2019-06-03 Muldoon’s Misconduct & the NPS

“Did Muldoon herself follow the safety guidelines she was appointed to implement?  Muldoon’s actual track record is a long list and large collection of safety violations, safety problems and safety misconduct.”

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

“Muldoon’s re-appointment to the NPS Safety Leadership Council hardly inspires confidence inside NPS or for visitors to our National Parks.  Under her leadership, the Wilderness at Point Reyes mismanaged toxic materials, some of which are still present on the public beaches at Drakes Estero.    The NPS Director and the senior leadership at the Interior Department need to put a bright light on Superintendent’s record at Point Reyes.  NPS needs more compliance with law, policy and procedures, not a growing stack of violations.   Secretary Bernhard, the new Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Rob Wallace and Acting Director, NPS, Danny Smith need to find out what’s really going on at Point Reyes.”  

https://russianrivertimes.wordpress.com/2019/06/03/editorial-toxic-safety-supervision-in-national-park-service/

russianrivertimes

Editorial: Toxic Safety Supervision in National Park Service

Posted on June 3, 2019by russianrivertimes

Do David Bernhardt, the newly Senate-confirmed Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Rob Wallace, the just-nominated Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, or Danny Smith the Acting Director for National Park Service (NPS) have the slightest clue as to what has been going on at Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS)?  Recent events reveal that they don’t.  Is NPS at Point Reyes working overtime to make certain they never find out?

Muldoon, NPS co-chair of Safety Leadership Council reappointed despite questionable safety track record

In a 28 March 2019 e-mail to all NPS employees, Acting NPS Director Smith re-appointed Cecily Muldoon, Superintendent, PRNS, to a second term on the NPS Safety Leadership Council (SLC) where she will serve as Co-Director.  Initially formed in 2007 by then-NPS Director Mary Bomar, it was implemented under NPS  Executive Order #50, which expressly states,  “We hold that the safety and health of our employees, concessioner employees and other Federal, state and local stakeholders….to be a core value of the NPS.”

The order sets forth that NPS managers across the country must “Meet or exceed all current applicable statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements”.  

Did Muldoon herself follow the safety guidelines she was appointed to implement?  Many of the requirements of the SLC fall under OSHA, (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Department of Labor, EPA and other federal and state agencies, so one might expect that given her position on the Safety Council, that her supervision of PRNS employees and contractors “meets or exceeds”  compliance with law, policy, and procedures.    It doesn’t.   Muldoon’s actual track record is a long list and large collection of safety violations, safety problems and safety misconduct.

Investigation by Cal EPA at Drakes Estero leads to referral of charges to Marin DA for prosecution

For more than two years, the Russian River Times documented a whistleblower’s report of serial failures by NPS and its contractors to comply with NPS safety law, policy and procedures during removal of oyster racks from Drakes Estero (Point Reyes).  The whistleblower, a marine diver, filed a complaint with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) after he received chemical burns from exposure to hazardous wastes while working on the rack removal project.  In mid-2018, DTSC opened an investigation.  Last December, DTSC completed their work concluding that wide-spread mismanagement of toxic materials took place on the NPS project.  The Report, not yet public, was submitted to Lori Frugoli, the Marin County District Attorney.  It recommends prosecution for more than 20 violations of law, some criminal, against the NPS contractors.

Whistleblower recovers back pay and contractor fined by OSHA

Previously, the Russian River Times reported on other violations of law on the same NPS project.   Contract violations, investigated by the US Department of Labor concluded the whistleblower and others were  shorted on pay and that significant safety violations occurred.  That same whistleblower, with assistance from the Foundation for Fair Contracting (FFC), received a settlement restoring his rightful pay.  In addition, in December 2016, shortly after the whistleblower was fired, the contractor on the Drakes Estero Project was fined for OSHA safety violations.

No bid contracts can be “totally non-transparent” and subject to abuse

The FFC’s Bryan Berthiaume recently discussed with the Russian River Times a growing list of problems with no-bid and non-competitive contacts awarded by the Federal Government.  The long list of safety violations at Point Reyes came from a no-bid, non-competitive contract.   Berthiaume also told the RR Times  that his organization is  actively following another scandal involving this same NPS contract.  The California State Contractor’s Licensing Board investigation of the Drake’s Estero rack removal contractor regarding serious violations of personnel requirements for holding their license.  He also stated, generally,  that the proliferation of contracts issued without competitive bidding continues to become a real scandal, and renders much government contracting totally non-transparent.  This has certainly proved the case in the RR Times investigation, which has been unable to trace the handling and fate of some 1300 tons, or approximately 76 truckloads, of contaminated sediment identified in the original NPS engineering Report for this project, despite  repeated requests to NPS.

According to Berthiaume, “ we’re seeing a lot of problems with many case of near total lack of supervision of some contractors, especially in the under $4-5 million range.  Being perceived as a ‘compliant’ contractor on these issues can lead to multiple contract awards and too often becomes ‘the gift of public money that keeps on giving’. While FFC’s work is involved mostly with labor and contracting terms, we see a huge problem on some  contracts with the issuing agencies failure to not only assure compliance with labor law and safety law, but also environmental issues or even basic compliance with contract terms, as is the case in working with the whistleblower in the Drake’s Estero matter.  This is not a partisan issue and it’s going to take Congress having a serious look at how DOI and other agencies really handle their contracts to even start to fix it.”

City of San Francisco complains to Superintendent Muldoon over lack of concern for public safety                                                                                                               

Upholding NPS policy  on public safety also appeared low on Muldoon’s priorities when she was temporary Acting Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area (GGNRA), after she approved a protest permit for a group and its members who were known to be violent  in Portland, Seattle and Charlottesville. In an angry August 15, 2017 letter from then SF Mayor the late Edwin M. Lee, and Supervisor (now Mayor) London Breed,  declared, “This permit has been granted without the necessary contingencies to protect the safety of the public and the assumption that the City of San Francisco will expend our resources to diffuse the situation”.

Safety violations, issues and concerns – a long list of them – are the hallmarks of Muldoon’s management at Point Reyes.  NPS reports on toxics were withheld from the Corps of Engineers and subcontractor employees but not contractors (direct worker notification of the presence of toxics is required by DOL law and OSHA regulations).  Toxic wood waste and sediment were handled in a manner in direct violation of California law, not to mention contract terms.  This allowed substantial time and financial savings for the contractor.  Tons of sediment, which NPS’ own Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) said was contaminated, are unaccounted for.  Complaints about workplace safety violations were ignored.  FOIA requests about safety issues have been ignored, manipulated or not answered.

Real safety and fact-based environmental leadership needed at NPS           

Muldoon’s re-appointment to the NPS Safety Leadership Council hardly inspires confidence inside NPS or for visitors to our National Parks.  Under her leadership, the Wilderness at Point Reyes mismanaged toxic materials, some of which are still present on the public beaches at Drakes Estero.  The NPS Director and the senior leadership at the Interior Department need to put a bright light on Superintendent’s record at Point Reyes.  NPS needs more compliance with law, policy and procedures, not a growing stack of violations.   Secretary Bernhard, the new Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Rob Wallace and Acting Director, NPS, Danny Smith need to find out what’s really going on at Point Reyes.  Senator Murkowski, as Chair, the Senate Energy Committee and Congressman, Raul Grijalva, as Chair, House Natural Resources Committee need to put the same spotlight on NPS adherence to law, policy and procedure.  Point Reyes is a good place to start illuminating the real quality of leadership.

12-22-14 “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” MLK

After nearly 100 years of oyster farming, December 31, 2014 will be the last day of oyster operations at Drakes Estero.

This is shameful and, in my opinion, the National Park Service, the NPCA, the EAC and, the leaders of those environmental organizations who opposed the continuation of the ecologically beneficial, sustainable, renewable, local oyster farm, as well as all those who mislead the public, are just this kind of dangerous! Joining those at the top of my list of dangerous is Judge Gonzales Rogers, for her kangaroo court shenanigans which effectively prevented proper hearing of the DBOC side in this issue in the first place.

My opinion:

  1. Fire all involved
  2. Strip them of their pensions
  3. Rescind the under graduate, graduate and doctorate degrees awarded any of them (for they have shat upon them, reducing those sheepskins to toilet paper.)
  4. Impeachment for Judge Rogers is in order, as well as cancelling her pension and, stripping her of all of her degrees.

At the National Park Service level, and from their involvement at the Point Reyes National Seashore level, those who should be ousted first and stripped of pensions and all letters include, yet are not limited to, Jon Jarvis, Don Neubacher, Dr. Sarah Allen, Dr. Ben Becker, David Press, Melanie Gunn and, Cicely Muldoon.

The EAC should be run out of town along with Amy Trainer and Gordon Bennett.

All those at the top of National Park Conservation Association and, most especially, Neal Desai.

Others that should be terminated and stripped include, but are not limited to, Dr. Tim Regan of the Marine Mammal Commission (see

11-07-2012 Marine Mammal Commission Report on Drakes Estero Tainted By NPS-MMC Misconduct at https://oysterzone.wordpress.com/?s=dr+Ragen

In my opinion, so many have contributed to the abuse and misuse of science, the law, and history, but these people stand out as the most dangerous and would be a good place to start. Add whatever names you wish.

Finally, in my opinion, it is too bad tarring, feathering, and being run out of town on a rail is no longer an option, that would be a fitting end to all of the above mentioned.

07-31-14 The Absurdity of the Removal of DBOC from the earth, or the dillema of feeding 7 Billion today, 9 Billion by 2050

On the last day for retail sales a ceremony was held at DBOC at which a number of people were asked to speak. I was honored to be one of the speakers. Below is the transcript of the speech I gave after introducing myself, informing all of how I came to be involved, and a little about my involvement through this “blog”.

 

New York State’s only remaining commercial oyster farm operates on the OYSTER BAY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, producing 90% of the State’s oyster harvest. The State of New York has designated the Oyster Bay area as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat. …. If there, WHY NOT HERE?!

http://oysterbaytown.com/places-to-go-things-to-do/

cover of Nat’l Geographic, May 2014

THE NEW FOOD REVOLUTION –

To feed our hungry planet, we must change the way we farm – and the way we think.

By Jonathan Foley

DIRECTOR OF the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota.

