12-11-12 WSJ Welcome to the Salazar Wilderness, Shame on the Interior Department

“The Lunny family, which has made major improvements to the farm operation it took over in 2004, has been hounded for years by a National Park Service with a vendetta so chilling that any rancher on federal lands should be alarmed. Goaded by a clutch of environmental groups, the Park Service has resorted to tactics that might have come straight from Nixon’s dirty-tricks department. For instance, the Park Service alleged that the farm’s oyster boats disturbed the quiet of the area, but the measurements used were revealed to have been taken in New Jersey—and involved jet skis.”

December 10, 2012, 7:14 p.m. ET

Welcome to the Salazar Wilderness

Shame on the Interior Department for trying to drum a family-owned enterprise out of business.

By MICHAEL MORITZ

After a seaside area has been designated as wilderness, when is it considered pristine enough by Washington’s standards? Is it after airplanes have been banned from flying over it? After electricity pylons and telephone cables have been removed, cars and bikers prohibited, the roads torn up? When hikers are forbidden access to trails, and kayakers, sailors and snorkelers banished from the water? When eucalyptus trees and other foreign species are eradicated? Or only after Miwok Indians’ arrowheads have been excavated and placed in a museum?

Apparently it is none of the above, at least according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Instead, he seems to think that turning a tiny portion of the lovely coastline of California’s Marin County (part of the National Seashore) into the first marine wilderness in the continental United States also requires destroying a family-run oyster operation that has conducted business in the same spot for eight decades.

So Mr. Salazar recently ordered the business to close within 90 days—a decision that will spell ruin for the Lunny family, owners of Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm, which supplies 40% of California’s oysters.

The Lunny family, which has made major improvements to the farm operation it took over in 2004, has been hounded for years by a National Park Service with a vendetta so chilling that any rancher on federal lands should be alarmed. Goaded by a clutch of environmental groups, the Park Service has resorted to tactics that might have come straight from Nixon’s dirty-tricks department. For instance, the Park Service alleged that the farm’s oyster boats disturbed the quiet of the area, but the measurements used were revealed to have been taken in New Jersey—and involved jet skis.

For years, Park Service officials have colluded with the California Coastal Commission to hammer the small oyster company with allegations about purported abuses and violations of some of the many overlapping, confusing and contradictory permits with which it is supposed to comply.

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2 Comments

  1. Tamara Trussell

     /  December 11, 2012

    Question: Was the estero designated as wilderness or POTENTIAL wilderness? And, does anyone here really KNOW the criteria for wilderness designation? There is a significant difference between actual and potential. There are also very specific parameters defining wilderness, none of which match the state of the estero or the original intended use of the park by visitors.

    Tamara Patterson Trussell aka Tami 605-321-4636 (M) 415-453-5050 (O) tamaratrussell@gmail.com

    On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 3:29 PM, Drakes Bay Oyster Company & the National

    Reply
  2. Remick H

     /  December 12, 2012

    We support the Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Mr. Salazar made the WRONG decission base on false environmental data

    Reply

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