea of natural-wonder & King's-forest Parks with too many follow-on functionalities, at which it is basically ill-suited.

    Right now, we are dancing around, anxious to restart the 19% of our national refinery capacity that was shut down as hurricane Ike passed over. This is likely a foretaste of an increasingly common predicament ... hoping we don't start seeing NO GAS signs cropping up, or (groan) prices breaking $5 ... etc.

    I'm not sticking my economic neck out anywhere these days, and I expect coming Presidents & Congress' are going to be following suit. In this climate, people with a passion such as yours will find their efforts complicated by stark economic realities.

    ... So if it's not going to be the NPS, how else might Steamtown hold it together?

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    So what you're saying is that it makes perfect sense to extract money from federal taxpayers across the nation to subsidize attractions in economically depressed areas? I don't know about its relative convenience but I never knew that any region or city "deserved" anything, especially the hard earned wealth of folks from other regions of the country.

    If manufacturers and employers have abandoned heavily unionized places like Pennsylvania and Michigan to set up shop in South Carolina and Sonora it is not the responsibility of the citizens of Arizona and Florida to cough up the dough to create half-baked tourist attractions in the Rust Belt. It was clear from the beginning that this was what the local Congressman had in mind and now the free market has responded. Steamtown and Scranton are duds! No offense but not every place can be Aspen or Martha's Vineyard. What was it I recently heard about putting lipstick on a pig? Oh, never mind.....

    Your logic just illustrates how deeply ingrained national socialism has become in our formerly great and grand republic.

    "Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods." ------ H.L. Mencken

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I didn't realize it was so bad. I visited there a couple of years ago, and didn't feel disappointed. Yes, I was disappointed there weren't more visitors, but I didn't visit during the peak season anyway.

    I do disagree with Beamis, however, that Scranton doesn't deserve an attraction simply because it's an economically depressed area. We shouldn't abandon parts of the country that aren't doing well simply because the money is elsewhere.

    Just because it's not convenient doesn't mean it's not important.

    ============================================================

    My travels through the National Park System: americaincontext.com

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    My family and I go out of our way to ride in steam powered trains. For example, we never miss the Durango Silverton line when passing through Colorado. It is like stepping back in time, just magical. Bottom line: If my family can't ride the train -any train- for a awesome excursion, we are not going to make the trip. If privatization would bring more rides for families, then in this particular case, I am all for it. Looking at old trains is one thing, but riding the train is the total experience.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Sell this white elephant----lock, stock and barrel!

    It was obvious pork in '86 and is now nothing more than $176 million down the drain that was unwisely allocated to revitalize an area of Pennsylvania that ain't comin' back no matter how much more wealth is redistributed from federal taxpayers residing in other parts of the country.

    The real question should be: who's going to want to buy this collection of junk from the government and run a "tourist" attraction in a thoroughly dead area of the old "Rust Belt"?

    This federally sponsored disaster deserves to wither and die just like Fannie, Freddie and the crooked Lehman Brothers but, I'm afraid, will also receive more of our ill-gotten tax dollars before the inevitable forces of economic gravity drag it down into the black hole of bad ideas, that somehow manage to get Congressional funding, where it most deservedly belongs.

  • Alaska Regional Director Responds To Outrage Over Katmai Preserve Bear Hunt   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anonymous (Sept 14 '08)

    Hey, the most recent comment preceding yours is from last November - almost a year ago. There was a whole bunch of other comments, and we can't tell which one you are responding to.

    The original post says straight out:

    "During the last open fall-spring hunt, 35 bears were taken. This translates to an annual harvest rate of no more than 5 percent, considered by biologists to be conservative harvest." (emph. added)
    ... So they obviously are not killing all "big healthy bears", as you say.

    Alaska bear populations have been hunted for a long time, and there is no runting or other diminution of the resource.

    We understand that some folks do not like or approve of hunting, either as a general rule or as pertains to certain species, or within certain habitats. It is clear from your comment that you are passionate. Please gather your good arguments together, make clear which other commenter you are addressing, and tell us more about your position & views.

    Thank you!

  • Sky-High Ginseng Prices Boost Illegal Harvest in Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Anonymous (Sept 14),

    Easy there, now ... I didn't say ginseng doesn't exist outside the Park. Of course it does. I said that a buyer & other knowledgeable pickers can identify product that comes from the Park due to its "quality". Patches that are protected in the Park will yield bigger & older roots than areas that are regularly visited, and it will be evident that such material is 'unusual'. It's the "quality" I'm saying "doesn't exist", outside the Park.

    That's interesting, you're finding ginseng right in town. Cool. Do you know of any folks growing their own patches, or 'grooming' wild patches?

    Do you do any other kinds of picking & gathering, other than ginseng?

