Point Reyes National Seashore

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published January, 2002


View Full Report
(PDF, 3 MB, 32 pages)

Summary

Point Reyes National Seashore's marine and terrestrial ecosystems harbor an astonishingly rich array of wildlife species; some found nowhere else on Earth. A wide-ranging cultural and historical legacy dating back 5,000 years seizes the imagination of visitors.

But Point Reyes, just 40 miles northwest of San Francisco, faces many problems and pressures that threaten its terrestrial and marine flora and fauna and its magnificent cultural heritage that includes nearly 300 historic structures.

To determine the condition of natural and cultural resources at Point Reyes and other parks, the National Parks Conservation Association initiated the State of the Parks Program. The program evaluates the condition of park resources across the country, forecasts likely future conditions, and provides the information and recommendations needed for improvement.

At Point Reyes National Seashore, the assessment concluded that on a scale of 0 to 100, the condition of Point Reyes' known natural resources, rates 60.

Among the findings:

  • Non-native invasive species kill, replace, or out-compete many native species, including plant communities, a number of which are endangered or found nowhere else.

  • Non-native invasive diseases afflict elk and deer.

  • Sudden Oak Death may be on the verge of infecting live oak, black oak, tanoak, huckleberry, and 16 other plant species.

  • Lack of information about marine species hampers attempts to sustain native populations and mitigate potential ecosystem threats such as global climate change.

The condition of the park's known cultural resources rates 62. Specifically:

  • Thirty-five of the seashore's 293 historic structures are in poor condition, including four that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

  • The 463,357 archival documents from the recently acquired historic RCA transmitting stations have yet to be cataloged and are not accessible to researchers.

  • The condition of many of the park's 124 known archaeological sites has not been determined, and large portions of the park have not been surveyed.

Point Reyes' stewardship capacity—the ability of the Park Service to protect resources—rates 73.

The report predicts that given current funding, the overall condition of natural resources is likely to deteriorate in the near future—primarily because of the effects of invasive non-native species. If management levels stay the same, no major changes are expected in the overall condition of cultural resources over the next ten years. Fortunately, the Park Service's capacity to address resource issues has increased in recent years, partly because of park fees and additional congressional funding through the Natural Resource Challenge, a nationwide initiative.

This report recommends a number of steps to improve the condition of natural and cultural resources at the park. The major recommendations emphasize the need to eliminate or control the spread of non-native invasive species, catalog and safely store archival and museum materials, and protect the park's outstanding archaeological sites.

To accomplish these and other important tasks, increased funding and staffing are essential. But if implemented, the recommendations in this report will help to ensure that Point Reyes remains a vibrant piece of our natural, cultural, and historical legacy.

EVALUATION OF CONDITIONS at POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE

Category
Current conditions
(scale of 0 to 100)

Forecast

Overall Natural Resource Conditions

60

Native biodiversity
(25% of natural resource rating)

78

Terrestrial communities and systems
(25% of natural resource rating)

63

Freshwater communities and systems
(25% of natural resource rating)

57

Marine communities and systems
(25% of natural resource rating)

40

Overall Cultural Resource Conditions

62

Historic structures
(33% of cultural resource rating)

79

Collections and archives
(33% of cultural resource rating)

62

Archaeological sites

unknown

Ethnography (33% of cultural resource rating)

75

Cultural landscapes

unknown

Stewardship Capacity

73

Funding and staffing (55% of capacity rating)

60

Park planning (20% of capacity rating)

84

Research (10% of capacity rating)

92

Partnerships and external support
(15% of capacity rating)

90

The State of the Parks Program rated current conditions at Point Reyes National Seashore and forecasted likely future conditions. "Unknown" means that there was insufficient information to rate conditions. Each unknown rating resulted in five points subtracted from the overall category score. "Flat arrows" indicate that no major changes are forecast for the next ten years. "Down arrows" indicate likely deterioration of conditions; "Up arrows" indicate likely improvement.

Download the Point Reyes report as a PDF file, which can be opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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