“When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.”  from pg 35 of the hard copy

·        Agriculture is among the greatest contributors to global warming, emitting more greenhouse gases than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined—largely from
o   methane released by cattle and rice farms,
o   nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and
o   carbon dioxide from the cutting of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock.
o   Farming is the thirstiest user of our precious water supplies
o   Runoff from fertilizers and manure makes Farming a major polluter
o   The spread of prosperity across the world, especially in China and India, is driving an increased demand for meat, eggs, and dairy, boosting pressure to grow more corn and soybeans to feed more cattle, pigs, and chickens.
o   As we’ve cleared areas of grassland and forest for farms, we’ve lost crucial habitat, making agriculture a major driver of wildlife extinction.
·
·        If these trends continue, the double whammy of population growth and richer diets will require us to roughly double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.
The author and his team proposed 5 steps to solve the world’s food dilemma.” I have taken his steps and included the validity of the argument to keep DBOC

1.    Freeze Agriculture’s Footprint…. Avoiding further deforestation must be a top priority.

o   OYSTER FARMING REQUIRES NO DEFORESTATION

2.   Grow More on Farms We’ve Got…. high-tech, precision farming systems, and borrowing from organic farming, could boost yields in several times over.

o   LEAVE DRAKES BAY OYSTER FARM RIGHT WHERE IT IS,

o   It doesn’t require high tech farming systems,

o   It is already 100% organic,

3.   Use Resources More Efficiently….. Organic farming can also greatly reduce the use of water and chemicals

       o   Oyster Farming requires neither fertilizers nor chemicals, and uses no added fresh water!

4.   Shift Diets…. Finding more efficient ways to grow meat and shifting to less meat-intensive diets…could free up substantial amounts of food  Curtailing the use of food crops for biofuels could also enhance food availability.

      o   Retaining a sustainable, renewable, ecologically and environmentally beneficial source of food production – OYSTER FARMING – will do that.  AND No one’s using oysters for bio-fuels!

5.  Reduce Waste.  25 % of the world’s food calories … are lost or wasted before they can be consumed. Tackling waste would be one of THE most effective options for boosting food availability.

o   Oysters come in individually, nature wrapped packages,

o   buy what you need, eat what you bought!

o   Even the shells are useful

§  whole they provide habitat restoration 

§  crushed they can be used

§  organic fertilizer

§  ground cover

Oyster production is the winner in solving the world food shortage dilema.

George Washington is purported to have said “Our country is an experiment” and he gave it 20 years.

I give this Wilderness Without Oysters experiment 20 years. It will be put back for both reasons environmental and necessity. We’ll have 9 Billion mouths to feed.

It will be too late for the Lunnys, their workers and families as well as all the ranchers and dairies on this peninsula – for the water filtration system provided by the oysters having been removed will leave them as the major polluter of the estero, and soon, they too, will HAVE to go, unless CONGRESS INTERVENES.

 

CONGRESS: YOU HAVE ALREADY REQUESTED INSTALLATION OF MORE OYSTER FARMS ON ALL OUR COASTS

CONGRESS: Don’t let this Empty Environmental Experiment ruin the lives of all these people AND EXTINGUISH THE AGRICULTURAL CHARACTER OF WEST MARIN.

CONGRESS, you have the power and the authority to reverse this decision.

CONGRESS ACT TO REVERSE THIS DECISION TODAY.

 

Write your congress person today, let them know you want this farm to stay!

 

04-10-14 Addtl sites for information & contributions to Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

Additional sites provide even more information on Drakes Bay Oyster Farm and their efforts to prevent the National Park Service from removing them from Drakes Bay.

You can contribute to Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-drakes-bay-oyster-farm?show_todos=true

 

For more information about the cause, please visit the advocacy site:

http://savedrakesbay.com/core/

 

For more information about the oyster farm, including how to visit the farm and where to purchase their award-winning oysters, please visit their business site:

http://drakesbayoyster.com/

 

07-22-13 Corrections to the Blog Postings Order

To all Followers of www.OysterZone.ORG

As you know, each of the posting titles is preceded by the original date of publication (to the general public be it news paper, TV or Radio, Court filing, legal brief, scientific report, whatever).

Some postings appeared in the order in which I posted them to the blog – which is not what I wanted.  Those of you researching material and expecting a reverse chronological order under any heading, may have concluded, incorrectly, the item you sought was not available. It was, but it may not have appeared where you expected.

I have just completed a review of all 288 postings and revised the “Published Date” (published to the blog that is) and made corrections to those postings with incorrect publish dates. This was necessary in order to have all the postings display in proper reverse chronological order.

Now, when you click on a menu heading such as Legal Documents, Scientific Reports & Investigations, Videos, etc., all items listed should display with the most recent first.

I have found one posting out of order on the Articles & Letters page and I have WordPress working on why this is so. There may be others, and I will be looking for them.

Thank you for your continued interest and support in Saving Our Drakes Bay Oyster Company farm!

Sincerely,

Jane Gyorgy

PS: If you have access to an article, a legal document, a report, or something else that is not currently on the blog, please forward it and I will review it for posting to the blog.

05-14-2013 Impressions from the hearing

They cut off the line attendees right before me but had set up televisions in courtroom #4 and in the cafe. Upon my arrival at the cafe the proceedings having begun, and Amber Abassi already speaking, I did not get to hear the opening nor the introductions. Impressions varied. Below are some:

The judge on left (from audience view) sounded as if he got it, the one on the right sounded as if he didn’t, the one in the middle, inconclusive.

Another said:

“Going into the hearing, I knew that this would be a legal discussion, with judges probing lawyers about legal propositions.  Judges circulated questions to lawyers late last week.  To read much into the legal probing is a fool’s errand.  They were tough on both sides.  They appear to be well-read, up on the issues and fully prepared.  All have reputations for being straight-shooters. “

One other person said something that made me laugh:

“A hearing is something best left to attorneys to describe – also a hearing is like going to a seance in a way, we are all trying to psychically read meaning and leaning into the questions posed by the judges.”

This one was special:

I find it fascinating (or rather, a sad commentary on the journalism profession these days) that none of the reports I’ve read so far have actually made the distinction that this hearing was about whether to keep the injunction in place or not, NOT deciding the case itself.  

 
Also, as an environmental studies professor, I could NOT be more irritated by the judge that asked, if the oyster farm was dismantled, “won’t it return to its natural state?” — as if its natural state is some fixed, identifiable quality that the ecosystem would just magically “return to.”  that judge needs some environmental studies classes!!!”

 

03-21-13 The case of the missing publication, Stewardship Begins With People

NPSG_999_D1963_full

Above is a scanned copy of the full publication

For years, we have been told the publication Stewardship Begins With People has been “OUT OF PRINT” (Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor Center gift shop personnel, as well as others) and that there were NO MORE COPIES TO BE HAD. I went on line and found the 22 publications in the series and that all the others were available as PDF downloads except for this one. There was an email address to request a paper version. My email requests for copies went unanswered. I phoned, and was told someone would get back to me about getting me a copy, but no one ever did. When I phoned again, I asked why I could no longer find one at the Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor Center. I was informed that the visitor center gift shops are independently owned and/or operated and they had no control over what the owners/operators choose to stock for sale.

This is the 2007 publication that extolled the virtues of

COEXISTENCE of PARKS AND THE PEOPLE WHO WORK THE LANDS and

HAILED KEVIN LUNNY as an ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARD

It even has Lunny in a photo with Dave Evans on page 45 and, on that page, it states:

“…both have been recognized for their environmental stewardship and innovation….

Lunny’s Drakes Bay Family Farms now operates an oyster farm on Drakes Estero.”

Yet Don Neubacher (see the Acknowledgements on page 58 column two, first line), the then superintendent of the Point Reyes National Seashore in May of 2007 at a presentation to the Marin County Board of Supervisors, accused Lunny of being an environmental criminal!

– SAME YEAR, not even five months after the copyright date of the publication –

From fourth-generation environmental steward to environmental criminal in less than 5 months?

You think this might be the reason one cannot get a copy at the very same visitor center gift shop of the park FEATURED IN THE PUBLICATION?

On Monday (03-18-13), I took yet another chance, and contacted the Conservation Studies Institute using the phone number on the inside cover, again. This time I got a live person on the other end of the line.

I explained to the person what I wanted and she put me through directly to Leslie Shahi of the Conservation Studies Institute.

(Ms Shahi is the second person mentioned on the same acknowledgements page as Don Neubacher but she is in the first column fourth line as the second person acknowledged for her contribution to Stewardship Begins with People.)

When I asked how much they were and how much for shipping and handling, she said they were FREE and there was NO CHARGE for shipping and handling.

I said I would like 10 copies and asked if that would change it. No, it was still FREE and there would be NO CHARGE for shipping and handling even for 10 copies.

After I hung up, I realized that the PDF problem might have also been resolved so I called back. She seemed a little cooler this time. I was told that the document was “too graphic intensive, the file size was too big to send as a PDF”. (Funny, friends who had scanned the full version and created a PDF out of it had no problem sending it to me by email – and it wasn’t even necessary to zip the file or use a large document sending service). As you know, I have already uploaded the publication to www.oysterzone.org – my blog!).

Yesterday, 10 copies of the original publication arrived by FedEx! Our tax dollars at work, isn’t it marvelous!

Please, request a copy, any number of copies, for yourself today.

Your effort will let them know we are still here, we are still watching, and we are still actively pursuing the matter.

Contact:

stewardship@NPS.gov

leslie_shahi@nps.gov

OR

Call 802-457-3368, ext 16 (Leslie Shahi)

Fax 802-457-3405

ASK FOR YOUR OWN COPY of

STEWARDSHIP BEGINS WITH PEOPLE

CONSERVATION AND STEWARDSHIP PUBLICATION No. 14 / 2007

Keep a record of the date and time you called, faxed, or emailed your request, the response, if any, and the date you received your copy(s) if you receive a copy(s), and let me know.

03-08-13 Bias in Journalism, How to Skew, Slant and Distort a Story

Want to see journalistic bias at work?  Want to see how to skew, slant and distort a DBOC  story?

Read on.

During this saga, has the Press Democrat:

  • Written a profile of Kevin, Nancy or the Lunny family?  No.

  • Written a history of DBOC?  No.

  • Interviewed Corey Goodman?  No.

  • Profiled DBOC’s workers – and the loss of jobs/homes and livelihood?  No.

  • Covered the formal complaint just filed (last week) by Dr. Goodman revealing that three federal agencies, two Inspector Generals and three Scientific Integrity Officers engaged in a massive case of scientific misconduct involving NPS science at Drakes Estero?  No.

  • Covered the formal misconduct complaint filed last November detailing the EOMs (Errors, Omissions and Misrepresentations) committed by the Marine Mammal Commission?  No.

  • Reported on the Cause of Action 70+-page Data Quality Act Complaint filed with the National Park Service last August (or the NPS rejection of it last October)?  No.