  • Sky-High Ginseng Prices Boost Illegal Harvest in Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    horse pucky!!!i hunt ginseng i live in towsend i have just recently taken up looking for it ive never been in the park and have harvested about 2 lbs in the last 2 weeks.. all no where near the park!mostly in the town limits!!!to say it doesnt exist anywhere else is ludicris!you need to go farher into the moutains or something if its this abundent here some one is wrong about its status in the park,,,

  • Alaska Regional Director Responds To Outrage Over Katmai Preserve Bear Hunt   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Real man huh? I would love to walk within feet of a bear rather then live anywhere near your inconsiderate self. The point is there is no sport in murder. If they need to be thinned out let the state decide which bears need to be shot. You just want that bear trophy to hang on your chair like miss Sara. Kill all the big healthy bears and leave the rest, soon there will be nothing left on earth but sick and scared animals for you killers to hunt down. Maybe then you won't be interested in killing any more.

  • Attendance Shortfalls at Steamtown National Historic Site Prompt Calls for Privatization   5 years 30 weeks ago

    As a Steamtown volunteer, I posted the following comment to the article in the Scranton Times:

    Mr. Singleton:

    It was some days ago that I learned of your article on Steamtown through an announcement of its impending publication posted on a website devoted to the railroad preservation community interests, Rypn.org by Ross Rowland, one of the “critics” airing their views in the article. I expected that if Mr. Rowland was “hyping” the article in advance, its tenor or conclusions would match his well known negative attitude toward Steamtown.

    Whatever the conclusions, I would have expected that you would have vetted your sources better. Unfortunately, you did not. Unlike those critics, I have been an active volunteer at Steamtown since 1995 in various capacities, but primarily in train and engine service. From that lasting affiliation, I know Steamtown very well, and both its positive and negative attributes. Because of that, I think we should examine a few positive aspects of Steamtown and the motivations and qualifications of its critics.

    First, let consider three positive aspects of Steamtown.

    First, Steamtown is still operating long distance excursions when others, most notably the Grand Canyon Railroad (who just shut down their steam operations this month) and the Ohio Central have given up on regularly scheduled steam excursions. The only exception to this rule has been the new excursions on the nearby Reading and Northern Railroad, who returned their No. 425 to service this year. In a testament to the difficulties of operating Steam, the 425 was inactive for over a decade and they have announced no plans to restore their other and larger locomotive- the Reading 2102 (a sister to Steamtown’s 2124) to service.

    Secondly, Steamtown is currently and successfully operating excursions on the Canadian Pacific Railroad, no small accomplishment. Most large, publicly owned railroads want nothing to do with public excursions (especially steam), as they perceive enormous operational and legal risks in order to be associated with passengers and older equipment. These concerns have sidelined numerous locomotives in recent years and caused the end of the Norfolk Southern’s steam program in 1994.

    Third, Steamtown has managed to attract and retain one of the most active, vigorous and dedicated volunteer groups in the country. Some volunteers now have over twenty years of service and one provided over 10,000 hours of volunteer service.

    Finally let’s examine the qualifications of two of your “critics”, Mr. Donald L. Pevsner and Ross Rowland.

    Mr. Pevsner is indeed a “transportation lawyer” but his legal background appears to be confined to commercial aviation. There is no suggestion that he has any special knowledge of railroading in general, or heritage operations in particular other than as an author of opinion pieces. It’s quite a different matter to fly an aircraft in the public airspace than it is to operate a train over privately owned rights-of-way.

    Secondly, while Ross Rowland has operated showcase operations such as the American Freedom train, inside the preservation community and in the railroad industry in general, he is something of a pariah. I have personally spoken to a retired railroad manager who was a trainmaster on a railroad Ross operated on in the 1960’s who expressed concerns over Ross’ ability to subordinate his showmanship to the “prime directive” of railroading-safety.

    With the possible exception of some limited success in the late 1960’s, (now a lifetime ago) Ross has never been able to operate steam on a sustained basis. Typical of his operations were trips run in the late 1990’s on New Jersey Transit from Port Jervis to Hoboken. The trips were run until the locomotive; former C&O No. 614 needed the heavy mechanical work all steam engines require. Unable to fund that rehabilitation, he had the locomotive taken to the Reading & Northern’s Port Clinton headquarters where it remains today parked and cold in an inoperative condition.

    I suspect part of his campaign against Steamtown is in part due to his inability to reach an agreement to move that locomotive to Steamtown. It’s also clear that he regards Steamtown more as an amusement park than a government operated historic site and doesn’t seem to understand that there are mission-driven constraints on the nature and extent of the operation.

  • Bear #399, And Other Grizzlies, Are On the Prowl In Grand Teton National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    We saw 399 and one of her cubs this past week around Pacific Creek area - it was so special. We saw the cub first, foraging for berries on the bank above the road, and then a few days later saw 399 herself digging up grubs etc. Both attracted a small but respectful audience with 399 being kept an eye on by a ranger - who told us she had been out of sight for a couple of months. I just hope she is still around for us to see again next fall, she really seemed very special once we knew her story.

  • Greening the National Parks: Environmental Achievement Awards Highlight Sustainable Design, Energy-Efficiency, and Recycling   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Most of the greening-initiatives mentioned in this post seem like commendable recognition for doing what's basically only right, but certainly will benefit from the encouragement & reinforcement.

