11-08-13 Ntl Pks Traveler: Int. Secy. Jewell recuses herself from DBOC issue

 

SAN FRANCISCO — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has recused herself from a controversial case of an oyster farm operating in a potential wilderness area.

Speaking at a youth conservation corps event in San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Jewell declined to comment on Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which has been in a long fight with the National Park Service over its right to remain in California’s Point Reyes National Seashore.

“Unfortunately, I’m recused from the Drakes Bay discussion and it’s also in active litigation, so it’s not something I can comment on, nor is it a place that I would go and visit,” Jewell said when asked whether she would revisit former Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to not renew the farm’s lease after years of debate over the farm’s effect on wildlife. “An organization that I was affiliated with took a position on that, and so I’m just recused.”

Interior spokeswoman Kate Kelly identified that organization as the National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy group. Jewell was elected to NPCA’s board of trustees in 2004, when she was chief operating officer of Seattle-based recreation equipment company REI.

Greenwire&nbsp

11. NATIONAL PARKS:

Interior chief recuses herself from oyster farm case

Debra Kahn, E&E reporter

Published: Friday, November 8, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has recused herself from a controversial case of an oyster farm operating in a potential wilderness area.

Speaking at a youth conservation corps event in San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Jewell declined to comment on Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which has been in a long fight with the National Park Service over its right to remain in California’s Point Reyes National Seashore.

“Unfortunately, I’m recused from the Drakes Bay discussion and it’s also in active litigation, so it’s not something I can comment on, nor is it a place that I would go and visit,” Jewell said when asked whether she would revisit former Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to not renew the farm’s lease after years of debate over the farm’s effect on wildlife. “An organization that I was affiliated with took a position on that, and so I’m just recused.”

Interior spokeswoman Kate Kelly identified that organization as the National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy group. Jewell was elected to NPCA’s board of trustees in 2004, when she was chief operating officer of Seattle-based recreation equipment company REI.

NPCA has been a vocal opponent of Drakes Bay’s operations at the national seashore, arguing the farm is preventing the area from becoming a full-fledged wilderness area and would set a bad precedent for conservation if allowed to remain open.

“Preventing Drakes Estero from becoming wilderness violates the spirit of the agreements reached between conservationists and ranchers more than 30 years ago, violates the letter and spirit of the law, and would set a terrible policy precedent that could be used to open up national parks and wilderness across the United States to private industry,” the group says on its website.

The farm is currently seeking an injunction from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay open while it continues its legal challenge to Interior’s November 2012 decision not to renew its operating permit.

In September, the 9th Circuit ruled 2-1 against the farm (Greenwire, Oct. 21).

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