1976 Senate Hearings on the Point Reyes Wilderness legislation 1975 & 1976

PRNS wilderness hearings senate 1976

Above, is the link to the Senate Hearings on the Point Reyes Wilderness Legislation in 1975 and 1976.

In it you will find letters of support for continuation of the oyster farm from the following:

page 356

  •  Jerry Friedman

    • Representative of :

      • ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION COMMITTEE OF WEST MARIN

      • Marin Conservation League

      • Tomales Bay Association

      • Inverness Association

      • League of Women Voters

      • Bay Area Organizations:

        • Environmental Forum, Marin & Sonoma branches

        • Assemblyman Michael Wornum

    • Chairman of the Marin County Planning Commission

    • Representative of Congressman John Burton on all matters relevant to the House counterpart of S. 2472 H.R. 8003

    • Resident of West Marin

(continued at the top of page 357:)

” These organizations not only support S. 2472, but they wholeheartedly endorse the wilderness recommendations of the GGNRA Citizens Advisory Commission….”

“3. All the organizations have deep and serious concerns over the lack of protection presently afforded to the tidal zone at Point Reyes. Such areas as Drake’s and Limantour Estero along with the seal rookery at Double Point deserve wilderness status. The State’s interests in these areas has been minimal with the exception of Limantour Estero which is a Research Natural Area, and we note little activity by the State in the area of patrol or marine resource monitoring during the past years. We accordingly hope that the tidal zone will be managed as wilderness area and we find this approach consistent with the State’s reservation of fishing and mineral rights. We wish to note the following points in this regard:

A.  S.  2472 would allow the continued use and operation of Johnson’s Oyster Company in Drake’s Estero.”

E.  We note nothing in the law which precludes the Congress from designating the tidal zone as wilderness despite the reservation of fishing and mineral rights….”

Page 358:

“….It is rare that so many organizations have agreed upon wilderness legislation for a given area. It is also unusual that such wilderness status DOES NOT IN ANY WAY INTERFERE WITH THE MANNER IN WHICH THE PUBLIC PRESENTLY USES THAT PARK….”

This is followed in the record on page 358 – 361 by the following:

 

 

“STATEMENT OF JOHN MITCHELL, SUBCOMMITTEE ON WILDERNESS, [GGNRA] CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMISSION….

 

Statement of Frank C. Boerger,

Chairman, Golden Gate National Recreation Area Citizen’s Advisory Commission

15 person Commission appointed in January 1975 by Secretary of Interior in accordance with the law establishing the Recreation Area.

“….The balancing of the various interests represented by our recommendations was derived from a series of public hearings and subcommittee task force meetings. The compromises presented have won acceptance from representatives of each sector of the public that expressed concern….”

DESCRIPTION OF THE RECOMMENDED WILDERNESS AREA

“….An important factor in considering wilderness for the seashore was the intent of the commission that desirable existing uses be allowed to continue…..”

“….Two wilderness units are recommended for the northern half of the Seashore. They are separated by an area that includes the “pastoral zone” (designated in the enabling legislation to continue to accommodate ranching activities) and the access roads that serve most of the Seashore’s popular beaches. The first unit includes…Drakes and Limantour Esteros, and the lands that connect those features.”

NONCONFORMING USES

“Two activities presently carried on within the seashore existed prior to its establishment as a park and have since been considered desirable by both the public and park managers. Because they both entail use of motorized equipment, specific provision should be made in wilderness legislation to allow the following uses to continue unrestrained by wilderness designation:

1 Ranching operations on that portion of the “pastoral zone” that falls within the proposed wilderness…..

2 Operation of Johnson’s Oyster Farm including the use of motorboats and the repair and construction of oyster racks and other activities in conformance with the terms of the existing 1,000 acre lease from the State of California.”

NOTE:

The final bill designated Drakes Estero as only “potential wilderness”.

The Interior Department told Congress that Drakes Estero could not be full wilderness until California gave up its rights there–which it has NOT done.

08-07-13 Marinscope Drakes Requests Reconsideration of Misrepresentations by CCC

“Drakes Bay Oyster Company filed a motion last week in Marin County Superior Court requesting alleged misrepresentations made by the California Coastal Commission are reconsidered before the court makes its final ruling.

‘Those allegations have been repeatedly proven false by the nation’s top scientists, and many are refuted by the Commission’s own reports,” Lunny said. “We respectfully request that the court consider all of the evidence before making its final decision.’”

 

Drakes requests reconsideration

Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 5:33 pm

By Marinscope staff | 0 comments

Drakes Bay Oyster Company filed a motion last week in Marin County Superior Court requesting alleged misrepresentations made by the California Coastal Commission are reconsidered before the court makes its final ruling.

The motion aims to correct four false assertions about the environmental harm of the oyster farm made by the CCC in February 2013. The motion claims the CCC has presented no data to back up its assertions.

 “These misrepresentations by the Coastal Commission are the same false charges that have been leveled for years by the Park Service,” Drakes owner Kevin Lunny said.

First, the motion refutes a claim that Drakes has exceeded the shellfish-production limits of a consent order issued in 2007.

Second, it refutes a claim that Drakes’ boats operate too close to neighboring harbor seals.

Third, the motion refutes a claim that the oyster farm is “throwing garbage” into the Estero, clarifying that the plastic materials that wash up on shore are from the open ocean and a previous owner. Lastly, it challenges the assertion made by the CCC that Drakes is damaging the ecology of Drakes Estero.

“Those allegations have been repeatedly proven false by the nation’s top scientists, and many are refuted by the Commission’s own reports,” Lunny said. “We respectfully request that the court consider all of the evidence before making its final decision.”

