Whose Point Reyes?: A Battle For the Future of Public Lands

A herd of Tule Elk. Credit: Lee Eastman/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters.

Reported and produced by Sam Anderson. Edited by Lucy Kang.

Point Reyes National Seashore in northern California is one of the most iconic national parks in the region, known for rugged sweeping beaches, lush pastures, and wild animals like the famous Tule Elk. But it’s also one of the only national parks that allows commercial cattle ranching on its land.

In 2021, the National Park Service announced over a third of the elk herd at Tomales Point perished, due to starvation and dehydration. A coalition of activists and environmentalists say cattle ranching is the cause of the die-off.

In this original audio documentary, reporter Sam Anderson sets out to uncover the fate of the Tule Elk, and falls headfirst into a decades-long battle between ranchers, environmentalists, indigenous groups, and the federal government over who gets to profit from this public land and who controls its future.

“Whose Point Reyes?” is an immersive 43-minute audio documentary that transports listeners to the Point Reyes Peninsula to understand how cattle ranching is impacting the natural ecosystem and how the forces of colonialism continue to shape the fate of public land in the US.

Originally aired on KPFA’s UpFront on December 30, 2021.