12/07/2012 Marin IJ: Backlash to Oyster Farm Ouster Sends Message to D.C.

Editorial: Backlash to Point Reyes oyster farm ouster sends a message to D.C.

Marin Independent Journal Editorial

Posted:   12/07/2012 05:00:00 AM PST


Kevin Lunny, right, seated, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company, listens to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, left, at a meeting regarding the future of the oyster operation on Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore, Calif. on Wednesday, November 21, 2012.(Special to the IJ/Jocelyn Knight) Jocelyn Knight


KEN SALAZAR is far from the most popular man in Marin right now.

The secretary of the U.S. Interior Department announced last week that the lease for the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will not be renewed, ending 100 years of oyster farming in Drakes Estero.

His decision, while not a surprise, triggered a flood of local reaction that has mostly taken him to task.

The IJ has received more than 45 letters to the editor on the issue. They are running about 80 percent in favor of the oyster farm getting a longer lease on life. There also have been hundreds of comments posted on IJ stories online.

The outrage in Marin is genuine, but we don’t expect Salazar to change his mind, despite the reaction here and the lawsuit filed this week by Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., and his supporters. Salazar and other federal officials knew this was a no-win situation, that the government would be sued regardless of his decision. They would rather deal with a lawsuit by an oyster farmer than with one by major environmental and conservation groups.

That doesn’t make his decision right. It just makes it political.

His decision clearly ticked off local residents.

Most of the letter writers want the oyster farm to stay. Many authors identify them as environmentalists. Many have lived in the county for decades. They decry the lack of local control in this decision. They praise the oyster operation for being a sustainable form of aquaculture with minimal environmental impacts. They bemoan the demise of a longtime small business with 30 employees. Many were customers. Some said they don’t even like oysters but are appalled. Some question the Park Service’s overarching goal of returning Drakes Estero to wilderness, a designation that was part of federal legislation in 1976.

They are angry.

We don’t blame them. And this is the reaction in a county that has a long and proud history of protecting and preserving open space.

The Wilderness Act’s goal is to create the first marine wilderness on the West Coast in Drakes Estero. That is the basis of Salazar’s decision, even though he had the latitude to renew the oyster lease.

To create a marine wilderness area in the middle of a national park used by 2 million people a year, in an estero that is next to historic working ranches and roads leading to nearby commercial park service operations, doesn’t make sense.

National environmental groups have drawn a line in the sand on this issue of a pocket of marine wilderness in the middle of a urban park and refused to bend. The National Park Service even resorted to the use of bad science and heavyhanded tactics to give them what they want.

This approach, and the treatment of a well-known small local agriculture operation, is why so many Marin residents are upset and speaking out.

For the Original Article click on the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser:



For Related Stories [published in the Marin Independent Journal]: (if any of these links do not work, please use the above link to the original article, and click on the links there)


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