In The Press Democrat story of 03/08/2012 “Oyster farm flap reverberates far beyond Drake’s Bay” ,

  • did the Press Democrat explain to its readers that Cause of Action was part of a consortium of law firms – four actually – that represent DBOC and the Lunny family?  No.

But, the Press Democrat profiled the Koch Brothers, at least in part, but neither they nor their money are involved in any aspect of the NPS-DBOC-Drakes Estero suite of issues.

NPS routinely “cherry-picked” the science to distort the record.

NPS regularly “omitted” salient facts (be it “science” OR the existence of a “renewal clause”) time and time again.

The Press Democrat, in this and previous stories, did both.

The Press Democrat

  • “cherry-picked” the story AND

  • “omitted” a large bucketful of critical facts,

  • excluded a super-sized basket of important information and

  • in so doing, skewed, slanted and distorted the story published for their readers.

 

Oyster farm flap reverberates far beyond Drake’s Bay

By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s legal bid to continue operating in federally protected waters has broader implications than simply the fate of the Marin County family-owed business that sells $1.5 million worth of shellfish a year.

To Cause of Action, a little-known Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that has provided the oyster company about $200,000 worth of free legal services, the case is about curbing government regulatory overreach.

To critics — including another nonprofit organization, California Common Cause — the oyster farm’s challenge to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s authority fits into a national effort to promote for-profit use of national parks and wilderness areas.

Amid the controversy stand Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who own the nation’s second-largest privately held corporation and are well-known for supporting conservative political causes, such as the tea party.

[The Press Democrat failed to mention in the above statement that neither they – the Koch brothers – nor their money are involved in ANY aspect of the NPS-DBOC-Drakes Estero suite of issues.]

“It’s pretty clear there’s an overriding interest in this case,” said William Robertson, dean of the Empire College School of Law in Santa Rosa.

[The Press Democrat’s Guy Kovner, got his legal quotes from Dean of Empire College of Santa Rosa – an unaccredited college similar to the old Bryman schools. Remember them?  Hastings Law School is a quick 50 miles to the South and only a phone call away if he wanted real legal opinions.

Furthermore, Empire’s website says it is ‘accredited’ by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Law schools are accredited by the California Bar Association or the American Bar Association.]

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the oyster farm’s case, rejected by a district court last month, the week of May 13.

Robertson said there is reason to believe the appellate court’s three-judge panel may issue a ruling that could “expand, contract or eliminate” commercial uses, including cattle and sheep ranches, timber and mining operations, on some federal lands.

“Every word (in the decision) will be worth a lot of money,” Robertson said, calling the case “a big deal for the American West as we know it.”

The appellate ruling would apply throughout the 9th Circuit, which covers California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii, a region that includes several signature national parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

To Kevin Lunny, whose family purchased the oyster farm business in the Point Reyes National Seashore for $260,000 in 2004, the appeal temporarily rescinded a Feb. 28 deadline to shutter the business that harvests 8 million oysters a year from the cold, clear waters of Drakes Estero.

The deadline was based on Salazar’s decision last fall not to extend a permit that had allowed oyster farming to continue for 40 years in the estero, a 2,500-acre waterway with extensive eelgrass beds and a harbor seal colony in the midst of a designated wilderness area.

Barring a reversal by the courts, Salazar’s decision would ultimately require Lunny to remove and destroy $4.5 million worth of oysters, terminating mariculture that dates back to the 1930s in the Pacific Ocean estuary.

Lunny’s lawsuit, filed in December by Cause of Action, describes the oyster farm has “environmentally sustainable” and alleges that Salazar’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

Cause of Action, founded in 2011, is a nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization dedicated to “government accountability and transparency,” according to its website.

“Any time government is overstepping its bounds, our interest is coming in to protect taxpayers’ interests,” said Mary Beth Hutchins, the organization’s spokeswoman.

Critics say that’s not the whole story, pointing to Cause of Action’s refusal to disclose its funding sources and ties between its executive director, Dan Epstein, and the Koch brothers, whose global corporation has annual revenues of $115 billion.

Epstein, a lawyer, worked for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation from June 2008 to January 2009, then went to work as counsel for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, a San Diego County Republican.

Issa, a self-made millionaire, is among the wealthiest members of Congress. He and 19 of the 22 other Republican members of the oversight committee received nearly $150,000 from Koch Industries in the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Koch Industries, labeled a “heavy hitter” by the center, spent $10.5 million on lobbying and made political donations of $5.2 million in the 2012 election cycle.

Epstein left the House committee staff to head Cause of Action as it started up in August 2011. A year later, the organization filed a formal complaint alleging the National Park Service used faulty science to assess the oyster farm’s environmental impact.

In December, Cause of Action filed suit on behalf of the oyster farm, devoting 24 pages to a critique of the Park Service’s science. It also asked for immediate permission to continue oyster-farming operations until the case was decided.

District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rejected the lawsuit in February, ruling that she lacked jurisdiction to review Salazar’s decision and dismissing the claims of bad science.

“At best, the record before the court is mixed with competing expert declarations … and cannot be resolved at this stage,” Rogers said.

Robertson, the law school dean, said the wording of the 9th Circuit’s terse decision to hear an appeal suggests the three judges have “serious reservations” about Rogers’ ruling.

Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, said the case could set a “dangerous precedent” for the national parks and wilderness system.

Drakes Estero was supposed to be “on a one-way path to becoming wilderness,” which could be reversed by the oyster farm’s challenge. “That is very troubling,” said Trainer, whose organization wants the farm closed.

Meanwhile, California Common Cause is questioning how the case fits into what it calls a conservative-inspired movement to “privatize public lands for profit,” said Helen Grieco, the organization’s Northern California organizer.

That campaign, Grieco said in a Common Cause report, includes recent efforts to permit uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park.

“Is it just this little oyster farm?” she said of the Drakes Bay lawsuit. “Somebody’s investing a chunk of change in this case. Who benefits?”

Grieco, a Petaluma resident, said it’s clear that Epstein “has a connection to the Koch brothers.” But there is no “smoking gun,” she said, connecting the Kochs with Cause of Action.

“We do not receive any money from the Koch brothers,” Hutchins said in a telephone interview. The organization, like other nonprofits, does not disclose the names of its donors, she said.

Cause of Action has filed a dozen lawsuits on a wide range of issues, including a Chinese-owned company’s interest in setting up wind farms in Oregon and an Oakland lesbian’s attempt to get pregnant using free sperm from a man she knows — both thwarted by government agencies.

Its legal services are provided without charge, and Epstein, in an interview with Greenwire, an environmental news organization, said that Cause of Action’s clients are secondary to the group’s educational mission.

Americans tend to think that “regulation is good in all circumstances,” Epstein said. “And we’re trying to fight that.”

Neal Desai, Pacific region associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association, a party to the oyster farm lawsuit, challenged Cause of Action’s claim that it serves the public interest.

“Taxpayers bought the (Drakes Estero) property, paid to protect it, and finally stand to benefit after waiting 40 years,” Desai said.

The oyster farm’s lawsuit “demands taxpayers accept a ‘heads I win; tails you lose’ proposal where Americans get nothing. It’s a raw deal.”

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com.

Copyright © 2013 PressDemocrat.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only.

02-22-13 TO 02-23-13 24 Hour Vigil

24-Hour Vigil

 

Of PRAYER, MEDITATION, MUSIC, SONG, & FOOD

OFFERED for the intention of

Reversing the decision to close Drakes Bay Oyster Company &

Saving the Jobs, Housing, and Livelihood of the 30 HISPANIC Workers

WHERE AND WHEN?

6:45 PM Friday night, February 22 to

6:45 PM Saturday night, February 23

Sacred Heart Church

10189 State Route 1, Olema 94950

 

 

Not Catholic? Not into Religion? Don’t believe in God?

No Problem!

an Intention to Save the Oyster Company is all You Need!

Can’t Attend? Set Aside a Time to Join Us in Spirit

 

Bring Your Favorite Prayers, Meditations, Songs

If You Play an Instrument, Bring It, you may get to play for us

If You Cook or Bake, Bring Something to Share With Us.

 

The Freitas Center will be Open Throughout the Vigil Serving  

Coffee, tea, Hot Chocolate, and any food You Bring to Share

 

Come, spend a few minutes, spend an hour or

Spend the entire 24 hours with us!

 

You May Want to Bring Pillows, Cushions, or a Sleeping Bag

Wear comfortable clothes

All are welcome!

07-10-12 NAS Review of dEIS and Atkins Peer Review – Public Comment Period

I took the opportunity to travel to Irvine to have my 5 minutes in front of the new NAS NRC panel on Tuesday, July 10, 2012, University of California Irvine, Beckman Center.

Below is their statement of task with a link to the full document followed by my comments which have now become part of the public record. If you compare what I have written below with the document posted on their site, you will notice there have been a few additions.

Upon returning from Irvine, I was reminded that reports over the past seven years started out saying one thing in draft form and ended up stating something, if not everything, entirely different. I have taken time to reflect on that fact.

Prior to the  meeting we found the panel was not presented with the entire MMC report. All the appendices had been omitted.  As you know, Dr. Tim Regan re-wrote the entire MMC report coming to entirely different conclusions than the panel scientists who did the research. Furthermore, Dr. Regan relegated all of the scientists’ findings to  “Appendix F” . The NY Times wrote an article on it and called it “A Tale of Two Reports” .

If I had it to do over again I would caution the current panel, not to let them “Appendix F” their report. In other words, I would caution them, “Do not let them Appendix F you.”

“Statement of Task: (from http://dels.nas.edu/global/osb/DrakeEstero )

[The] … committee will assess the scientific information, analysis, and conclusions presented in the …(DEIS) … and evaluate whether the peer reviewby Atkinsis fundamentally sound and materially sufficient…. The committee … will restrict its findings to the strength of the scientific arguments in the DEIS

Emphasis added is mine.

Below, for the most part, is what I told the panel in my five minutes and is posted on their website. The video of the entire 4 hours, is now available on their website, and here on this blog under the heading “Video, Slides and NewsLinks”.

Questions of “Fundamentally Sound” and “Materially Sufficient” 

(Note: The above terms are not quantified, defined, nor are they used anywhere in the NEPA protocols or the NPS protocols. For the new review to have any substance, they must be objectively quantified and fully defined.)

1998: An Environmental Assessment (EA) and a NEPA process to look at tearing down all the buildings and rebuilding all of the facilities at DBOC resulted in a FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) rendering the current dEIS unnecessary in its entirety.

Why was that data withheld from the current panel?

 

I have 3 Sons in Law, 2 with PhDs, 1 is a world-renowned research scientist in Geophysics, currently at BostonUniversity, Uli Faul. Based on what has happened:

I Asked Uli: When reviewing another scientist’s work, is it typical to have to verify sources for information provided in tables, to have to verify actual quotes, or to have to verify footnotes?

Uli Responded: No, of course not. They are fellow scientists, we have no reason to think they wouldn’t provide the truth.

 Relevance: The current panel must verify sources, quotes, footnotes.

  1. Tables in the September 2011 dEIS for sounds produced by DBOC state specifically
    • the “source” is DBOC.
    • the decibel levels are Representative” of DBOC operations.
  2. The June 2011 draft copy of the dEIS identifies the sources as correctly as
    • 1995 police Jet Ski test
    • A Federal Highway Construction Report on Heavy Equipment.
    • The decibel levels are Estimates” of DBOC operations

Why did they CHANGE THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE SOURCES?

Why did they CHANGE THE DEFINITION FROM “ESTIMATE” TO “REPRESENTATIVE”?

WHY was this data withheld from the public?

 

Oct 2011: At an NPS Open House on the dEIS, I spoke with Tracy Hamm, an employee of VHB, the contractor hired to prepare the dEIS.

I ASKED: There is so little data yet so much “hypothetical potential future impacts”. Didn’t that concern you?

SHE RESPONDED: “That’s how “EIS’s are done; it is all about potential impacts since we don’t know what will happen in the future.”

I ASKED: “Really?” What about the science?”

SHE RESPONDED:  “Well that’s how they told us to interpret it.”

She is listed in the dEIS as the person responsible for wilderness, document production, and soundscape.

WHY DID THEY INSTRUCT VHB HOW TO INTERPRET THE DATA?

WHY DID THEY WITHHOLD THIS FACT FROM THE PUBLIC?

2007: Sen. Fein & NPS’s Mary Bomar instructed the NPS to have NAS review the NPS science 2009: The NAS produced their report drawing three conclusions:

  1. NPS misrepresented their own data (see quote A below)
  2. NAS found No MAJOR environmental impact
  1. In the Harbor Seal section of that report Dr. Thompson, on the July 2012 ad hoc committee, wrote, in essence, the controversy could be cleared up if we had time and date stamped photos of seals and oyster boats. (see quote B below)

A) May 5, 2009 — Report from the National Research

Council finds National Park Service “selectively

presented, over interpreted, or misrepresented

available scientific information on DBOC operations

by exaggerating the negative and overlooking

potentially beneficial effects” no significant impact

from oyster operations, recommends moving forward

with cooperative adaptive management approach. NPS agrees

B) “…the focus on these observations…would require a

data collection system that could be independently

verified, such as time and date stamped photographs.

This verification is especially important in

circumstances where there is an indication of a

source of disturbance that could lead to a regulatory

action, as was the case with disturbances attributed to DBOC.”

 

2010: Remarkably, a year after the original NAS report was published, Dr. Corey Goodman uncovered a three and one half year hidden camera program, instituted by the PRNS to provide time and date stamped photographs – just what Dr. Thompson stated would clear up the controversy.

Begun in May of 2007, continuing throughout the first NAS review, and concluding a year after the first NAS panel report was published,  they exactly the data Dr. Thompson requested.

A camera, strategically placed by Don Neubacher (then director of Point Reyes National Seashore) and Dr. Sarah Allen (one of the three authors of the original yet debunked report) captured activity by the Oyster Workers & Oyster Boats.

281,000 time and date stamped photos taken in one-minute intervals over a twelve-hour period every day each year during the three-month harbor seal pupping season.

Detailed logs and analyses of those photos had been compiled by park service volunteers.

Even after having been told it would clear up the controversy, why was this data withheld ?

When asked by field solicitor Gavin Frost, why the NPS withheld the data, the NPS explained that they “meant to but, forgot”.

Gavin Frost excused this oversight as “intended disclosure.”

So, what does that mean? DOES “FORGETTING TO” EXCUSE WITHHOLDING DATA?

 

2010: a senate appropriations bill, instructed the NPS to follow the conclusions of the 2009 NAS review but the NPS did not comply.

  • NPS dismissed the entire NAS review in one sentence stating: the NAS had not defined the word “MAJOR”.

Why didn’t they ask for a definition?

  • Additionally, the NPS summarily dismissed the photos in one sentence stating there were no protocols for taking photos.

  • If the photos showed disturbances by the oyster boats and oyster workers, would they have been included?

  • Does lack of protocols invalidate photographic evidence, logs, and analyses?

  • If protocols are a requirement for acceptable data, then

    • Where are the protocols for the soundscape and the use of a 1995 report on a 70 HP police Jet Ski as representative of 20 HP outboard motor oyster boat?

    • Where are the protocols for an oyster tumbler being equivalent to a rivet buster?

    • Where are the protocols for a hand held drill being equivalent to a concrete busting jackhammer?

In 2009, the first NAS committee concluded “no major impact” so one has to ask,

Is there data that exists today that the first NAS panel didn’t have in 2009?

a)     If so, then why wasn’t it previously disclosed?

b)    If so, why should we believe this new data given the kinds of data produced by the NPS?

There are three kinds of data the first panel did not have in 2009:

1)     Harbor Seals & Mind Bending Statistics

a)     Dr. Sarah Allen, one of three authors of the Drakes Estero Report (and many if not all of the subsequent versions)

i)        Published in 2007 her own 7-yr study of harbor seal haul-outs within 20 to 100 yards of heavy construction related to the earthquake retrofit of the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.

ii)      Her conclusion: “Harbor seals habituate to disturbances they deem non-threatening.”

iii)    Yet, she claimed disturbance of Harbor seals by DBOC workers and their boats who come no closer than 750 yds from the seal haul-outs.

Heavy construction within 20 – 100 yards 1/5 football field DOESN’T DISTURB HARBOR SEALS

HOWEVER, a 20 HP outboard motor boat 750 yds., 7.5 football fields DOES?

Others of her studies are cited in the Drakes Estero report(s). That study is not.

Why was that study withheld?

b)     Dr. Sarah Allen reported in her 2005 Annual Report on harbor seals at Drakes Estero no change in the harbor seal population and no trends were seen. The annual harbor seal monitoring reports are not cited in the Drakes Estero report(s).

Why were those reports  withheld?

c)      The Marine Mammal Commission report was reported by the New York Times as “A Tale of Two Reports”.

i)        They found the body of the report, written by Tim Regan, has little to do with the panelists’ findings.

ii)      The panelists findings were relegated to Appendix F.

iii)    When pointed out to the current panel, you were unaware of any appendices and asked for copies.

Why were these appendices  withheld from  the current NRC panel?

By the way, the MMC panelists, the actual scientists who did the actual investigation, stated :

  • Appendix F, page 2 “I don‘t think the mariculture operation is incompatible with an objective of having a healthy population of harbor seals in Drakes Estero.” Boveng
  • Appendix F, page 3 “The disturbance data set is likely to be suitable for assessing human and harbor seal interactions, but only over the very long term and perhaps only for disturbance in the aggregate, not for the rate, degree, and effect of disturbance by particular sources. The mode of collecting disturbance observations incidentally to the seal surveys seems rather susceptible to bias from confounding of patterns in the timing of the surveys, with patterns in timing of the various sources of disturbance (i.e., the surveys are non-random samples).
  • There is also reasonable doubt about whether the relation between harvest productivity and disturbance by mariculture activities has been similar under the two operators (Johnson and Lunny) of the oyster farm.” Boveng
  • Appendix F, page 12 “…harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are hyper vigilant and exhibit disturbance behaviors on a regular basis, often without identifiable stimuli.” Hayes
  • Appendix F, page 25 “As far as effects of disturbance on harbor seals in general, we need to remember that harbor seals are marine mammals that spend the majority of their lives in the water where they forage and hunt the prey they need to catch to make a living and survive, so seals fleeing into the water in response to some type of environmental stimuli is not necessarily bad. Being in the water is actually a seal’s “safe” place where the source of a disturbance can be “evaluated” for its level of threat or risk.” Jeffries
  • Appendix F, page 26 “I would therefore conclude that there is really no reason why oyster farming and harbor seals cannot coexist in a healthy and productive Drake’s Estero ecosystem.” Jeffries
  • Appendix F, page 42 “…this data set cannot be used to either directly or indirectly demonstrate any effects of the oyster farm on harbour seals or to demonstrate the absence of potential threat as restated by Thompson in his presentation to the panel. “ The hypotheses tested by Becker et al are correlational at best and causality cannot be derived due to the limitations of the data as stated above.” – Kingzett

 Why were these findings withheld from the current panel?

2)     The Volpi report – The FAA instituted a two-month study of sound recordings taken at the estero by a strategically placed microphone that ran concurrent with the hidden camera program.

a)     The microphone and the camera within feet of each other – unobstructed line of site, unobstructed sound path – I showed you the photo of it and it is included in the Volpi report as well as in Dr. Goodman’s submissions to this panel.

b)     The NPS summarily dismissed the audio evidence of no impact by oyster boats and oyster workers claiming a bluff obstructed the sound.

Why was this report withheld?

3)     Soundscape – soundscape did not appear in the first panel review in 2009. Furthermore, soundscape was not presented to you or us the community, and there is nothing in the Academy report, nothing in the Frost report, nothing in the MMC report about soundscape. Suddenly in September of 2011, soundscape is the “major data” in the EIS.

a)     Without going to the estero (as required by NEPA and their own NPS protocols) to take sound measurements of the actual equipment and operations of the oyster farm, the NPS claims in the dEIS

i)        DBOC operates at decibel levels the likes of which, if true,  would travel miles

ii)      DBOC operates at decibel levels the levels at which, if true, normal conversation would not be possible.

Melanie Gunn, who spoke to you today on behalf of the NPS (along with many others from NPS) and Nancy Gates of the NPS,

    • were highly involved in the dEIS.
    • they have toured the estero with Kevin Lunny in the oyster boat.
    • Conversation was held during that tour.

Why was this data withheld?

b)     NPS has protocols for sound measurements HOWEVER, THE  NPS used a measurement they called “Lowest daily ambient level” in table  4-2,  table 4-3, and table 4-4.

i)        Lowest daily ambient level is not among the accepted NPS protocols.

ii)      Lowest daily ambient level is not a NEPA protocol.

iii)    Lowest daily ambient level is not used in the Volpi report.

iv)    Lowest daily ambient level does not exist, it was invented by the NPS for this dEIS only!

Where did this level of measurement come from?

 Why was it used if it is not  the normal protocol?

Why did they withhold this fact ?

Scientists  are data driven – scientists must ask

  • Why does the NPS hide the real data?

  • Why does the NPS keep  misrepresenting data?

  • Why does the NPS withhold data?

  • And of the data given, scientists and the public must ask

    • Is it complete?

    • Is it correct?

      Does it compute?

    • Does it make sense?

    • Does it have anything to do with the facts of the operation of DBOC?

  • And one other question, WHY WERE REPRESENTATIVES FROM ENVIRON NOT INVITED?

    • Dr. Susan Roberts responded when Kevin Lunny asked her that very question with: “Environ was invited.”

    • Kevin Lunny said he asked the people at Environ if they had received an invitation. They said they had not.

    • Dr. Susan Roberts said, “I guess it must have gone to the wrong person.” (not unlike “intended disclosure” Dr. Roberts may now claim it to have been “intended invitation” .

From withheld data, to misrepresented data, to intended disclosure to having reports in this process start out as one thing and end up entirely different or having the relevant information relegated to an appendix, and now “intended invitation”, we  have seen so much. Haven’t wee seen enough?

I caution the current panel “Don’t let them “Appendix F” your report”.

In other words, don’t let them “Appendix F” you!

Jane Gyorgy

www.oysterzone.wordpress.com

PO Box900

Point ReyesStation,CA94956-0900

415-663-8646 (home)

415-663-8280 (fax)

415-850-4722 (cell)

jane@deepvac.com

The Twelve dEIS Comments (that you can make)

City, State, and Zip Code are the ONLY requirements when posting comments and

you can post multiple comments.

Below are twelve comments you can make, just copy a comment and paste it into the comment area at

 http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?parkID=333&projectID=33043&documentID=43390

Then go back and do it again, until you have added all twelve.

 

1

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

 

2

Potential impact on wildlife is not properly assessed.

The dEIS claims that removing the oyster farm would benefit harbor seals; that claim is false. Drakes Estero is currently home to one of the largest harbor seal populations on the California coast and the harbor seal population has remained constant for decades, according to Dr. Sarah Allen’s Annual report on Harbor Seals at Drakes Estero.

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

 

3

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company, especially the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

The dEIS includes much discussion about special-status species

It concludes that the oyster farm could potentially negatively impact these species

NONE OF THE SEVEN Endangered species mentioned in the dEIS live in the project area!

  • §         NO Myrtle Silverspot Butterfly live IN project area they make their habitat nearby, but not IN the project area (dEIS pg 187)
  • §         NO Red-legged frogs live in the project area: salt water kills them
  • §         NO Ca Coho Salmon live in project area (dEIS pg 189)
  • §         NO Central Ca Steelhead live in project area (dEIS pg 190)
  • §         NO Leatherback Turtles live in project area (dEIS pg 191)
  • §         NO Western Snowy Plovers live in project area (dEIS pg 192)
  • §         NO Ca Least Terns live in project area (dEIS pg 192)

The dEIS fails to provide an accurate assessment of the oyster farm’s proven ability to operate without harming wildlife or wildlife habitat.

The final document should reconsider all wildlife issues and provide a data based assessment.

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

4

Environmental benefits are misrepresented and/or missing.

PRNS has been rebuked for misrepresenting the facts about the environmental benefits of oyster farming yet, the dEIS misrepresents those facts again, calling the removal of the oyster farm the “environmentally preferable” alternative.

The dEIS fails to address the important ecological services provided by oysters, including filtering water and reducing nitrogen in the water. Drakes Estero is one of the most pristine estuaries IN THE COUNTRY DUE TO THE PRESENCE OF THE OYSTERS.

The dEIS fails to address the environmental impacts of the following:

  • §         Replacing a local, sustainable food source with 35,000 pounds of oysters that would have to be flown in from Asia each week to compensate
  • §         Comparisons of the carbon footprint of the existing food source with the replacement food source must be analyzed in the dEIS.
  • §         The dEIS fails to consider world population food needs.
    • o       1960 world population 3 BILLION PEOPLE
    • o       2011 world population 7 BILLION PEOPLE, 2.33 times greater in 51 years

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

5

Economic impacts are not adequately addressed.

The dEIS states, removing the oyster farm would cause “major, long-term, adverse effects to the California shellfish market but

  • §         The dEIS does not provide a complete analysis of these MAJOR, LONG-TERM, ADVERSE IMPACTS! 
  • §         The dEIS does not include these impacts in the overall analysis.
  • §         The dEIS does not analyze the impacts of eliminating one of the largest employers in West Marin.

The dEIS must assess and address the economic impacts of eliminating the production of nearly 40% of California’s oysters and the subsequent impact on the economy.  

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

6

Socioeconomic impacts are not properly addressed furthermore the analysis is flawed.

Geographic parameters used throughout this chapter

  • §         Switch back and forth from Inverness proper, to greater West Marin, to Marin in general, to Multi-County, to Statewide, and even to Nationwide.
  • §         This switching of parameters is used to argue that the job losses would be minimal.

Considered properly:

  • §         DBOC is one of the largest employers in the area.
  • §         West Marin is a community isolated 20 miles away from the main population of the county by farms, ranches, open space and parkland therefore, these job losses would be anything but minimal

The analysis presented here is insufficient.

This section should be reformulated and corrected for the dEIS.

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

7

Impacts to local habitat restoration efforts and endangered species are not addressed

  • §         The oyster shell byproduct from the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm cannery is the sole, critical resource for reestablishing native oyster beds, and for restoring CA Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover habitat, in San Francisco Bay.
  • §         The California Least Tern is a U.S. federally listed endangered species
  • §         The Snowy Plover is in decline due to habitat loss.
  • §         If Drakes Bay Oyster farm were shut down, the restoration operations could also be shut down.
  • §         The d EIS does not address the impacts to wildlife or the environmental issues surrounding the loss of these restoration efforts.
  • §         The dEIS should correct these flaws.

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

8

The historic cultural role of the oyster farm in West Marin is not adequately addressed. The EIS must assess

  • §         The cultural impacts of eliminating an institution that has been in operation for generations
  • §         The importance to
  • §         Park visitors
  • §         Local restaurants
  • §         Local food shed

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

9

Existing management policies are not considered.

  • §         The current General Management Plan for Point Reyes National Seashore, adopted in 1980, strongly supports the continued operation of the oyster farm, as do all of the relevant Marin County planning documents.
  • §         The d EIS does not include any reasons for, or discussion of, this decision to bypass
  • §         The existing General Management Plan and
  • §         Marin County’s planning processes

The existing management policies must be considered and addressed.

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

10

National aquaculture policies are ignored.

Shellfish aquaculture is widely recognized nationally, and globally, as having a valuable role in the protection of wild fish resources.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is encouraging aquaculture for this and many other reasons.

The dEIS should consider these policies.

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

11

None of the alternatives is appropriate. While the NEPA process mandates the consideration of a “no-action alternative,” there are no alternatives presented in the dEIS that qualify as “no-action.”

  • §         Alternative A forces DBOC out of business next year,
  • §         The other alternatives force it to shut down in 10 years.
  • §         The DEIS fails to provide a valid status-quo baseline.
  • §         A new set of alternatives must be created that meet the actual criteria for this process. 

 

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

 

12

 

DRAKES BAY OYSTER COMPANY SPECIAL USE PERMIT:

Collaborative Management Alternative

 

 

COLLABORATIVE MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVE: A Ten-Year Special Use Permit with Option for Extension; Rehabilitation of Existing Facilities; and Construction of New Processing Facilities

 

This alternative permits DBOC to continue to utilize onshore facilities within the Seashore (PRNS) pastoral zone to support shellfish cultivation in Drakes Estero pursuant to its leases from the California Department of Fish and Game [CDFG]. DBOC would pay “fair market value” for use of the on-shore facilities, which would take into account the value of interpretive services provided and the investment needed to rehabilitate existing facilities and construct new processing facilities. The rehabilitation and construction work would be as described in the discussion of Alternative D.

 

Under this alternative, DBOC will collaborate with relevant organizations, including but not limited to the NPS, the CDFG, the UC SeaGrant program, and other educational and research agencies and in developing interpretive programs and scientifically valid research projects as recommended by the NRC and MMC. This alternative provides educational opportunities for people of all ages, including Seashore visitors, students, and researchers, relating to estuarine ecology and mariculture. 

 

This alternative is consistent with the “national interest” expressed in President Clinton’s May 26, 2000 Executive Order 13158 directing the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Interior to expand and strengthen the “Nation’s system of marine protected areas.” It respects the California Fish and Game Commission designation, effective May 2010, of Drakes Estero as a State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), a protected area in which recreational clam digging and shellfish cultivation pursuant to CDFG leases are permitted. DBOC’s operation within a SMCA and PRNS presents a unique opportunity for collaborative research that supports the policies of the National Shellfish Initiative [Initiative] announced by NOAA and DOC in June 2011, and responds directly and positively to NRC and MMC recommendations regarding collaborative efforts to inform adaptive management of Drakes Estero.

 

This alternative supports the goals of the Initiative, which are to increase domestic seafood production, create sustainable jobs, and restore marine habitats. It provides opportunities for research as called for by the Initiative, “….on the interactions between shellfish and the environment in terms of climate change, ocean acidification, naturally occurring pathogens and parasites, and other factors . . .” This alternative supports DBOC’s efforts to restore native oysters in Drakes Estero and to study the potential for native oysters to withstand the effects of global ocean acidification now beginning to affect all Pacific coast shellfish.

 

This alternative sustainably supports the local economy by continuing to attract thousands of ethnically diverse visitors to West Marin every year and continuing to provide over half of the San Francisco Bay Area’s sustainably farmed shellfish. It protects desperately needed affordable housing for farm workers on remote Point Reyes ranches.

 

Under this alternative, DBOC will continue to provide essential oyster shell for environmental programs, such as the San Francisco Bay Native Oyster Restoration Project, the SF Bay Bird Observatory Snowy Plover Habitat Enhancement Project and the California Department of Fish and Game Least Tern Habitat Enhancement Project.

 

This alternative supports a landscape that is ecologically and economically sustainable. It is consistent with the natural resource management provisions in the PRNS General Management Plan, and enables the Seashore to collaboratively integrate ecosystem science and natural and cultural resource management to better understand and manage relationships among the physical, biological, and cultural elements of a working land and seascape, while maintaining its distinctive “sense of place and character.”

