Pt. Reyes Nat'l Seashore Creeks
History and Habitat

Habitat Types

PRNS contains numerous habitat types including estuaries, mud flats, sandy shores, intertidal communities, and variety of upland habitats.  The primary vegetation communities within the watersheds are coastal scrub, riparian woodland, Douglas fir forest, bishop pine forest, and grasslands. 

Fish and Wildlife

The Point Reyes Peninsula is home to numerous special-status plants and animals.  Mammals include the Point Reyes mountain beaver, which are endemic to the area and found nowhere else, Point Reyes jumping mouse, various bats, and whales.  Invertebrates include California freshwater shrimp, Myrtle’s silverspot, Point Reyes blue butterfly, and San Francisco forktail damselfly.  Steelhead trout have also been documented in Alamere Creek near the southern portion of the peninsula. 

Other species of interest include tule elk, a subspecies of the North American elk that is found only in California.  Historically, large herds of elk thrived throughout the grasslands of central and coastal California, but they were hunted to near extinction in the 1800s.  Tule elk disappeared from the peninsula by the 1860s.  In 1978, a small herd (10 animals) was reintroduced to PRNS.  Today, there are nearly 500 in two separate herds.  The largest herd occurs on Tomales Point in a 2,600-acre fenced preserve.  Roughly 30 animals have been transplanted from Tomales Point to the Limantour wilderness area.  The Point Reyes population of tule elk is one of the largest populations in California. 

Human Habitation, Land Use, and Resource Conservation

All of the land within PRNS is owned by the National Park Service.  Agricultural operations continue on the historical ranches, many of which are in long-term leases with former owners.  Drakes Bay Oyster Company farms oysters in Drakes Estero. 

The Point Reyes Headlands has been identified as an Area of Special Biological Significance by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Livestock grazing near erodible cliffs on the Headlands may contribute to excessive sedimentation.  The Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (MCSTOPPP) has applied for funding to reduce nonpoint source pollution into Duxbury Reef and Point Reyes Headlands.  The Point Reyes Headlands element of the proposal is to install fencing and a cattle guard, to make a minor headcut repair, and to replace the stairs made of pressure treated wood with untreated wood at the Sea Lion overlook. 

For more information on PRNS, call visitor information at (415) 464-5100 or visit