Why I Am Resigning from EAC and the Sierra Club
By Bill Wigert
I have been a member of the Sierra Club since 1970. As an attorney, I represented the organization pro bono in two environmental lawsuits. I joined the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin soon after it was formed. As an ardent environmentalist, I venerated both groups: their policies were fact and science-based, and the EAC achieved a unique cooperation between agricultural and environmental communities. Sadly, both organizations have strayed from their principles, and I am not going to renew my membership to either.
The Sierra Club and EAC have knowingly sided with flawed science in the debate over the future of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Both have misrepresented applicable legal principles; worse yet, they have resorted to “the means justifies the ends” tactics. As just one example, both repeatedly make the false legal assertion that the Point Reyes Wilderness Act specifies that in 2012 the oyster farm must be shut down and Drakes Estero declared a wilderness. It says no such thing. In an op-ed published in this newspaper, co-authored by Corey Goodman and Mark Dowie, I explained why. My analysis is still valid today, yet the Sierra Club and EAC have pumped out thousands upon thousands of communications misrepresenting this fact.
The drafters of the Wilderness Act correctly decided that Drakes Estero could not be designated a wilderness. The reasons for this determination are still applicable today. To be sure, Drakes Estero was and is a magnificent treasure, but it wasn’t wilderness then and it isn’t wilderness today. A two-lane black-top road will continue to transport millions of cars, motorcycles, RV’s, trucks and people around the fringes of much of the estero. Wilderness? You have to be kidding.
The EAC was created to represent the interests of West Marin. With the vast majority of those living here supporting the continued operation of the oyster farm, the group has aborted its purpose. Furthermore, it has adopted tactics meant to vilify and punish one of our most respected families, whose members have in so many ways demonstrated for generations their good stewardship of the water and land. This is a family that cares deeply about West Marin.
The cost of this campaign to shutter the oyster farm, which in so many ways blends in perfectly with its surroundings, could be enormous. We may lose a valuable source of sustainable agriculture on which our community prides itself. We may lose a large part of our heritage. So long as EAC continues with its present leadership, it will not represent our interests. There are other environmental organizations in our community that could better serve our interests. I hope one of them will step forward.