 

I support a renewable Special Use Permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Company

I support the Collaborative Management Alternative proposed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

DBOC must be allowed to continue the existing uses under the existing California Department of Fish and Game leases and regulatory authority. 

 

 

 

Collaborative Management Alternative Respond to the dEIS on their Website

COLLABORATIVE MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVE: A Ten-Year Special Use Permit with Option for Extension; Rehabilitation of Existing Facilities; and Construction of New Processing Facilities

This alternative permits DBOC to continue to utilize onshore facilities within the Seashore (PRNS) pastoral zone to support shellfish cultivation in Drakes Estero pursuant to its leases from the California Department of Fish and Game [CDFG].  DBOC would pay “fair market value” for use of the on-shore facilities, which would take into account the value of interpretive services provided and the investment needed to rehabilitate existing facilities and construct new processing facilities.  The rehabilitation and construction work would be as described in the discussion of Alternative D.

Under this alternative, DBOC will collaborate with relevant organizations, including but not limited to the NPS, the CDFG, the UC SeaGrant program and other educational and research agencies and in developing interpretive programs and scientifically valid research projects as recommended by the NRC and MMC.  This alternative provides educational opportunities for people of all ages, including Seashore visitors, students and researchers, relating to estuarine ecology and mariculture. 

This alternative is consistent with the “national interest” expressed in President Clinton’s May 26, 2000 Executive Order 13158 directing the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Interior to expand and strengthen the “Nation’s system of marine protected areas.”  It respects the California Fish and Game Commission designation, effective May 2010, of Drakes Estero as a State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), a protected area in which recreational clam digging and shellfish cultivation pursuant to CDFG leases are permitted.  DBOC’s operation within a SMCA and PRNS presents a unique opportunity for collaborative research that supports the policies of the National Shellfish Initiative [Initiative] announced by NOAA and DOC in June 2011, and responds directly and positively to NRC and MMC recommendations regarding collaborative efforts to inform adaptive management of Drakes Estero.

This alternative supports the goals of the Initiative, which are to increase domestic seafood production, create sustainable jobs and restore marine habitats.  It provides opportunities for research as called for by the Initiative, “….on the interactions between shellfish and the environment in terms of climate change, ocean acidification, naturally occurring pathogens and parasites, and other factors . . .” This alternative supports DBOC’s efforts to restore native oysters in Drakes Estero and to study the potential for native oysters to withstand the effects of global ocean acidification now beginning to affect all Pacific coast shellfish.

This alternative sustainably supports the local economy by continuing to attract thousands of ethnically diverse visitors to West Marin every year and continuing to provide over half of the San Francisco Bay Area’s sustainably farmed shellfish.  It protects desperately needed affordable housing for farmworkers on remotePoint Reyesranches.

Under this alternative, DBOC will continue to provide essential oyster shell for environmental programs, such as the San Francisco Bay Native Oyster Restoration Project, the SF Bay Bird Observatory Snowy Plover Habitat Enhancement Project and the California Department of Fish and Game Least Tern Habitat Enhancement Project.

This alternative supports a landscape that is ecologically and economically sustainable.  It is consistent with the natural resource management provisions in the PRNS General Management Plan, and enables the Seashore to collaboratively integrate ecosystem science and natural and cultural resource management to better understand and manage relationships among the physical, biological, and cultural elements of a working land and seascape, while maintaining its distinctive “sense of place and character.”

 

11/22/2011 MMC Report Overlooked Key Studies and Testimony of Dr. Allen

The MMC report, page 57, item (3) states

 The tolerance of seals for disturbance and the biological significance of such disturbance should be evaluated. At present, indicators of disturbance are defined as ranging from head alerts to flushing into the water. The existing information is not sufficient to describe the biological consequences or reactions at either end of this continuum.”

 In 2005 and 2006, Dr. Sarah Allen, herself an NPS scientist and co-author of all of the Becker reports investigated by the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of the Interior as well as the more recent Becker Reports used by the MMC, published two extensive and key reports on just that subject matter. Furthermore, Dr. Allen testified in a court case in San Diego about that topic.

 Report #1, 7 year 4 month study

“Monitoring the Potential Impact of the Seismic Retrofit Construction Activities at the Richmond San Rafael Bridge on Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina): May 1, 1998 – September 15, 2005”http://bit.ly/rpKpRu  Dr. Sarah Allen found the following:

1.      “Construction-related disturbances [as close as 20 yards from haul-out sites]… were attributed to two main factors; watercraft … and  construction activities such as jack-hammering, rivet work, hammering and the movement of cranes on barges near the haul-out site the total number of seals hauling out … did not decrease.”

2.      Harbor seals habituated to much more serious disturbances at much closer distances.

2.1.  The tiny outboard motor boats operated by Drakes Bay Oyster Company come no closer than 600 yards to the one seal haul-out in the estero; that is 6 football fields away.

2.2.  According to the dEIS section on sound-scapes, at 500 FEET the decibel level is 51 – equivalent to a quiet urban area at daytime.

2.3.  At 600 yards (1800 feet), the minimum distance of the motor boats from the one seal haul-out site, and the decibel level is reduced substantially.

2.4.  If reduced only by 10 decibels to 40 decibels that would equate to a bird call http://bit.ly/sC86dY

 Report #2

“Harbor Seal Monitoring at Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Annual Report 2005”, http://bit.ly/sLTUHU Dr. Allen found

1.      “Causes for [harbor seal] disturbance at Drakes Estero … birds most frequent cause, followed by non-motor boats [kayakers], humans [hikers], aircraft.” in conclusion she finds “

2.      The number of disturbances … remains similar to previous years and

3.      No trends are detected….

4.      Hikers and boaters remain the two most frequent sources of disturbance ….”

 2005 San Diego Court Decision:

“Dr. Allen testified that seals habituate (or anthropomorphizing) to disturbance sources that are determined not to be a threat.” http://bit.ly/rpKpRu

 

(Author’s comments:

Turning Drakes Estero into “Wilderness” will not change the most frequent causes of disturbances. The birds, kayakers, hikers, and aircraft will continue to frequent the area – 2,500,000 people on avaerage visit the area every year according to the NPS website.

It will however, remove the filtering system that makes Drakes Estero one of the most pristine estuarine systems in the country. Eel grass has double in ten years. It is not only a home for one of the largest populations of harbor seals on the coast but also, provides a safe harbor in years of trouble. Much has been made of “disturbances” however the greatest on record was in 2003 and 2004 when an elephant seal killed 40 harbor seals.

Removal of the oyster farm would however cause a major reduction in filtering of the waters putting the estuary in jeopardy of becoming polluted by the accumulation of seal feces as noted by three of the original panel of experts in the first MMC report. The dEIS does note this as a MAJOR NEGATIVE IMPACT however, does not study the subject.)

 After the Gavin Frost of Department of the Interior (Frost Report) found “violations of scientific and scholarly conduct”, and the National Academy of Sciences found “the National Park Service selectively presented, over interpreted, or misrepresented available sicentific information on Drakes Bay Oyster Company”, the Sierra Club and National Parks Conservation Association wrote to the Marine Mammal Commission asking it to reject the NAS report and do its own investigation. Jon Jarvis promoted Dr. Sarah Allen to the Pacific West Regional Office with the title “Ocean Steward”.)

 

 Neither of Dr. Allen’s 2006 – 7 year study, nor her 2005 Annual Report, nor her court testimony is mentioned in the MMC report or listed in the bibliography on page 61.

Decide for yourself what is going on and make your comments known about the draft EIS on the the National Park Service Website  by following this link: 

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=43390

11/22/2011 Wilderness? North America is 38% wilderness, Africa is 28% wilderness

North America – 38% wilderness

Africa – 28% wilderness

Check it out

http://anse.rs/stG5Bv

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=43390

dEIS Socio-economic Impacts in the dEIS

A core group of approximately 30 people works the oyster farm at Drakes Estero (with spouses and children, the total that will be affected is about 70 people). All but one of the workers are Mexican. Half of the workers and their families live at the oyster farm, and most of the others, with their families, live on the surrounding ranches.

For generations these families have been caring for the oyster beds at Drakes Estero. Due in great part to their excellent stewardship of the Estero, Drakes is known as one of the healthiest estuarine systems in the country. Additionally, the workers have developed specialized skill sets including the “Hanging cultch” rack method of cultivation particular to Drakes Estero, as well as skills based on the cannery.

The dEIS did not consider the historical and cultural value of the oyster farm nor the women of the oyster farm, who’s spouses, many of whom, work on the surrounding ranches and in the nearby dairies.

Should the oyster farm be removed, the workers will not only lose their jobs, but also they will have to pick up their families, and move to Oregon or Washington to look for work, if it is available, since Drakes Bay Oyster Company is the sole remaining oyster cannery in California. Should they choose to remain in Marin County, they will likely have to look for unskilled jobs paying far less. Furthermore, in that many of the spouses of the DBOC workers are employed by the surrounding ranches, if the DBOC wokers lose their jobs, the ranches will lose their employees as well.

Their children are enrolled in our schools, their families attend our churches, and they are a significant part of the social fabric of our small community of approximately 1500.

Being isolated from the rest of the county, our area is also known as West Marin. Rather than look at the community itself, the dEIS includes the entirety of Marin County. As you can see from the map on page 216 in the dEIS, the majority of the population of Marin County is centered along the 101 corridor.

Drakes Estero is

  • 29.26 miles from Terra Linda (via Lucas Valley Road)
  • 27.103 from Novato, via Novato Blvd.
  • 26.721 miles from San Rafael, via Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
    • 23.8 miles from Fairfax, at the west border of the core of the county’s population west of San Rafael, via Sir Francis Drake Blvd.)

http://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm

West Marin is serviced twice a day eastbound (6:30 and 9:35 AM), and twice a day westbound (3:13 and 6:30 PM)  by the West Marin Stage Coach. Even so, the coach terminates in the west end in Inverness, 5.56 miles away from Drakes Estero and in the east at the transit center in San Rafael. Transit time is 82 minutes – 1.36 hours one way. Add another 10 minutes to get to or from the estero and a one-way travel is 1.75 hours.

The core population to the west of highway 101 extends westward by less than 4 miles. In between the core of the population of Marin county and the estero are miles and miles of ranches, dairies and farms.

Upon arriving at Point Reyes Station, to get to the oyster farm, one has to pass through town and head south around the southern end of Tomales bay, then travel north and west approximately another 8 miles for Drakes Estero is further isolated from Point Reyes Station by Tomales Bay.

Economically, DBOC contributes approximately $350,000.00 a year in sales tax alone. When you consider payroll taxes, permits, rents, etc. the operation contributes at least $500,000.00 to state, local and federal income annually.

Marin County has a population of 252,409 (as of 2010 census) whereas Point Reyes and Inverness combined, boasts a population of approximately 1,500 (although the road-sign as one enters Point Reyes still boasts “Population 350” – perhaps that is discounting those who do not live here full time but only own vacation homes here).

Strangely, the dEIS does not even consider Mexicans, Latinos, or Hispanics minorities. (See table 3-6 on page 215 of the dEIS). Listed are only the following:

  • Black 3.2(% in Marin county) 6.2 (% in California)
  • American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 (% in Marin county) 0.8 (% in California)
  • Asian 5.7 (% in Marin county) 12.3 (% in California)
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0.2 (% in Marin county) 0.4 (% in California)
  • Some other race 6.9 (% in Marin county) 15.5 (% in California)
  • Two or more races 2.2 3.5
  • Total minority 18.6 38.7

The California Historical Society appreciates the oyster farm and its worker’s historical and cultural value. From October 27, 2011 to January 19, 2012, the California Historical Society is hosting the exhibit “Oyster Farm”, featuring the documentary photography of artist Evvy Eisen.

To find out more about the exhibit, go to www.californiahistoricalsociety.org

To view the Evvy Eisen’ photos, go to http://oysterfarmphotos.com/

dEIS Stands for Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Based on it’s name, one would expect, at the very least, data and evidence supporting findings of environmental impact.

In this blog, we will look at the top three major points to ponder, but first, the entire dEIS is available on line at:

http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=333&projectID=33043&documentID=43390

Being that the document is 722 pages cover to cover, when you click on the above link and scroll down to the sub-heading “Document Content”, you will find the dEIS is broken into seven PDF documents which you can download to your computer and print all, portions, single pages, or selected text. The documents are:

  1. Front Matter (74 pages which includes)
    • Abstract
    • Executive Summary
    • (Table of) Contents
    • Acronyms
  2. Chapter 1 – Purpose and Need for Action (58 pages)
  3. Chapter 2 – Alternatives (100 pages)
    • all ultimately ending with termination and removal of the oyster operations
    • missing is a “No Action” Alternative
  4. Chapter 3 – Affected Environment (80 pages – those “topics” deemed potentially impacted)
  5. Chapter 4 – Environmental Consequences (186 pages – to what degree, if any, the different alternatives will affect each of the impact topics)
  6. Chapter 5 – Consultation and Coordination
  7. Appendixes

 

The Top Three Major Points to Ponder (722 pages is a bit daunting so here are the basics)

1.  Potential vs. Data and Evidence (since the dEIS is a PDF, a search for words or phrases can be performed)

    • Do a find for the word “POTENTIAL” (remember potential does not mean evidence of actual impacts ever having occurred in recorded history, but might, maybe, perhaps,  occur – merely hypothetical speculation and supposition)
      • potential” appears over 700 times.
      • Delete the combination phrase “potential wilderness” then the word “potential”, as it relates to HYPOTHETICAL POTENTIAL FUTURE IMPACT  and it appears 514 times
    • Do a find for “data” and “evidence” (as in supporting impact statements) and you will find 7 instances
      • 1 reference to seals (which turns out to be a positive impact)
      • 0 references to eelgrass
      • 0 references to red-legged frogs
    • Conclusion:
      • There is NO DATA / EVIDENCE to support any negative finding whatsoever, be it minor, moderate, or major, on any impact topic covered in the dEIS.

 

2.  Chapter 1, Purpose and Need for Action, References Used for Impact Analysis, page 23 states:

“Secondary references are those for which evidentiary support is not directly traceable to a source that complies with recognized standards for data documentation and scientific inquiry. Secondary references can include documents that have not been subjected to peer review or that do not reflect direct on-site observations or measurements in accordance with a standard protocol for data documentation.” …“In general, secondary references were not used for the analysis, unless there was a compelling reason to do so.”

    • Legislation enacted by Senator Dianne Feinstein instructed NPS to follow the NAS conclusion of “no major adverse impact”.
    • The National Academies of Science, after reviewing the NPS report concluded that resolving the controversy over the potential harbor seal disturbances “… would require a data collection system that could be independently verified, such as time and date stamped photographs. This verification is especially important in circumstances where there is an indication of a source of disturbance that could lead to a regulatory action, as was the case with disturbances attributed to DBOC.”
    • In 2007, the NPS had in fact installed and operated cameras to record minute-by-minute color photographs during Harbor Seal pupping seasons. Over the three plus years the cameras were in operation 281,000 photographs were taken
      • Each photograph was logged and analyzed
      • Each photograph is available to view at the NPS website
      • Not one photograph shows disturbance of Harbor Seals attributable to DBOC operations,
        • kayakers, hikers, cyclists, etc., yes they have caused disturbances
        • DBOC is INNOCENT as EVIDENCED by 281,000 PHOTOGRAPHS

Conclusions:

      • The 281,000 photos and accompanying logs are EVIDENCE of no harm to harbor seals by DBOC
      • The 281,000 photos and accompanying logs qualify as Secondary reference material as defined on page 23 of the dEIS and need to be included
      • The 281,000 photos and accompanying logs should be included in the dEIS
        • per the NAS direction
        • per dictate of current legislation

3.  Becker 2011 report

    • Is titled “Evidence for long term spatial displacement of breeding and pupping harbour seals by shellfish aquaculture over three decades”
    • Has a FOURTEEN-YEAR GAP where  NO DATA IS PROVIDED.
    • The information from ’82 and ’83 are notes from a field notebook from a field trip.
      •  This source might qualify as a secondary reference as defined on page 23, however on that same page is the statement “In general, secondary references were not used for the analysis, unless there was a compelling reason to do so.”
      •  If 281,000 photos and their accompanying logs are not to be included neither should field notes from two years immediately prior to a 14 year gap in data be.
    • The “evidence of displacement” provided is evidence seals sought refuge by moving INTO Drakes Estero over a two-year period. A marauding elephant seal killed 40 seals, the remaining seals attained safe harbor within the Estero until the threat moved on.
    • Conclusions:
      • NO EVIDENCE EXISTS OF DISPLACEMENT OF HARBOR SEALS OUT OF DRAKES ESTERO.
      • THERE IS NO NEGATIVE IMPACT TO HARBOR SEALS BY DBOC

These three are merely the three major points of the draft EIS. Looking at each section within the report you will find more of the same, claims without data, hypotheses without substance, declarations without evidence.

Open Public Meetings vs. Public Open House, or A Tale of Two Formats

During my first meeting with Dr. Goodman, Corey provided me with information about a presentation he had made to the California Council on Science and Technology. He had been invited to speak about Trust and Accountability in Science and Technology on October 18, 2010. The power point presentation along with the audio had been uploaded to YouTube. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4ImdD4praE&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLB806A03FBD576029

(The presentation is in six 12-minute parts. Watch it to find out much of what happened in the DBOC saga up to that point in time.)

That evening, I reviewed the entire presentation. My first impression was he is the science professor we all wished we had back in college, easygoing, well spoken, interesting to listen to and interested in his subject. He is possessed of the kind of love for science that can engender a similar love for science in his student. My second impression was, the public needs to hear what he has to say. (Even if one is a proponent of shutting down DBOC, one should listen to this presentation and see the power point slide presentation accompanying it.)

A week or two later, while attending a  performance at The Dance Palace Community Center, I ran into Dr. Goodman, who came to see the show with his wife and friends of theirs. Dr. Goodman informed me he is also  jazz and blues pianist, that was why he came for this particular performance. the DP is one of the fabulous venues we have here in Point Reyes. (For a small town, we have an amazing amount of talent not only living here, but also coming to town to present, perform, and offer their gifts, talents, and knowledge.

I told him I felt he must give his presentation locally; the people need to hear him and what he has to say. If people could only get the information, answer a lot of questions, they would be able to make an informed decision and we might be able to put everyone at ease.  (I know it is hard to believe coming from someone as outspoken as I have been, however I do believe in people and their ability to change their minds when allowed access to all the available knowledge.) He said he had already been thinking about it and wanted to find a way to make it happen.

Over the next few weeks, he worked on the presentation, the ad and the invitation, while I worked on getting a venue, securing sponsors as well as moderators, and getting the word out. Once the dEIS was out and the public meeting dates were set for October 18-20, we decided on October 16 for his presentation.

Late in the morning on Wednesday the 12th, the superintendent of PRNS emailed me the NPS’ decision to decline our invitation . The local papers go to press on Wednesdays and  on the stands on Thursdays. A similar letter had been forwarded to the papers encouraging the public instead to attend the NPS open house meetings.

On October 16, 2011, Dr. Corey Goodman made his presentation to a crowd of 150 people at the Dance Palace Community Center. I reserved the hall for two hours since we had to be out no later than 4 considering the next group was scheduled for a 6:30 PM presentation and needed access for their set up.

Dr. Goodman spoke for an hour and thirty-five minutes before opening the floor to the Q&A. The Q&A lasted until well after 3:30, two and a half hours. Corey continued to make himself available to anyone who still had comments or questions afterwards, outside the building. As upset as people were by the fact that the NPS scientists did not show up, they were equally satisfied with the presentation and even happier with Q&A . People said they felt ready for the NPS meetings to follow beginning two nights later.

When we arrived at the first of the NPS’s public meetings, we were greeted by an army of NPS personnel outfitted in their  uniforms replete with metal badges and nametags giving the appearance of the event being “Policed” by the NPS. Several commented, “Where are their guns?”, many reported feeling “intimidated” by the uniforms. Personally, I appreciated being able to distinguish the NPS personnel from the rest of the crowd.

Some of us were puzzled by the greeting, “Welcome to the EIS cocktail party.” Upon entering the Dance Palace Main Hall, we began to understand why the NPS people refered to it as such. Around the perimeter of the room were easels, most with enlargements of information from the dEIS. Interspersedamongst those easels were a few easels with blank writing pads and a scribe stationed nearby equipped with magic markers in black, blue, red, and green. The universal first comment was “Where is the presentation?

Neither a presentation nor a Q&A was to be had and we all felt we had been had. Furthermore, the majority of the scribes at the three meetings were not even from our park, the PRNS. In response to our “you-must-be-kidding” reactions, we were told the scribes were there to record our “comments and questions” and the boards with the EIS information are where the answers would be. Printed copies of the EIS , we were told, were also available on a table should the answers not be found on the easel boards provided. That same format was repeated Wednesday evening at Fort Mason in San Francisco and Thursday evening at Tam High in Mill Valley.

