05-11-2013 Letter to the editor of Marin IJ from Jeannette Pontacq, former editor of Coastal Post

In response to Lynn Hamilton of Occidental, who wants to ‘save’ the Point Reyes ‘wilderness from our local oyster company on Drake’s Estero (May 11 letter to the editor), I would like to respectfully add …
There is not one millimeter of true wilderness anywhere in the Point Reyes National Park.  It has millions of visitors each year, in all seasons, and maintains trails and campsites throughout. It is a wonderful place, but not wilderness. It is a large park adjacent to a huge urban corridor. Having hiked in wild places all over the world, I am continuously amazed at anyone thinking one can just make ‘wilderness’ out of whole cloth.
Drake’s Bay, in particular, has been used for many generations by local Indians and immigrants as a ‘place of oysters.’ This is documented reality.  The Park itself has seen heavy use by cattle over the decades, some of which fell over those cliffs looking out over the ocean. Kayakers ply those waters regularly. Cattle all around poop in the water. The ghosts of long-gone Indians hover over the oyster beds.
The vast majority of locals on the coast know that it is important to keep our food supply sustainable and here. Drake’s Bay Oysters provides at least 40% of all oysters in California. If they are driven out by a false image of the Park and the locals, we will need to import them from up north.
Young people on ranches all over West Marin have been making hand-painted signs to show their support for this food supply. Opponents have been defacing them.  Opponents seem to think they have the backing of the majority of locals. Wrong! So very wrong! Coastal locals are a pragmatic bunch and support their food supply and tradition. Just because the Point Reyes National Seashore is there does not make it the arbiter of locals’ reality. This is not Disneyland!


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