Media Contacts: Tina Walker
Dr. Corey Goodman
Two Significant Friend-of-Court Briefs Filed in Support of Drakes Bay Oyster
Eminent Scientist Dr. Corey Goodman Details “Fictional Narrative” of Environmental Harm
Environmental Planning Expert Dr. Laura Watt Documents Legislative History
INVERNESS, CALIF. — Drakes Bay Oyster Company announced today the filing of two more significant Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in support of its petition requesting an En Banc hearing of its case in the Ninth Circuit. These two new briefs come on the heels of another brief filed earlier this week by a coalition of former legislators, environmentalists, and proponents of the sustainable agriculture practices by Drakes Bay. The historic oyster farm is fighting for an injunction to remain open in the face of Park Service wrongdoing while its lawsuit against the agency proceeds.
The first brief is signed by Dr. Corey Goodman, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, former Professor at Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley, current Adjunct Professor at the University of California San Francisco, and former Chair of the National Research Council’s Board on Life Sciences. Dr. Goodman’s brief describes in detail the misuse of science by the National Park Service (NPS). Again and again NPS and its supporters have made provocative claims of harm caused by the oyster farm, but each time those claims had to be withdrawn after rebukes by the National Academy of Sciences, the Solicitor’s Office, the Inspector General, or Congress. “To this day,” the brief argues, “NPS and their supporters continue to recite a fictional narrative that they have evidence of environmental harm, when they have no such evidence. … NPS spent millions of dollars searching for adverse environmental impacts that do not exist.”
In fact, as the brief observes, oysters and other shellfish are part of the environmental baseline for Drakes Estero, they filter the water, and they are good for the environment. That is why oysters are being restored in the Chesapeake and in many other coastal estuaries around the country and around the world.
The second brief is signed by Dr. Laura Watt, a historian and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies and Planning at Sonoma State University. Her brief shows why Judge Watford, in his dissenting opinion in last month’s split decision against the oyster farm, correctly concluded that in the Point Reyes wilderness legislation of 1976, “all indications are that Congress viewed the oyster farm as a beneficial, pre-existing use whose continuation was fully compatible with wilderness status.” The brief argues that the Point Reyes National Seashore was established with the explicit intention to protect local agriculture, including aquaculture, rather than to erode or remove it. The brief also explains that, even if Drakes Estero were to be converted to full “wilderness” status, the wilderness laws still allow the oyster farm to continue operation.
“Nowhere in the legislative history does anyone make a specific objection to the oyster farm or discuss an end to its operation in the future;” the brief argues, “nor did Congress or the public give any indication that wilderness designation would be hindered by the farm’s continued presence.”
About Drakes Bay Oyster Company
The historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the community for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased Drakes Bay in 2004. Modern environmentalists and proponents of sustainable agriculture praise Drakes Bay Oyster as a superb example of how people can produce high-quality food in harmony with the environment. The firm produces approximately one third of all oysters grown in California, and employs 30 members of the community. The Lunnys also contribute the oyster shells that make possible the restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay and the oyster shells used to create habitat for the Snowy Plover and Least Tern. As the last oyster cannery in California, Drakes Bay is the only local (and thus the only safe and affordable) source of these shells. The Lunny family is proud of its contributions to a sustainable food model that conserves and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.