On July 31st, MTTF filed a lawsuit to require park officials to perform an environmental assessment for high-volume expansion plans at the salmon spawning grounds at Muir Beach.
The lawsuit asks that NEPA laws be respected.
On October 21st, GGNRA agreed in a settlement to do an EIR Environmental Impact Report if they bring this project to the table again. They also agreed to notify the public in advance. We are not sure why it requires a lawsuit to get the agency to follow the rules.
No private developer would ever be allowed to break ground in a fragile conservation area without respecting the rules. Why should NPS grant itself sweeping exceptions to regulations, laws, and common courtesies, such as consulting with neighbors?
Superintendent Frank Dean gave his own agency a “categorical exclusion” from following NEPA laws; this “exclusion” is normally reserved for minor non-controversial matters. But is an environmental “exclusion” fitting for a conservation area where salmon are being rescued? (Graton tribal elders held a farewell ceremony for the young salmon removed from Redwood Creek to prevent extinction.)
When GGNRA refused to reconsider expansion, Morrison-Foester was forced to file suit to prevent construction due to start in September for a $500,00 to one million dollar bus station. This high volume station opens the way for 6 Muir Woods tour buses an hour (according to the parks published 20-year General Management plan) plus double decker hop/on buses could use this space as enforcement is impossible.
This would push hundreds of people each day 1/2 mile through fragile wetlands near Green Gulch farm but give NPS more ticket sales. They want BOTH more parking AND more buses. No eco savings in that!
The NPS’s first duty is to protect Muir Woods area for future generations; if it is “oversold” we’ll have a golden goose as the area is degraded. Already tourists are sold tickets to view salmon that are nearly extinct. Young Coho salmonids were rescued from Redwood creek and sent to a hatchery to try to save them from extinction. A farewell ceremony held at the Muir Beach with Graton Indian elders on August 13, 2014, noted the last 50 years of salmon decline.
If we cannot protect a UNESCO recognized treasure of biodiversity, what is the GGNRA mission?
On June 18th park officials stunned a standing room audience by again rejecting requests to limit ticket sales at Muir Woods to a sustainable number or to conduct a scientific capacity study. Departing from prior protocol, GGNRA PR Director has refused to publish the public comments on this project.
New proposals include 110 parking spots next to the Redwood Creek (former?) salmon run — complete with fancy “valet service” to cost $10-$15 dollars? Plus higher admission fees? In 2015 it could cost $25 for one entry wit parking space.
How about national online “one-click” shopping for reservations that will be filled 90% in advance (according to GGNRA) With only 15 spaces for local Bay area folks to come on short notice?
BOS President Kate Sears asked for a reasonable CAP to help protect the ecosystem in her January letter but park officials continue to reject this option. Despite prior agreements from 2005, strong support and a May 1st letter from Congressman Huffman asking for revisions to the plans, GGNRA forges ahead.
(By contrast, Supervisor Kinsey’s email said: “I am not prepared to seek a halt to the [bus station] project at this time” despite receiving 140 protest letters over risks to the ecology in the last 10 days, and notified of the County’s potential liability for abetting the NPS efforts.)
NPS projects target 4000 customers a day, according to Mia Monroe, Muir Woods head ranger. That is 1.46 million annually. That is TWICE the population of San Francisco, and SIX times the population of Marin.
HOW? By using the national ALCATRAZ model reservation system that guarantees parking. GGNRA plans to run Muir Woods like a restaurant with ALL tables filled ALL day EVERY day.
John Muir used to walk that trail. We want our kids to be able to safely walk the same trail too. We’d want to see living thriving salmon restored to Redwood Creek.
Similar projects were thrown out by Marin County Supervisors in 2005 for the reasons below: