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Point Reyes National Seashore Turns Fifty

Point Reyes National Seashore

National Park News

Point Reyes National Seashore turned 50 years old yesterday. The park was established on September 13, 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, "to save and preserve, for purposes of public recreation, benefit, and inspiration a portion of the diminishing seashore of the United States that remains undeveloped."

One of America’s greatest coastlines, the seashore covers over 71,000 acres, including 32,000 acres of Congressionally-designated wilderness. Estuaries, windswept beaches, coastal grasslands, salt marshes, and coniferous forests create a haven of 80 miles of unspoiled and undeveloped coastline.

Cicely Muldoon, the park’s superintendent, offered these thoughts on the occasion in a letter to the public:

Those of us fortunate enough to live in the Bay Area know that Point Reyes National Seashore is an extraordinary place, spectacularly rich in biological diversity and steeped in human history that remains vibrant to this day. Only an hour from seven million people, it is a world apart.

This month we celebrate the park’s 50th anniversary, and honor those who had the courage, vision, and dogged persistence to create Point Reyes National Seashore.

What a battle it was. The alternative seems almost incomprehensible today: a four-lane highway up the Olema Valley; 150,000 more people on the Point Reyes Peninsula and the east side of Tomales Bay; and a massive housing development at Limantour Beach. Instead, we have 80 miles of protected coastline, 150 miles of trails, working ranches, world class wildlife and plant diversity, wilderness, and thousands of citizen volunteers. More than 2 million visitors enjoy the park each year, and it annually infuses $85 million into the local economy.

Considering the intensive development pressure in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the park’s creation remains an amazing feat.

Growing up in Marin after Point Reyes National Seashore was established, I was not aware of the long, hard struggle by elected officials, the National Park Service, and most crucially a committed citizenry to preserve this unparalleled landscape. It is a testament to extraordinary collaboration. As a Marin kid, I thought Point Reyes National Seashore had always been here, and I reaped the benefits of unfettered access to this magnificent place, as does every visitor who enjoys the park today.

What a gift. And what a responsibility we bear to pass that gift along to future generations.

As part of the National Park System, Point Reyes National Seashore is proud to serve as a source of discovery, economic vitality, renewed spirit, and deepened understanding of our individual and national identity. We celebrate our 50th anniversary on September 13th, but in truth that celebration happens every day, with each visitor who comes to the park.

The great Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior when Point Reyes National Seashore was established and instrumental in its creation, wrote this in 1962: "[Point Reyes] owes its wide uncluttered dimension to ranchers...who have maintained its land for a century, and owes its public recognition to quiet citizens in private life who know what it is to love the earth and who care about working for it."

Come visit Point Reyes National Seashore and experience this magnificent public park for yourself. Here’s to the next 50!


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