11-06-75 Document shows EAC founder Jerry Friedman Supported Oyster Farm

EAC on wilderness

(Above is the link to the pages referred to below)

This quote is taken from the letter submitted to “Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Chairman of the Senate Parks and Recreation Subcommittee”

made a part of the record for “Hearings on Point Reyes Wilderness Legislation, Before the Subcommittee on Parks and Recreation of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, United States Senate, Ninety-Fourth Congress, 2d Session”

letter addressed to Hon. J. Bennett Johnston, Chairman, Parks and Recreation Subcommittee, Washington, D.C.

found on page 356, in his opening paragraph (emphasis added for clarity):

Mr. Chariman: My name is Jerry Friedman. I am a resident of West Marin and am

  • serving my second term as Chairman of the Marin County Planning Commission
  • During the past four months I have been representing Congressman John Burton on all matters relevant to the House counterpart of S. 2472 H.R. 8003.
  • Today I am here representing the following:
    • Marin Conservation League
    • Tomales Bay Association
    • Inverness Association
    • ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION COMMITTEE OF WEST MARIN
    • League of Women Voters
    • Bay Area:
      • Environmental Forum, Marin & Sonoma branches
      • Assemblyman Michael Wornum

(continued at the top of page 357:)

” These organizations not only support S. 2472, but they wholeheartedly endorse the wilderness recommendations of the GGNRA Citizens Advisory Commission….”

“3. All the organizations have deep and serious concerns over the lack of protection presently afforded to the tidal zone at Point Reyes. Such areas as Drake’s and Limantour Estero along with the seal rookery at Double Point deserve wilderness status. The State’s interests in these areas has been minimal with the exception of Limantour Estero which is a Research Natural Area, and we note little activity by the State in the area of patrol or marine resource monitoring during the past years. We accordingly hope that the tidal zone will be managed as wilderness area and we find this approach consistent with the State’s reservation of fishing and mineral rights. We wish to note the following points in this regard:

A.  S.  2472 would allow the continued use and operation of Johnson’s Oyster Company in Drake’s Estero.”

E.  We note nothing in the law which precludes the Congress from designating the tidal zone as wilderness despite the reservation of fishing and mineral rights….”

Page 358:

“….It is rare that so many organizations have agreed upon wilderness legislation for a given area. It is also unusual that such wilderness status DOES NOT IN ANY WAY INTERFERE WITH THE MANNER IN WHICH THE PUBLIC PRESENTLY USES THAT PARK….”

This is followed in the record on page 358 – 361 by the following:

“STATEMENT OF JOHN MITCHELL, SUBCOMMITTEE ON WILDERNESS, [GGNRA] CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMISSION….a fifteen-person Commission appointed in January 1975 by the Secretary of the Interior in accordance with the law establishing the Recreation Area….”

“….The balancing of the various interests represented by our recommendations was derived from a series of public hearings and subcommittee task force meetings. The compromises presented have won acceptance from representatives of each sector of the public that expressed concern. It is therefore hoped that the entire recommendation can be included in the legislation and the Committee report, so that the special provisions necessary at Point Reyes are firmly established. In that way, future administrative decisions can be assured of being in consonance with the principles and the details recommended.

07-25-13 Point Reyes Light, Why I am Resigning from EAC & Sierra Club by Wigert

Why I Am Resigning from EAC and the Sierra Club

By Bill Wigert

I have been a member of the Sierra Club since 1970. As an attorney, I represented the organization pro bono in two environmental lawsuits. I joined the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin soon after it was formed. As an ardent environmentalist, I venerated both groups: their policies were fact and science-based, and the EAC achieved a unique cooperation between agricultural and environmental communities. Sadly, both organizations have strayed from their principles, and I am not going to renew my membership to either.

The Sierra Club and EAC have knowingly sided with flawed science in the debate over the future of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Both have misrepresented applicable legal principles; worse yet, they have resorted to “the means justifies the ends” tactics. As just one example, both repeatedly make the false legal assertion that the Point Reyes Wilderness Act specifies that in 2012 the oyster farm must be shut down and Drakes Estero declared a wilderness. It says no such thing. In an op-ed published in this newspaper, co-authored by Corey Goodman and Mark Dowie, I explained why. My analysis is still valid today, yet the Sierra Club and EAC have pumped out thousands upon thousands of communications misrepresenting this fact.

The drafters of the Wilderness Act correctly decided that Drakes Estero could not be designated a wilderness. The reasons for this determination are still applicable today. To be sure, Drakes Estero was and is a magnificent treasure, but it wasn’t wilderness then and it isn’t wilderness today. A two-lane black-top road will continue to transport millions of cars, motorcycles, RV’s, trucks and people around the fringes of much of the estero. Wilderness?  You have to be kidding.

The EAC was created to represent the interests of West Marin. With the vast majority of those living here supporting the continued operation of the oyster farm, the group has aborted its purpose. Furthermore, it has adopted tactics meant to vilify and punish one of our most respected families, whose members have in so many ways demonstrated for generations their good stewardship of the water and land. This is a family that cares deeply about West Marin.

The cost of this campaign to shutter the oyster farm, which in so many ways blends in perfectly with its surroundings, could be enormous. We may lose a valuable source of sustainable agriculture on which our community prides itself. We may lose a large part of our heritage. So long as EAC continues with its present leadership, it will not represent our interests. There are other environmental organizations in our community that could better serve our interests. I hope one of them will step forward.

 

 

06-01-13 KGO’s Pat Thurston, and KSFO’s Barbara Simpson see eye to eye in interview with Kevin Lunny & Dr. Goodman

It is rare to have two strong personalities who are usually in strong opposition on major issues, not only see eye to eye but also, to welcome the opportunity to sit down together to share their thoughts and an on-air interview in progress.

