ELC Succeeds in Efforts to Protect State Park Natural Habitat

Environmental Law Clinic student Holley Horrell successfully convinced the California Department of Parks and Recreation to prohibit private cattle grazing in Tolowa Dunes State Park (Del Norte County) on the banks of the pristine Smith River.

In May 2011, the clinic sent a detailed letter to the Parks Department that its permits authorizing a private dairy farm to graze cattle on 230 acres of public land along the Yontocket and Tolowa Sloughs were illegal, and that the grazing was adversely impacting those acres and surrounding habitat.  For many years, the private grazing permits violated laws governing the management of California’s state parks, and the California Coastal Act.  As a direct result of the letter Holley prepared, the Parks Department has now agreed to comply with its legal duties, respect the intended purpose of Tolowa Dunes State Park, and prohibit the cattle from grazing within the park.  The cessation of grazing will help protect the Park’s wetlands and dunes ecosystems, which provide critical habitat for threatened and endangered species as well as migratory birds.