Jun 13, 2020
By Peter J Prunuske
I take exception to Leslie Churchack’s rather inflammatory article about Point Reyes.
No, Johnes disease has NOT been found in cattle. It’s been found in the elk population. This disease is NOT transferable to humans as Churchack erroneously claims. Also found in the elk population is Brucellosis. This is transmittable to humans but extremely rare. Both of these diseases can be transmitted to cattle but the elk are segregated.
For historical perspective, the elk were eliminated in 1850’s but reintroduce in 1978. Dairy farming along with rye, potatoes and poultry began in 1865. The milk and cream were extolled for their high butter content.
Since 1992 measures have been undertaken by the Marin Conservation district and local ranches to mitigate runoff and cattle waste into the watershed fencing off streams and creating hard bed crossings for cattle. In the past 19 years coliform bacteria has been reduced 95% in Olema Creek a major tributary of Tomales Bay. Similar efforts on Stemple Creek are showing corresponding results.
Mz. Churchack claims 5000 cattle produce “a lot of poop”. Well if you take 5000 cows on 28000 acres that’s a density of one cow per 50 acres. Hardly a Central Valley feed lot.
I might remind people that 95% of Marin Co. dairy ranches are organic spearheaded by the Straus family years ago. In fact the Straus ranch is completely powered by cow poop using a methane digestor- this includes tractors and trucks.
The cattle are not the enemy. In fact studies of fallow land in Marin Co. show a marked decrease in diversity, from wildflowers to butterflies.
I urge people to take a wholistic view of Point Reyes seashore. It’s held as a paragon in the US and the world for the amazing biodiversity it encompasses.
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