West Marin Feuds

Folks who live in West Marin are an independent bunch. No one seems to take a lot of crap from anyone else, so it is certainly interesting to watch disagreements unfold. Recently, two controversies have been top of mind for the residents of West Marin:

Population management of fallow and axis deer. 

Fallow DeerThe Park Service wants to reestablish the natural ecosystem of Point Reyes by managing the non-native deer. 

In its 2001 Management Policies, the National Park Service instructs parks such as Point Reyes National Seashore to re-establish natural functions and processes in human-disturbed components of natural systems. The Management Policies include non-native species as an example of a human-caused disturbance that can have severe impacts on natural biota and ecosystems.

Others feel that the plan is inhumane.

…the Marin Humane Society, In Defense of Animals, and WildCare respectfully request non-violent management of the deer instead of inhumane slaughter

As of this writing, the Park Service’s plan is being implemented.

The new management of the local newspaper, The Point Reyes Light.

Robert PlotkinSince the newspaper changed hands in 2005, some are put off by the direction of the new management. Others looked forward to a more stable local paper (the Light was facing some serious financial difficulties before its recent sale) and many are pleased by the handsome new look.  But the turmoil between the new publisher, the old publisher and the local residents has been top of news.

The feud got national attention when The New York Times wrote last year:

The nasty public feud between the past and present owners of The Light. Mr. Mitchell, a gangly, corncob-pipe-smoking 62-year-old who looks like an aging folk singer and won a Pulitzer Prize, and Mr. Plotkin, a 36-year-old onetime prosecutor with a GQ fashion sense who describes himself as “a man of action, like James Bond” has captivated the 14 far-flung villages here on the western tilt of Marin County.

David MitchellAging folk singer vs James Bond!  Pretty great contrast.

The San Francisco Chronicle weighed in today:

The 37-year-old publisher has been attacked from all sides since he vowed to turn the Light into the New Yorker magazine of the West. His hyperbole struck a sour note in the rural area of 15,000 residents, who live in such places as laid-back Bolinas, historic Point Reyes Station and Woodacre, home of an internationally recognized meditation center inspired by a big boulder known as Spirit Rock. The locals say they don’t like the idea of Manhattanites with pens hustling around their communities.

A new local newspaper (West Marin Pilot) is in the works, despite the Point Reyes Light’s publisher’s assertion (which I agree with) that “there are not enough advertisers to support two newspapers in most markets – particularly in the coastal wilderness of West Marin.”

So for all you visitors coming through Point Reyes Station on your way to the wonderful beaches and trials, know that the local community is alive and kicking.

Photos from top to bottom: Fallow deer from Mike Loukide; Photos of Robert Plotkin and David Mitchell, current and former publishers of The Point Reyes Light are from The New York Times.