KGO Radio host, Pat Thurston was interviewing Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company and Dr. Corey Goodman, the National Academy of Sciences Elected Fellow who uncovered the scientific misconduct by the National Park Service.

During the program, while on a commercial break, KSFO’s Barbara Simpson dropped into the studio to personally thank Thurston for doing the program, she being a staunch supporter of DBOC. Thurston invited Simpson to sit in and join in which she did.

To hear the entire program, click on the link below:

08-03-13 Marin Voice, Science shows oyster farm doesn’t harm estero’s ecology

JOE MUELLER’S July 31 Marin Voice column (“Doing what’s right for the ecology”) is surprisingly devoid of facts. Almost everything in his column is contradicted by the scientific literature on Drakes Estero.

Mueller says oysters rob nutrients from marine wildlife. But a series of studies from UC Davis found just the opposite — marine invertebrates and fish are thriving in Drakes Estero. The National Marine Fisheries Service (responsible for protecting harbor seals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act) reported the seals are healthy and not being disturbed.

The National Academy of Sciences found no evidence for any major environmental impact of the oyster farm on Drakes Estero.

 

Marin News

Marin Voice: Science shows oyster farm doesn’t harm the estero’s ecology

By Corey Goodman
Guest op-ed column

Posted:   08/03/2013 06:05:00 PM PDT
JOE MUELLER’S July 31 Marin Voice column (“Doing what’s right for the ecology”) is surprisingly devoid of facts. Almost everything in his column is contradicted by the scientific literature on Drakes Estero.

Mueller says oysters rob nutrients from marine wildlife. But a series of studies from UC Davis found just the opposite — marine invertebrates and fish are thriving in Drakes Estero. The National Marine Fisheries Service (responsible for protecting harbor seals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act) reported the seals are healthy and not being disturbed.

The National Academy of Sciences found no evidence for any major environmental impact of the oyster farm on Drakes Estero.

Let’s consider a few of Mueller’s assertions about the science vs. the facts.

• “Thousands of roaring motorboat trips.”

There are not thousands of trips (that’s off by an order of magnitude), they don’t disturb wildlife and there is no “din.” The Park Service presented false soundscape data on the oyster boats using imported measurements from a jet ski. The noise issue is manufactured.

• “Artificial modification through invasive species.”

The invasive tunicate is endemic in the temperate waters around the world. It was not introduced by the oyster farm. It doesn’t modify anything; it’s just a nuisance. And there is no evidence the tunicate has colonized eelgrass in Drakes Estero.

• “Thousands of plastic tubes that have littered the embayment.”

The great majority of the plastic debris comes from a cultivation method used by the predecessor, something the current owner has been diligently cleaning up.

• “Marine mammal disturbances.”

The oyster boats stay over 700 yards away from the harbor seals. The Park Service took over 300,000 photographs from secret cameras over a three-year period, and found no evidence the oyster farm was disturbing seals.

More recently, the Park Service contracted an independent harbor seal behavior expert to analyze the photographs, and he found “no evidence for disturbance” of seals by the oyster farm.

Mueller is also wrong on the history. He writes that wilderness advocates “are asking to save one (yes, just one) estuary on the entire western coast of the United States.” But Limantour Estero has been marine wilderness since 1999 (along with part of Drake Estero and Abbott’s Lagoon).

Mueller says designating all of Drakes Estero as wilderness would preserve it from human influences, but most seal disturbances are caused by park visitors and occur in the currently designated wilderness area.

Mueller says Congress signed “an agreement” to designate Drakes Estero as wilderness. What agreement?

The farm’s lease has a renewal clause. The authors of the Point Reyes Wilderness Act (then-Rep. John Burton and then-Sen. John Tunney) said they intended the farm to remain.

The Sierra Club and the Citizens’ Advisory Commission for Point Reyes National Seashore advocated for the farm to continue as a nonconforming use in perpetuity.

Mr. Mueller says that some Marin residents “don’t fully understand the science behind the controversy;” given how many of his assertions are contradicted by the facts, one can’t help but wonder if he is one of them.

Corey Goodman of Marshall was a professor of biology at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University for over 25 years, and is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences

08-01-13 West Marin Citizen Letter to the Editor by Sarah Rolph

An Egregious Record of Outrageous Accusations

In a front-page story in the West Marin Citizen two weeks ago (“Water watchdog to sue oyster company,” July 18, 2013) Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC), is quoted as saying Drakes Bay Oyster  Company “…has an egregious record of non-compliance with state and federal environmental and coastal protection laws…”

Trainer claimed: “The Drakes Bay Oyster Company has failed to get the required permits and authorization from the Army Corps of Engineers, the California Coastal Commission, the National Park Service, and now from the Environmental Protection Agency.”

These statements are false and misleading.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) has a valid permit from the National Park Service. The stay that was granted by the 9th Circuit means that the Special Use Permit and the Reservation of Use agreements are still in force; for legal purposes, the stay, in effect, stopped time. In addition, DBOC has explicit, written authorization from NPS to continue doing business under the 9th Circuit decision; there should be no confusion whatsoever about compliance with NPS.

The permit required from the California Coastal Commission was held up by the Commission itself pending the finalization of the NPS EIS. Although NPS did publish what it calls an FEIS (final environmental impact statement), that document has never been finalized (there is no record of decision; the document was never filed with authorities as required by law). The Commission has now changed its story, but the fact remains that all necessary paperwork for the Coastal Commission permit was filed long ago.

The Army Corps of Engineers recently finalized a nationwide permitting process that calls for blanket permits of all shellfish operations in a given area. This nationwide process was applied first on the East coast, and then in Washington State. The Corps has not yet begun implementation of this permit process in California.  When it does, DBOC will be among the first to be covered, and the Lunnys are already in discussion with the Army Corps about this permit process.

No permit is required from the EPA.

In 2007, the EAC falsely accused DBOC of unpermitted discharge of pollutants in a letter to the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The board inspected DBOC, found no discharge of pollutants, and further found that the DBOC did not require any permit. There is no issue with water quality.  (California River Watch, the so-called “watchdog” that is suing the Lunnys for a non-issue with water, is well known for this type of shakedown suit, and has no credibility among knowledgeable environmentalists.)

The oyster farm is also monitored by the California Department of Public Health,  and is in compliance with the CDPH Drakes Estero Management Plan, Shellfish Shipping and Handling Permit and the CDPH septic system monitoring agreement.

DBOC also has a Small Community Water System permit —the same level of regulation as a public water system. DBOC provides weekly water samples for this permit, and is in full compliance.

The oyster farm is also monitored by the FDA and the CDPH, in accordance with the Interstate Shipping Shellfish Conference, and is in full compliance.

In short, there is no record of non-compliance here, “egregious” or otherwise.  Ms. Trainer’s statements are libelous. She owes the Lunnys, and the community, an apology. The West Marin Citizen should cease quoting Ms. Trainer on the topic of DBOC unless she can provide evidence for her outrageous accusations.

–Sarah Rolph

08-01-2013 3rd & B St Pt Reyes, Save Our DBOF sign & Office of EAC

EAC office's sign in lower right, Sign supporting Drakes Bay Oyster Co. put up by Building's Owner in upper left

Take a drive to 3rd and B Street in Point Reyes.

You will find a “Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm” sign posted just above the ground floor window of West Marin Fitness, facing 3rd St.

(Not that this is an unusual sight in Marin or Sonoma counties these days.

One cannot forget that all polls show 85-95% of West Marinites as well as ALL Marinites favor Saving Drakes Bay Oyster Farm,

hardly the “divisive” issue the opponents would have you believe)

Look closely at the sign on the lower right side of the building

(just above the roof of the car in the photo )

to see the sign for the office of EAC.

08-01-13 Barrett, EAC Exec. Dir. ’86-’92: EAC HAS LOST OUR RESPECT

Point Reyes Light August 1, 2013, Letters To the Editor:

William Barrett, current resident of Inverness and former EAC board member and EAC executive director, 1986-92, in his letter to the editor stated:

“The arguments against the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company coming from EAC’s executive director, Amy Trainer, have been loud and ferocious. …  Jerry Friedman [EAC founder], who drafted the wilderness bill for Senator Phillip Burton, had also expressed his opinion that mariculture had been included under the broader term of agriculture as a protected entity in the park.

Scientific studies, despite the recognized flaws, continue to be touted by EAC as the truth. Inflammatory claims that the oyster farm is part of a larger Republican effort to gut the environment have been played out in the press. Suggestions that the Lunnys are part of a vast network of Koch-funded corporate evil-doers have been circulated. Really? Kevin and Nancy Lunny? Corporate evil-doers? Sheesh. Character assassination is never a good idea in a small town.

The EAC may not have lost its “vision” … but it has lost my respect, …. If Jerry were alive today, I believe he would be …feeling … disappointment and disgust with the current actions and words of the EAC. If I were a member, I would resign.”

 

 

EAC has lost our respect

 

Dear Editor,

Bridger Mitchell did an admirable job in defending the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin in last week’s issue. As board chairman, he put the best foot forward in claiming that the EAC is still true to its roots. His facts were correct, but they don’t tell the whole story.

The EAC has had a long history of working to protect the lands and waters of West Marin. There is no doubt about that. There have been  victories and losses along the way. The early efforts of the group, namely the banning of motorized traffic on the road to Mount Vision and the further levee construction along Papermill Creek, were losses. And, as Bridger quotes EAC founder Jerry Friedman as saying, EAC “took a lot of flak” in those early years.

The flak was generated, in part, by Jerry’s and EAC’s zeal and focus on saving the environment without consideration for the very residents who just happened to live in the environment. One of Jerry’s favorite cautionary stories about EAC’s early years was his shock and shame when approached by Waldo Giacomini, the focus of the levee protests, who asked him simply, “Why didn’t you ever come and talk to me personally? I would have been happy to work with you.” It was a powerful lesson that Jerry and subsequent EAC directors took to heart: Talk to the parties involved, learn all sides of an argument and look for a solution. Sadly, that lesson was missing from Bridger’s statement.

The arguments against the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company coming from EAC’s executive director, Amy Trainer, have been loud and ferocious. Contrary opinions on the actual meaning of the legislation creating the wilderness have been offered and rebutted as unimportant. Two esteemed legislators who were in office during the Wilderness Act process, former Congressman John Burton and former state assemblyman William Bagley, have both asserted that mariculture was indeed included in the original park legislation, in intent if not in word. Jerry Friedman, who drafted the wilderness bill for Senator Phillip Burton, had also expressed his opinion that mariculture had been included under the broader term of agriculture as a protected entity in the park.

Scientific studies, despite the recognized flaws, continue to be touted by EAC as the truth. Inflammatory claims that the oyster farm is part of a larger Republican effort to gut the environment have been played out in the press. Suggestions that the Lunnys are part of a vast network of Koch-funded corporate evil-doers have been circulated. Really? Kevin and Nancy Lunny? Corporate evil-doers? Sheesh. Character assassination is never a good idea in a small town.

The EAC may not have lost its “vision” as far as Bridger opines, but it has lost my respect, and I believe, the respect of the communities it serves. If Jerry were alive today, I believe he would be joining me in a general feeling of disappointment and disgust with the current actions and words of the EAC. If I were a member, I would resign.

William Barrett

former EAC board member and EAC executive director, 1986-92

Inverness

07-29-13 DBOC files Motion Correcting False Statements by CCC

 

Drakes Bay Oyster Files Motion Correcting

False Statements by Coastal Commission

California Coastal Commission Misrepresented Facts to Marin County Court

 

Inverness, Calif. (July 29, 2013) – Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) filed a motion in the Marin County Court today requesting that misrepresentations by the California Coastal Commission be reconsidered before the Court makes its final ruling. The motion clarifies facts about DBOC’s operations.

 

“These misrepresentations by the Coastal Commission are the same false charges that have been leveled for years by the Park Service,” said Kevin Lunny, DBOC. “Those allegations have been repeatedly proven false by the nation’s top scientists, and many are refuted by the Commission’s own reports. We respectfully request that the court consider all of the evidence before making its final decision.”

 

In February 2013, the Commission filed a Cease and Desist Order, leveling serious charges of environmental harm against the oyster farm. Yet the Commission has presented no data or evidence to back up these charges. The motion corrects four false assertions made in court by Coastal Commission counsel:

 

First, the Commission asserted that DBOC has exceeded the shellfish-production limits of a consent

order issued in 2007. In fact, DBOC has at all times complied with those limits.

 

Second, the Commission asserted that DBOC’s boats get too close to harbor seals. In fact, all the

evidence—including an analysis by the National Park Service of 300,000 secret photographs of

oyster-boat operations—establishes that DBOC boats do not get too close to the seals.

 

Third, the Commission asserted that DBOC is “throwing its garbage” into the estero. In fact, the

plastic materials that wash up on shore come from the previous owner and the open ocean. DBOC

has a program in place for collecting and disposing of this legacy debris as part of its stewardship

program.

 

Fourth, the Commission asserted that DBOC is harming the ecology of Drakes Estero. In fact, the

evidence establishes that the ecology is robust and that there is no harm attributable to the oyster

farm.

 

DBOC has been falsely accused. The motion seeks to correct what has been, in the words of the

Commission’s Vice-Chair, Steve Kinsey, “a remarkable assassination of the character of a family”

that has been “the stewards” of the environment at Drakes Estero.

 

 

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

 

Oyster farming in Drakes Estero, located at Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the

region’s history for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family,

purchased Drakes Bay Oyster Company in 2004 to revive a historical part of the local community

and ensure the continued environmental health of Drakes Estero. Drakes Bay currently employs

nearly 30 community members, and farms sustainably in Drakes Estero, producing approximately

one-third of all oysters in California. The Lunny family works hard to participate in keeping the

agricultural economy of West Marin alive. Drakes Bay actively participates in the creation of a more

sustainable food model that restores, conserves, and maintains the productivity of the local

landscape and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit

http://www.drakesbayoyster.com. You can also visit us on Facebook at

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Drakes-Bay-Oyster-Farm/111934439492 or on Twitter at

@DrakesBayOyster.

–30–

07-29-13 Faber, ALSA & DBOC Motion to Correct CCC False Statements in Marin Court

On July 2, 2013, the California Coastal Commission (CCC), represented by the California State Attorney General’s Office, made a series of false statements to the Marin County Court in the Faber, ALSA and DBOC v. California Coastal Commission case.

The Coastal Commission accused DBOC of

(a) harming the ecosystem;

(b) exceeding production limits;

(c) “cruising” too close to harbor seals; and

(d) “throwing” garbage into the Estero. 

The CCC misled the Court.

Attorneys for Faber, ALSA and DBOC asked that these misrepresentations be corrected.  The request was rejected (and new misrepresentations emerged)

As a result, a Motion for Reconsideration was filed yesterday in Marin County Court – Department L. 

Here is the actual Motion.  It’s relatively short and very easy to read.  Every claim and charge was rebutted – by one expert or another.   

07-29-13 Faber ALSA and DBOC Motion to Court for Reconsideration CCC misrepresentations pdf

 

One final observation – NPS, the NPS chorus of supporters and the CCC are quick to point out that “it’s not about science.”  Yet, at every opportunity – in Federal AND State Court, these same parties insist that it is about science, environment and environmental harm. 

 

The CCC, like NPS is “accusation-heavy” but “evidence-lite.”

 

According to Kevin, as quoted in the press release:

“These misrepresentations by the Coastal Commission are the same false charges that have been leveled for years by the Park Service,” said Kevin Lunny, DBOC. “Those allegations have been repeatedly proven false by the nation’s top scientists, and many are refuted by the Commission’s own reports.”

 

07-26-13 Harper’s Editor & Author respond to flack from an anti-DBOC comment

 

26 July 26 2013, Harper’s Magazine posted an article written by Michael Ames titled, THE WEST COAST OYSTER WAR, (see below).

Ames, in the second to last paragraph of his story highlights the “…casual regard for the facts…”

The Point Reyes Seashore Lover, in a single comment to the Harper’s article, provoked the below Ames response and in so doing affirmed the key “casual regard for the facts” point made in his story.

Ames and his editor posted a response:

“I don’t usually weigh in on my own stories, but this particular commenter has made some accusations that need to be addressed.

1. Regarding PR: My editor and I worked on this article with total independence. It was not “whipped up” by a PR crisis firm. I did my research independently, sought out and interviewed the sources quoted independently, and was never contacted by anyone working in professional communications on behalf of the oyster farm. To suggest that either myself or Harper’s would run PR as independent journalism is false and misunderstands the point of what we do. In the context of this issue especially, where national news outlets have been misled by actual PR professionals to publish false talking points as facts, it’s also absurd.

