John Hart: An Island in Time, 50 Years of Point Reyes National Seashore, 2012, Lighthouse Press
In 1976, the estero had been denied … full wilderness classification environmentalist sought and instead given a status never before mentioned in a law: “potential wilderness”. “…meant …would take instant effect IF the oyster farm departed. Did it also mean that the farm SHOULD depart?
The conservations of the day did not think so.
- Sierra Club: “The water area can be put under the Wilderness Act even while the oyster culture is continued – it will be a prior existing, non-conforming use.”
- The Citizens Advisory Commission: asked for specific language in the legislation to permit “operation of Johnson’s Oyster Farm including the use of motorboats and the repair and construction of oyster racks and other activities in conformance with the terms of the existing 1,000 acres lease from the State.
- Both houses of Congress at Senate Hearing on wilderness bill, said that the oysters should stay.
- Pete McCloskey and John Burton, authors of the original legislation confirm the intent to keep the oyster farm
A key advisor to the park, the Dept of Interior Field Solicitor in SF, had reviewed the record in 2004.
- Twenty years earlier, Ralph G. Mihan had underlined Congress’ “INTENTION TO MAINTAIN LAND-BASED AGRICULTURE IN THE PARK”.
- This time Mihan reported to Superintendent Neubacher: “The Park Service is mandated…to convert potential wilderness…to wilderness status as soon as the non-conforming use can be terminated.
- Congress, of course, can issue new instructions…and Senator Feinstein…did. In a rider attached to an appropriations bill, it authorized the Secretary of the Interior to renew the oyster company’s lease, on the existing terms, for a decade – if he chose.”
Emphasis added is mine.