Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 21, 2017

Contact: Jeff Miller, (707) 604-7739,

Cattle Waste Puts California's Point Reyes on 'Crappiest Places in America' List

POINT REYES, Calif.— The livestock-polluted waters of Point Reyes National Seashore rank in the top 10 percent of U.S. locations most contaminated by feces indicated by E. coli bacteria, according to a new report published on the investigative journalism website The Revelator.

The report also discloses that Point Reyes National Seashore has been one of the 10 most feces-contaminated locations monitored in California since 2012 and that the state’s highest reported E. coli level was on a Point Reyes cattle ranch.

“A national park like Point Reyes shouldn’t be home to some of the crappiest waterways in America,” said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Park Service is supposed to manage these public lands for protection of natural resources, but commercial dairies and cattle ranches continue to cause significant bacterial pollution of the park’s waterways.”

The high fecal coliform readings came from wetlands and creeks draining ranches in the Kehoe Beach area of Point Reyes National Seashore. Eight locations in the Olema Valley that receive runoff from cattle ranches within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area also stood out for high fecal bacteria levels. The National Park Service also manages these ranch leases on public lands.

At Point Reyes National Seashore approximately 15 private ranching enterprises currently graze beef and dairy cattle on 24 lease units that make up more than 18,000 acres of the park’s 71,000 acres.

The National Park Service is currently updating the Point Reyes National Seashore management plan to address cattle ranching impacts and grazing conflicts with native wildlife such as tule elk. The Park Service is proposing to extend cattle grazing leases and is considering increasing ranching activities in the park.

The Park Service’s 2013 Coastal Watershed Assessment for Point Reyes National Seashore documented numerous examples of cattle ranching polluting water resources in the park and identified bacterial and nutrient pollution from dairies and ranches as a principal threat to water quality. The Park Service allows dairy ranches to spread liquid cattle manure on grasslands throughout the park.

The Park Service’s assessment determined that dairies pollute the Drakes Estero, Limantour, Kehoe and Abbots Lagoon areas with high concentrations of fecal coliform. Other studies show that cattle ranches are one of the major contributors of fecal coliform and E. coli to Tomales Bay.

The report highlighting the water pollution assessments was published this week in news and investigative journalism site The Revelator, published by the Center.

The water pollution analysis that was the basis for The Revelator’s report used water-quality monitoring data from the Water Quality Portal, collected from more than 400 state, federal, tribal and local agencies from October 2012 to October 2017. The data was then compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency and National Water Quality Monitoring Council. The mapped data is the highest E. coli test result for every available testing location in the last five years.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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