11-07-13 WMC Editor’s Letter to the Readers of the Citizen

In the two years I have been the editor and publisher of the Citizen, I have worked hard to provide good coverage of the Drakes Bay Oyster controversy. It’s a complicated issue with many facets, so it is not surprising that dialog on this topic can be difficult. It is dismaying, however, to see the discussion devolve at times into name-calling, innuendo, and non-factual accusations.

 

In the past two weeks, as the Citizen has reported, eight significant friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed on behalf of the oyster farm in its bid for a rehearing by the Ninth Circuit. Each brief addresses a different facet of the story, and all of them are interesting.

 

Starting this week, the Citizen will present a series about these briefs with the goal of creating a community discussion about them. Each week we will publish a profile of one brief and provide a link to the document itself.

From the Editor:

 

One of the joys of running a community newspaper is the opportunity to bring people together. The staff of the Citizen works hard to not only inform the community, but to listen. We pride ourselves on being fair-minded, and we work to present a variety of views. Our letters section is open to all; our only requirement for letters is that they not contain ad hominem arguments (in other words, no personal attacks in place of factual arguments). We strive to create a safe and respectful environment for community dialog, and nothing makes us happier than to hear that a reader has learned something useful from another reader or from one of our stories.

 

In the two years I have been the editor and publisher of the Citizen, I have worked hard to provide good coverage of the Drakes Bay Oyster controversy. It’s a complicated issue with many facets, so it is not surprising that dialog on this topic can be difficult. It is dismaying, however, to see the discussion devolve at times into name-calling, innuendo, and non-factual accusations.

 

In the past two weeks, as the Citizen has reported, eight significant friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed on behalf of the oyster farm in its bid for a rehearing by the Ninth Circuit. Each brief addresses a different facet of the story, and all of them are interesting.

 

Starting this week, the Citizen will present a series about these briefs with the goal of creating a community discussion about them. Each week we will publish a profile of one brief and provide a link to the document itself.

 

We encourage readers to read the whole brief, and we invite you to write to us about what you learned. Opinions, insights, additional facts; reactions, essays, letters; a few lines, a few paragraphs or a few pages—all contributions will be considered. We may not have room to print everything, but we will print as much of your writing as possible. Our aim is dialog. And of course, going forward, when significant briefs are filed in support of the Wilderness designation we’ll expand the coverage – and the discussion – to include that.

 

We look forward to hearing from you!

Linda Petersen-Managing Editor

 

********

 

Perspective: Bagley/McCloskey Brief Argues for Sustainable Agriculture

By Sarah Rolph

 

One thing that is notable about the Amici brief filed by William T. Bagley et al. on behalf of DBOC is the number of supporters, many of them local luminaries. Joining the brief are:

 

•           Former State Assemblyman William T. Bagley, who in 1965 authored Assembly Bill 124 transferring the Point Reyes tidelands to the National Park Service, specifically reserving the State’s right to fish,

 

•           Former Congressman “Pete” McCloskey, coauthor of the Endangered Species Act, who and intervened with the Office of the President to secure the 1970 Congressional appropriation that enabled the National Park Service to create the Seashore,

 

•           Phyllis Faber, a noted wetland scientist who helped found, and served on, the California Coastal Commission, and co-founded the Marin Agricultural Land Trust,

 

•           Mark Dowie, an award-winning investigative environmental and science reporter and resident of Marin County with a stated interest “is in ensuring that public policy and decisions impacting the environment are based on accurate facts and sound science,”

 

•           Tomales Bay Association, a 50-year old West Marin County environmental organization that supports DBOC “as a critical component of on-going habitat restoration projects for Threatened & Endangered species, especially native oyster restoration projects in SF Bay and elsewhere in the State, because it is the last operating cannery in California and therefore the only readily available source of shell in California,”

 

•           Patricia Unterman, owner of the Hayes Street Grill, known for its fresh fish, who says “The loss of the oysters produced by DBOC would have a  devastating impact on our mission, our menu and the expectations and pleasure of our customers. We cannot replace the fresh, local, shucked oysters from DBOC,”

 

•           Tomales Bay Oyster Company, one of two oyster farms located on Tomales Bay in Marin County with retail shops along State Highway One; its retail and picnic area is at capacity and its customers will be adversely affected if DBOC’s 50,000 customers attempt to visit,

 

*             Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture, an unincorporated association of people who believe that “a diversified and healthy agricultural community is important to our individual health and to our community’s and our nation’s safety, economy and environment,” and are “advocates for the use of good science and fair processes,”

 

•           The California Farm Bureau Federation and the Marin and Sonoma County Farm Bureaus, nonprofit voluntary membership corporations that exist to protect and promote agricultural interests in the State and in their Counties,

 

•           Food Democracy Now, a grassroots movement of more than 350,000 American farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming policies relating to food, agriculture and the environment,

 

•           Marin Organic, founded in 2001 to foster “direct relationship between organic producers, restaurants, and consumers” to strengthen the commitment and support for local organic farms, such as DBOC.

 

While these supporters are indeed impressive, the brief is also notable for its facts and its analysis.

 

The brief argues: “The Drakes Bay Oyster Company is a treasured part of California’s coastal zone in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Shellfish from Drakes Estero are an important part of the San Francisco Bay Area’s world famous local sustainable agriculture movement. Modern environmentalists hail Marin County and DBOC as a model for sustainable agriculture. Consistent with Federal policies supporting increasing the Nation’s supply of sustainably raised seafood, California, which leases Drakes Estero to DBOC, has declared shellfish cultivation there to be ‘in the public interest.’ ”

 

Please read the brief, think about what it means to you, and share your thoughts with the Citizen. You can find the brief here:

 

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. R Hart

     /  November 7, 2013

    Thank you Linda and the Citizen for the factual reporting. It is so proper to keep the DBOC in operation as has been thee case for decades. Remick Hart, Bolinas

    Reply

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