2. Diane Feinstein is the farm’s main advocate in Washington. If she has become a tool of some vast right-wing conspiracy, it’s news to me.

3. Drakes Estero was not designated as wilderness by President John F. Kennedy. It was listed as “potential wilderness” by the (Ph)Bill Burton Wilderness Act of 1976.”

Here is the Post from Point Reyes Seashore Lover

“Apparently the author of this article couldn’t see thru the “ideological fog” long enough to actually discover the facts. It’s all very simple. A deal is a deal. The oyster company was told it would have to shut down. It agreed to that deal. And now, with the help of right-wing backers like Vitter and House Republicans, egged on by Fox News and with the legal assistance of Cause of Action (a property rights legal firm staffed by ex-Koch Brothers employees), it has hired a PR crisis communications director that whips up articles like these. This is a national seashore. And a wilderness area. Yet this corporation, that signed a deal to leave, wants to continue operating. The California Coastal Commission is among those who don’t find this notion romantic, and a court just ruled that it must comply with the Commission’s requirements to curb its plastics pollution, introduction of non-native Manilla clams, and remove its marine “vomit.” This is not some innocent farmer getting kicked off his land by big government; it’s someone who made a bad bet that he could continue operating in an area designated as wilderness by President John F. Kennedy and continue to pollute. Fortunately, the courts so far have sided with the Obama Administration, which has had the backbone to stand up to legislators who should know better. And as for the science, Mr. Goodman sound a lot like those who question climate change by citing false science that multiple agencies have routinely dismissed.”

 

If any of you are inspired to comment, the article can be found at the following link:  http://harpers.org/blog/2013/07/the-west-coast-oyster-war/

 

 

 

Here is the complete article beginning with an excerpt:

The story of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company is at this point obscured by ideological fog. Even basic facts are being misrepresented. The environmental lobby insists, for example, that Drakes Estero will now become “the first marine wilderness area on the West Coast” outside of Alaska, a claim that has been repeated as fact by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, ABC and NBC affiliates in San Francisco, the local West Marin Environmental Action Committee, most national environmental organizations, and the Park Service itself. And yet according to the government’s own records, this isn’t true. As Salazar noted in his ruling, the Limantour Estero, which is adjacent to Drakes, was converted in 1999 “from potential to designated wilderness, becoming the first (and still only) marine wilderness on the Pacific coast of the United States outside of Alaska.”

 

Controversy — July 26, 2013, 4:22 pm

The West Coast Oyster War

The campaign to shut down a family oyster farm exposes an unflattering side of the American conservation movement

By Michael Ames

 

The Drakes Bay Oyster Company sits on a picturesque lagoon in the Point Reyes National Seashore, a dramatic, windswept peninsula jutting into the Pacific about forty miles north of San Francisco. The setting is pristine, and roughly 2.5 million people visit the park each year to walk its vast empty beaches, birdwatch in its foggy woods, and stroll through its meadows of high grasses. On a clear spring day, you can hike up a rocky bluff and watch pairs of calving grey whales migrate north through the emerald waters below, one blowhole exhalation at a time.

Point Reyes is a hallowed piece of the National Park System, and its history is a triumph of environmental policy over the greed of man. At one point late in the development-happy 1950s, a group of businessmen began to eye the peninsula, with visions of a coastal development featuring shopping malls and parking lots like those that have since bisected much of southern Marin County. Aghast, the area’s ranching and farming families, many of whom had roots there dating to the mid-1800s, teamed up with the Sierra Club and the government to work out a deal. Landowners received long-term leases, renewable for generations, and the National Park Service (NPS) took over a prize piece of real estate. The chapter stands as local folklore, with an evident lesson to the two dozen or so families still working leases in Marin County: a commitment to the environment is all that stands between Pacific splendor and another Jersey Shore.

But this solution brought its own set of problems. Walled off from market forces, the park became a stage on which endless struggles of environmental law and policy play out: public land versus private business, wilderness versus agriculture, and, in the discouraging case of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, politics versus science. Seven months and four lawsuits ago, then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar ordered the family-owned oyster farm to clear out of the lagoon — part of an ecologically sensitive bay known as Drakes Estero[1] — where it has been producing oysters since the mid-1930s.

The environmental establishment[2] cheered the decision, but some influential progressives in the Bay Area were appalled, and when the farm refused to leave, the fight escalated and drew in a peculiar assortment of bedfellows. Alice Waters, California’s culinary eminence and a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement, signed on to a federal-court brief filed on the farm’s behalf, putting her on the same side as Louisiana senator David Vitter (R.), who included a clause on a sweeping G.O.P. energy bill — one permitting the Keystone XL Pipeline to be constructed and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be drilled for oil — to grant the oyster company another twenty years on its lease. California senator Diane Feinstein (D.), the farm’s leading advocate in Washington, co-sponsored a separate Vitter budget-resolution amendment that sought the same lease extension. Shortly before Salazar issued his eviction notice last November, Michael Pollan, the bestselling author and national conscience on sustainable food, wrote in an open letter to Salazar and Feinstein that “it would be a shame — in fact an outrage — if the company were closed down as a result of the Park Service’s ideological rigidity and misuse of science.”

For Pollan, Waters, and other progressives, the farm epitomizes an agricultural future in which small, conservation-minded producers build sustainable local food economies.[3] Environmentalism is central to this philosophy, but in an interview with the New York Times,  Bay Area restaurateur Patricia Unterman characterized the environmentalists’ mindset as “doctrinaire and unnuanced.” The farm she described as “a rare and beautiful use of land and water” is viewed by the Sierra Club as an unholy industrialization of a beloved national park.

Though the case will ultimately be decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later this summer, the environmental lobby has been waging a public-relations blitz to stir passions among its donor base. In interviews, blog posts, op-eds, and fundraising pleas, the movement has played loose with the facts, its claims becoming enmeshed with the national partisan air war: Thanks to Senator Vitter’s support, the oyster company is part of a “big oil agenda.” Since the company (temporarily) accepted pro bono legal help from a conservative outfit in Washington, D.C., it has “close ties to the ultra-conservative Koch brothers.” Worse still, one editor at the East Bay Express darkly informed his readers, “The farm’s owners, Kevin and Nancy Lunny, also have repeatedly appeared on Fox News to promote their campaign.”

Kevin Lunny, the oysterman in question, grew up on Point Reyes, the grandson of a rancher. He stuck with the family business, and when the food movement boomed he was well-suited and well-situated for the times. His livestock were the first certified-organic beef cattle in Marin County, and today you can buy Lunny Ranch grass-fed, organic beef in the area’s Whole Foods markets. He sits on the board of the local organic-producers’ association, earned an award from the Society of Rangeland Management for best practices in California, and, in 2004, with an eye on expanding the family business for his children and grandchildren, bought the oyster farm from an aging neighbor. Oystering was a gamble; there was no guarantee that the government would renew the farm’s forty-year lease, and he knew that Drakes Estero was listed by the Department of Interior as “potential wilderness,” an elastic word of ill portent.

But with assistance from the National Park Service, Lunny invested money and time in cleanup and modernization; in 2007, he was even featured in an NPS booklet called Stewardship Begins with People. “From our house, we look out over the oyster beds and the estuary every day,” he is quoted as saying. “It’s a beautiful view and it’s something that we love and cherish. We’re deeply committed to that ecosystem and its protection.”

Just months after publishing Stewardship Begins with People, however, NPS released a revised edition with Lunny’s image photoshopped out and his quotations redacted. Even as the park service had publicly celebrated Lunny, it was building a case against him. In 2006, it had intensified its scrutiny of the farm, ordering wave after wave of studies and reports on the oyster farm’s environmental impact on the estuary. Two hidden surveillance cameras snapped nearly 300,000 photos over three years, aiming to prove that boats used for gathering oysters from different areas of the bay were disturbing a nearby colony of harbor seals, who had become the focus of the agency’s case. But the seals typically bask on sandbars 700 yards from the nearest farm equipment, and the report raised immediate flags.

On April 28, 2007, a Marin County Supervisor put in a call to Dr. Corey Goodman, a former Stanford biology professor and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), to review the case. Goodman was shocked by what he found. Data so simple, he told me, “any high schooler or junior high schooler could understand it,” was riddled with errors. When Feinstein asked for a formal NAS review, their verdict was that the park service had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented” the science. Gavin Frost, an NPS solicitor who also reviewed the case, found that his agency was “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.”

With the park service’s science being roundly debunked, Salazar ordered it in October 2009 to conduct an updated Environmental Impact Statement, which it did, and which was later found also to include stunning misrepresentations. One of these involved noise measurements that allegedly proved Lunny’s oyster boats were disturbing the seals, but that turned out to be from a seventeen-year-old study of jet-ski noise in New Jersey. “I have followed this saga for several years now,” Pollan wrote to Salazar and Feinstein last fall, “with a mounting sense of wonder and disappointment in the behavior of the Park Service.” Feinstein has been just as direct. Last spring, she wrote that the Park Service “has repeatedly misrepresented the scientific record since 2006 to portray the farm as environmentally harmful.”

But the time had come to turn “potential wilderness” into the real thing. When Salazar made his final ruling, he sidestepped the thicket of bunk science, acknowledging that it “had generated much controversy,” and claimed that his “decision is based on matters of law and policy” — put simply, the government was under no obligation to renew the farm’s lease. Salazar gave Lunny ninety days to clear out his equipment and assets, including $2 million worth of oysters.

The story of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company is at this point obscured by ideological fog. Even basic facts are being misrepresented. The environmental lobby insists, for example, that Drakes Estero will now become “the first marine wilderness area on the West Coast” outside of Alaska, a claim that has been repeated as fact by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, ABC and NBC affiliates in San Francisco, the local West Marin Environmental Action Committee, most national environmental organizations, and the Park Service itself. And yet according to the government’s own records, this isn’t true. As Salazar noted in his ruling, the Limantour Estero, which is adjacent to Drakes, was converted in 1999 “from potential to designated wilderness, becoming the first (and still only) marine wilderness on the Pacific coast of the United States outside of Alaska.”

This sort of casual regard for the facts[4] led Lunny to tell Fox Business News that the campaign being waged against him “embarrasses most environmentalists,” and is now describing the action as “wilderness activism.” With a decision from the 9th Circuit expected soon, the environmental lobby has been treating the case like the closing days of an election-season campaign. After contacting several different organizations in California and Washington, D.C., for comment, I learned that many of the country’s oldest and largest environmental groups have agreed that only two people — Neal Desai of the National Parks Conservation Association and Amy Trainer of the West Marin Environmental Action Committee — will speak on the record about Drakes Bay. One person I interviewed for this story, an environmental-law expert deeply familiar with the case, emailed me after an hour-long interview to ask me not to use anything that was said, even anonymously, out of fear of career-ending reprisal.

In Conservation and Local Economy, Wendell Berry writes, “The long-standing division between conservationists and farmers, ranchers, and other private small-business people is distressing because it is to a considerable extent false.” The Drakes Bay oyster war reveals the entrenching of this division thanks to political money and ideology. The oyster farm predates the national park by three decades, but for environmental groups that have invested heavily in the farm’s removal, any negotiation that allows it to remain has become unthinkable, an inexorable step toward strip mining the Grand Canyon. “As much as the Park Service and the Sierra Club would like to pretend otherwise,” Pollan writes, “Point Reyes National Seashore has been an agricultural community for nearly two centuries.” To ignore that entire history and insist on one definition of wilderness would, he said, “consign the place to being a museum to an idea.”

