Each rancher pays the Park a dollar amount for each head of cattle they graze on the Point Reyes Peninsula. When elk are free to graze inside the pastures, there is less food for each cow. When they run out of food, farmers must buy feed and truck it in to make up the difference. In order to maintain an organic certification, each ranch must submit their feed bills to the certifying agency. If they exceed the maximum percentage allowable, they will lose their certifications.
In addition, this year there has been a drought year. Elk are drinking from supplies intended to support the cattle herd. Ranchers have had to buy supplemental water from the National Park Service.
This is not a unique problem but ranchers across the country operate on a very slim margin. The ranches on the National Seashore are at the tipping point on survivability and, if the park waits for the long NEPA process to be completed before building the fences, even more ranches will go silent. The landscape you'll find when you drive through the park will be stark. Elk Fences Now.