    (At my logging camp on the reknown black bear haven of Kuiu Island of Southeast Alaska, there was strenuous competition for the duty of taking garbage to the informal dump - an operation straight out of the Yellowstone bear-feeding playbook. Throughout the Far North, open dumps conditioned bears to seek out home trash-cans, incinerator-barrels, compost-piles and even fertilized garden-plots - often leading to destructive and sometimes dangerous bear-visitation at folks' homes. They knew dump-feeding led to bear-invasions, but it took a long time - and 'intervention' - for northern communities to finally break the bear-dump link.)

    What did raise questions for me, is the citation of somebody called Xanterra, for building a power-generating plant in(?) Death Valley Park. I tried Xanterra's own website, but it's for somebody with broadband to check out. However, the Wikipedia entry about the company provides a good first pass on their background.

    While photovoltaic electrical power generation is a good step forward (once it becomes economical on meaningful scales - which escalating fossil-fuel prices bring closer!), I have to think it would still be preferable not to site such facilities within National Parks. I furthermore have the hunch that if it were I or you who wanted to erect some technological activity within a Park, nobody would even talk to us. What does Xanterra have going here, that their power plant construction project gets sited in the Park? Wouldn't it be 'greener' to put it outside the Park?

    On the whole, though, I agree: our National Parks have a natural role in promoting the generalized 'green ethic'. Sorting garbage, solar heating, fuel-efficient vehicles and more can & should be showcased, and rewarded with public kudos.

  • The Essential Olympic   5 years 31 weeks ago

    “.. one can recall that “rain is only water and the skin is waterproof” and go walking in the forest, and find that after completing the initial process of getting soaking wet, all the way to the skin, there is no more pain remaining in the rain, or the water-heavy brush, or even knee-deep streams, and one can then proceed pleasurably through the water wilderness with a sort of swimming motion, winking the excess rain out of the eyes, blowing drips from the upper lip, and lulled by the rhythmic squish in the boots.”
    - Harvey Manning -

  • Prime Location and Varied Habitat Help Make Point Reyes National Seashore a Biodiversity Treasure Trove   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Grasslands and "open scrublands" that have been grazed for several centuries are anything but natural. To get the best grazing for cattle, you artificially hold the ecosystem in the early, fast-growing stage of ecological succession that many call the "weedy" stage. My guess is that, if all the cattle were removed, the grassy/scrubby vegetation would be replaced eventually with a more richly diversified ecosystem with fewer grasses and more shrubs and trees. You'd have to ask an ecologist or botanist about that, and I'm not one of those. As for getting to the shore, there are some good places to get to beaches, if that's what you want. Drakes Beach (sand and muddy sand) is a popular, easy to get to spot. McClures Beach is gorgeous (sea stacks). There are others (check the PORE website).

  • Prime Location and Varied Habitat Help Make Point Reyes National Seashore a Biodiversity Treasure Trove   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Very nice background, Bob - thanks!

    I have not determined - is the 'open-scrub' ecology there a natural feature? That's what drew the original Spanish settlers - 'open fields' they could see from the water?

    Are the majority of the shoreline contexts open to visitors - I wanted to go down the rough bluffs to the tantalizing beaches, but had others along and stuck to the upland trails. We did not visit working dairy farms, but did see & inspect historic barns etc. (I too, Barky, have dairy-background from the grandparents farm.)

    Yes, it is called a "Seashore", not (mostly) "wilderness" ... but I remain curious about the natural heritage of the 'uplands', whether the original flora-complex survived & recovered ... or is what we see growing just the 'weeds' that took over by default?

    (I noted similar but much smaller patches of open terrain along the Lost Coast/Kings Range, to the north - and they appear to be "grasslands".)

  • Prime Location and Varied Habitat Help Make Point Reyes National Seashore a Biodiversity Treasure Trove   5 years 31 weeks ago

    Here is some background for the comments that Barky and Ted made. I hope you'll find them useful. Bear in mind that this national seashore is a 111-square mile area, only part of which is occupied by dairy farms. Also recall that the article I wrote focused on biodiversity, not scenic values or recreation opportunities, per se. Point Reyes is a marvelous place by any reasonable measure. It has long been, and will remain, one of my favorite national parks.

    The Point Reyes peninsula has been used for cattle grazing since the Spanish colonial era. During Spanish rule, three “Lords of Point Reyes” -- James Berry, Rafael Garcia, and Antonio Osio – operated ranches on the peninsula under authority of Spanish land grants. Later, a single family -- the Shafters and their in-laws, the Howards -- owned the entire peninsula.

    When the park was created nearly a half-century ago, the enabling legislation ensured the continuation of pastoral activities by providing that ranchers who sold their property to the federal government would be given renewable leases. The areas and structures used for grazing activities comprise the park’s Pastoral Zone.

    Today, there are about 30 private beef and dairy cattle operations in the Pastoral Zone. These livestock operations operate under the terms of leases and related agreements with the Park Service.

    Point Reyes National Seashore has many interesting historic structures related to cattle ranching. Many of the structures related to the grazing industry are historically significant. The historic Pierce Ranch dates back to the time of the Spanish land grants, and many buildings in the ranch complex were constructed in the 1860s. The Historic C Ranch was established in 1859.