I came equipped with the chronology I had put together on my own as well as pertinent sections of the dEIS so that I could quote page and verse, and particular pages of Dr. Goodman’s Sunday power point presentations. I took my place in line at one easel after another to have my comments recorded. Having come as prepared as I did, my questions and comments were complete. If I attempted to make more than one comment people in line as well as NPS personnel asked me to step aside to “let others make comments”.

Something strange began to happen as I moved from easel to easel. I was being followed. An NPS agent would appear at the elbow of the scribe, shortly after I begain my comments. He would  interrupt my scribe telling her it was time for her break, or asking him if he wanted a break, or telling her that someone needed her across the room. This happened repeatedly yet only two agents took it upon themselves to do so. As to breaks, keep in mind these were merely two-hour sessions. In all the union jobs I have ever held, from the Restaurant Worker’s Union to the Teamsters Union, to the Retail Worker’s Union, I had to work three hours to be entitled to a break in the middle of the shift however, a two-hour shift earned no breaks.

To their credit, most scribes responded by saying either she did not need a break, or he wanted to finish my comments before going. I even had to tell one agent, “She can take her break as soon as I finish my comment.” (Curiously, though, after recounting this treatment to NPS agent DelOsso on Thursday evening he responded with “Huh! No one offered me a break on Tuesday night.”)

My husband and I had a long conversation with Melanie Gunn on Tuesday evening. During our tete a tete, the agent who had appeared at three different stations as I was offering my commentary came to stand next to Melanie. With his arms folded across his chest he stared straight ahead as we talked. I let five minutes go by before stepping between Melanie and Frank to ask the agent if there was something he needed. He said no but he didn’t leave Melanie’s side for another five minutes.

Perturbed by the treatment I received on the first two evenings, Thursday morning I purchased my own easel and wrote up my comments. Where appropriate I  attached relevant slides from Dr. Corey Goodman’s presentation of the previous Sunday. All togetherI had six sheets with me when I arrived for Thursday evening’s meeting .

I approached Cicely Muldoon, the superintendent of PRNS, told her how my comments had been received the prior two evenings, explained that I had written my comments, brought them with me, and asked her if she would hang them up with the others. I thought she went a bit pale at first but then she said, “As long as there is no profanity and no one’s name is mentioned I think we can do that.” The tallest agent and the tallest scribe were asked to assist affixing my comments to the window where the comments were to be displayed. They both reiterated the admonition “there was no profanity on these sheets.”

Many people came to read what I had posted including all of the NPS peraonnel. With my iPhone, I eventually photographed every NPS agent and scribe making their way around the room to see what had been posted.

It dawned on me that this most likely was the first time most of them gained access to any of this information, no wonder they each came by and spent time reading every word and studying Dr. Goodman’s “slides”. Neal Desai returned four times to read my posted comments;, Gordon Bennett five times – I have the photos.

On a final note, the NPS has never opened itself up to public questions in a public forum at any time over the past four years. These three meetings were no exception. The people claiming legal bases for the NPS’s approach to the matter were not the scribes nor were they available for question or comment. The people involved with the Becker report(s) with the answers to scientific questions were not the scribes nor were they available for questions or comment. As scientists and authors of the scientific papers behind the dEIS, the NPS scientists have a government obligation to respond to scientific criticisms. Specifically, the Department of the Interior Scientific Integrity Policy (1/28/11) states:

“I will welcome constructive criticism of my scientific and scholarly activities and will be responsive to their peer review.”

 I leave you with a quote I found recently:

“In science, it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day.” (emphasis added) ~Carl Sagan, 1987

About the Chronology (Oysters, DBOC & the NPS)

To view the chronology, click this link:

Chronology 05-05-12 44 pages

The first page covers the history of oyster farming in Drake’s Estero as well as the creation of the farms and ranches in the early 1800’s, through 1962 and the creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The date of the latest update is included in the name of the document.

How did you get involved? Why are you doing this? What do you hope to accomplish? Those are the first three questions people ask me, and they usually ask all three, one right after the other.

Early July 2004, we moved to Point Reyes Station, part of West Marin, on the coast Marin County California, the county just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. Over my years here, I have come to know ‘community’ for the first time in my life. It began with the coffee hour after Mass on Sundays at Sacred Heart Church where I first met the core of the ‘community’ that I was to come to call my own. It was there I met Kevin and Nancy Lunny, who purchased the old Johnson’s Oyster Company in early 2005. What was to unfold was a story fit for a Carl Hiaasen novel except, you could not make this stuff up.

Over the next six years, I listened to the trials and tribulations of Kevin and Nancy at the coffee hour then would go home and try to recount what I had heard to my husband. My stories would be met with responses ranging from dubiousness to outright disbelief. Answering his questions was near to impossible for the story seemed too fantastic to be true as I attempted to recount it.

As of April of this year, after the fifth major business and family stressors in my new life ‘at the Point’ was finally behind me, I decided I needed to know what the real story was behind Lunny’s Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the National Park Service. I did not know who to believe, what was accurate, or who or what was really behind it all. I just wanted to know what had happened. One thing I do know is my memory fails me if I do not write things down so I started this chronology. Using the internet I found the history of the area, the farms, ranches, dairies and the oyster farm as well as some of the studies, documents, and letters relating to this saga. It grew to nine pages however, I knew much was still missing from what I had been hearing and reading over the years.

Kevin and Nancy Lunny accepted my invitation to meet and tell me their side of the story. My husband asked to attend the meeting. I explained I just wanted to understand what has happened, and the only way for me to do that was to do some research and get it written down as a chronology. On August 1, 2011, we met at the Pine Cone Diner in town at noon setting aside two hours. Nearly four hours later, Frank and I left with our heads overflowing with information and me with a pile of barely legible notes.

Over the next couple of weeks, I realized I also needed to speak with Dr. Corey Goodman. Dr. Goodman is the scientist who, at the request of Marin County Board of SupervisorSteve Kinsey, in 2007 was asked to review the National Park Service scientific report on Drakes Estero and discovered what he called “scientific misconduct”. Many investigations have been conducted since, much documentation is available on line, but I knew I needed to talk to the scientist behind it all. My emailed request for Corey’s contact information to the Lunnys on Friday August 12, led to my forwarding my sparse chronology to him that afternoon and requesting an appointment. I was welcomed into his home two days later. Frank accompanied me for he had his own questions.

“What do you want to accomplish?” was his first question. “I want to understand what has transpired and, if it turns out to be what I think; the first thing I want is Congressional Hearings. It doesn’t seem just what is going on however; I need more information to understand what has happened. If what has happened is unjust, I want to see justice done.” Our one-hour appointment lasted nearly four hours and in the months since, the chronology has grown to nearly 40 pages. It is saved as a PDF document so you can easily do a “Find” for names, dates, documents, whatever you wish. I will continue to add to it as the saga continues.

In order to understand what has transpired, one needs the facts, all of them, without pre-conceived notions or someone else’s agenda clouding the facts.

The public has until November 29, 2011 to post comments on the NPS website. Before you comment, please read the chronology, follow the hyper-links to the sources of information, watch the presentations, then think and decide for yourself what is really going on.

I am working as quickly as I can to provide you with as much pertinent information as possible so that you can make an informed decision and help justice be done through your comments.

Please click this link to see the chronology:

 

05-11-2009 DBOC Letter to Jarvis Goes Unanswered

2009 05 11 – DBOC to NPS Jarvis re NAS report (letter)

Click on the link above to see the letter.

When the NAS Report came out in 2009, Jon Jarvis, at that time Regional Director for the NPS, gave a series of media interviews (PR light, West Marin Citizen, SF Chron, ABC-KGO, AP and others).  His statements posed contradictions and raised a series of questions. The Lunnys asked those questions the attached letter, which went unanswered.

Jarvis and the Park Service didn’t even acknowledge the inquiry, let alone answer it.  Follow-ups to Jarvis, Dan Wenk (the NPS Deputy Director at the time) and Will Shafroth (the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the time), also went unanswered.

Jarvis, along with Neubacher and others worked, not to implement the NAS recommendations, but to challenge the NAS findings with the submittal of a petition to the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) predicated on the assertion that NAS, with regard to harbor seals, got it wrong.

The Sierra Club-NPCA petition to the MMC stated conclusions, but failed to set forth any level of detailed justification of what NAS got wrong, why it was wrong and why or how NPS had data and evidence to support their-oft-repeated (but never defined) claims of environmental harm.  That NPS “data and evidence” still remains elusive today.

 Judge for yourself.  How did the Lunny family respond to the NAS Report?  Professional?  Responsible?  Reasoned?  How did NPS respond?  Compare.  Then ask, by what authority does NPS “blow off” the Lunny letter?”

When NPS (Jarvis) failed to respond, did they/he violate a stack of policies, rules, guidelines and Codes?  How about the Presidential ExOrder on Cooperative Conservation?  What about the NPS Code of Scientific and Scholarly conduct?  How about Obama’s directives on transparency?  How about plain ol’ common courtesy?  How about manners?  There’s a conflict – of course there’s a conflict.  That’s a reason to engage, talk, come together – work things out.  Not NPS.  Delay, drag-out, drive up costs (remember, Don Neubacher once told the Lunnys – “I don’t have to pay for my attorneys…”). 

NPS – Jarvis – had no interest in upholding, adhering to or even considering the NAS report.  It’s conclusions on cultural issues represented a serious problem for them.   Same with harbor seals.  NAS, with the agenda manipulated by NPS and the table hopelessly tilted, still came down hard on NPS.  So, the Park Service had to dispatch – get rid of — the NAS report.  They had to purge it.  And they did.  Step one.  Go to the Marine Mammal Commission.  Step two – the NPS Draft EIS eliminates the NAS Report that eliminated it – in its entirety (even though Congress, by law, directed them to be guided by it).  Step three – just ignore the Lunnys.

Fast forward – what is known about the EIS?  Consider:

  • NAS Report – EXCLUDED.
  • 281,000 secret spy camera photos (and logs) – EXCLUDED.
  • 99% of harbor seal disturbances (all non-oyster farm related) – EXCLUDED.
  • All of Dr. Goodman’s papers, reports, letters, Power Points (not one cited in the 37-page, 400+ item DEIS References) – EXCLUDED.
  • Both of Dr. Sarah Allen’s studies revealing harbor seals habituate to disturbances they consider non threatening as well as . – EXCLUDED

That’s just for starters. Excluding the inconvenient is the real theme of the DEIS.

%d bloggers like this: