Preserving the Coastal Beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore
The headlands of Point Reyes National Seashore tower above the Pacific Ocean waves giving visitors a commanding view of Bodega Bay to the North, San Francisco to the South, and the vast ocean horizon to the West. Point Reyes is almost completely separated from the mainland by a rift zone of the San Andreas Fault making it a unique and somewhat isolated place. The location’s varied terrain including expansive beaches, open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges make the peninsula an exceptional place and home for an incredible diversity of wildlife.
Human history in Point Reyes stretches back around 5,000 years when Coast Miwok settled the land creating over 120 villages within the space currently included in the park. Drakes Bay at Point Reyes National Seashore acquired its name from the first European explorer who encountered the area in 1579, Sir Francis Drake. A treacherous maritime history of shipwrecks along the coast has led the park to develop key lighthouse and lifesaving stations that were built in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Founded in 1964, two years after the creation of Point Reyes National Seashore, Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA) engages and educates park visitors through diverse offerings in adult learning, the arts, and volunteer opportunities. Much of Point Reyes is available within hiking distance of the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center, built, funded and managed by PRNSA.
Point Reyes is the ideal outdoor classroom, encompassing over 70,000 acres of varied landscapes from coniferous forest to sandy dunes to marsh and grassland. PRNSA works to constantly increase visitors’ accessibility to Point Reyes while also working tirelessly to protect the natural environment that makes the space so magnificent.
PRNSA offers an immersive, overnight summer cap program and a school year program that provides teachers and group leaders with support, assistance, and the information they need to create an impactful program. Approximately 2,500 of the children involved are underserved and attend free or reduced-cost programs with the support of $200,000 in donations from foundations and individuals.
PRNSA is a powerhouse in the field of fundraising. In 2015 alone the organization aided Point Reyes National Seashore with $1.25 million.
PRNSA also funds youth science field trips in the park, high school and college-level internships, and research fellowships. Each project focuses on building the next generation of scientists engaged in research to protect the natural world.
Further working to engage the public, in 2015 PRNSA curated three exhibitions and sales of landscape paintings, and presented five exhibits in collaboration with the park’s museum with a focus on works by women environmental artists and historical photographs.
On the conservation side, PRNSA has partnered with the park to improve the extensive dune ecosystems of Point Reyes. They have helped remove invasive European beachgrass and iceplant in order to restore the native plant species and increase the resiliency of coastal landscapes.
PRNSA is raising funds for the restoration of the park’s charismatic Estero Trail which skirts Drake’s Estero, the heart of the park and the only marine wilderness on the Pacific coast south of Alaska. PRNSA is also raising money for the removal of 95 oyster racks (the equivalent of 5 miles in length or seven acres; 470 tons of material), mariculture debris, and invasive species in the Estero.