[2] Including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

 

[3] From the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website: “Farming oysters brings little risk of pollution or escapees, and habitat effects from the farms are minimal. Unlike some farmed fish, oysters minimally impact marine resources as they don’t rely on wild-caught fish — in the form of fishmeal or fish oil — for food. And, thanks to the oyster’s filter-feeding action, oyster farms can actually benefit the surrounding coastal waters.”

 

[4] To take another example, Neal Desai of the National Parks Conservation Association has sent out literature implying that the harbor seals in Drakes Estero are members of an endangered species, which they are not. Desai told me he used the term “in the context of [the seals] are at risk of harm,” a dizzyingly broad application.

 

 

 

 

7-26-13 Harper’s: The West Coast Oyster War

The story of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company is at this point obscured by ideological fog. Even basic facts are being misrepresented. The environmental lobby insists, for example, that Drakes Estero will now become “the first marine wilderness area on the West Coast” outside of Alaska, a claim that has been repeated as fact by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, ABC and NBC affiliates in San Francisco, the local West Marin Environmental Action Committee, most national environmental organizations, and the Park Service itself. And yet according to the government’s own records, this isn’t true. As Salazar noted in his ruling, the Limantour Estero, which is adjacent to Drakes, was converted in 1999 “from potential to designated wilderness, becoming the first (and still only) marine wilderness on the Pacific coast of the United States outside of Alaska.”

Controversy — July 26, 2013, 4:22 pm

The West Coast Oyster War

The campaign to shut down a family oyster farm exposes an unflattering side of the American conservation movement

By Michael Ames
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company sits on a picturesque lagoon in the Point Reyes National Seashore, a dramatic, windswept peninsula jutting into the Pacific about forty miles north of San Francisco. The setting is pristine, and roughly 2.5 million people visit the park each year to walk its vast empty beaches, birdwatch in its foggy woods, and stroll through its meadows of high grasses. On a clear spring day, you can hike up a rocky bluff and watch pairs of calving grey whales migrate north through the emerald waters below, one blowhole exhalation at a time.

Point Reyes is a hallowed piece of the National Park System, and its history is a triumph of environmental policy over the greed of man. At one point late in the development-happy 1950s, a group of businessmen began to eye the peninsula, with visions of a coastal development featuring shopping malls and parking lots like those that have since bisected much of southern Marin County. Aghast, the area’s ranching and farming families, many of whom had roots there dating to the mid-1800s, teamed up with the Sierra Club and the government to work out a deal. Landowners received long-term leases, renewable for generations, and the National Park Service (NPS) took over a prize piece of real estate. The chapter stands as local folklore, with an evident lesson to the two dozen or so families still working leases in Marin County: a commitment to the environment is all that stands between Pacific splendor and another Jersey Shore.

But this solution brought its own set of problems. Walled off from market forces, the park became a stage on which endless struggles of environmental law and policy play out: public land versus private business, wilderness versus agriculture, and, in the discouraging case of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, politics versus science. Seven months and four lawsuits ago, then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar ordered the family-owned oyster farm to clear out of the lagoon — part of an ecologically sensitive bay known as Drakes Estero[1] — where it has been producing oysters since the mid-1930s.

The environmental establishment[2] cheered the decision, but some influential progressives in the Bay Area were appalled, and when the farm refused to leave, the fight escalated and drew in a peculiar assortment of bedfellows. Alice Waters, California’s culinary eminence and a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement, signed on to a federal-court brief filed on the farm’s behalf, putting her on the same side as Louisiana senator David Vitter (R.), who included a clause on a sweeping G.O.P. energy bill — one permitting the Keystone XL Pipeline to be constructed and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be drilled for oil — to grant the oyster company another twenty years on its lease. California senator Diane Feinstein (D.), the farm’s leading advocate in Washington, co-sponsored a separate Vitter budget-resolution amendment that sought the same lease extension. Shortly before Salazar issued his eviction notice last November, Michael Pollan, the bestselling author and national conscience on sustainable food, wrote in an open letter to Salazar and Feinstein that “it would be a shame — in fact an outrage — if the company were closed down as a result of the Park Service’s ideological rigidity and misuse of science.”

For Pollan, Waters, and other progressives, the farm epitomizes an agricultural future in which small, conservation-minded producers build sustainable local food economies.[3] Environmentalism is central to this philosophy, but in an interview with the New York Times,  Bay Area restaurateur Patricia Unterman characterized the environmentalists’ mindset as “doctrinaire and unnuanced.” The farm she described as “a rare and beautiful use of land and water” is viewed by the Sierra Club as an unholy industrialization of a beloved national park.

Though the case will ultimately be decided by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals later this summer, the environmental lobby has been waging a public-relations blitz to stir passions among its donor base. In interviews, blog posts, op-eds, and fundraising pleas, the movement has played loose with the facts, its claims becoming enmeshed with the national partisan air war: Thanks to Senator Vitter’s support, the oyster company is part of a “big oil agenda.” Since the company (temporarily) accepted pro bono legal help from a conservative outfit in Washington, D.C., it has “close ties to the ultra-conservative Koch brothers.” Worse still, one editor at the East Bay Express darkly informed his readers, “The farm’s owners, Kevin and Nancy Lunny, also have repeatedly appeared on Fox News to promote their campaign.”

Kevin Lunny, the oysterman in question, grew up on Point Reyes, the grandson of a rancher. He stuck with the family business, and when the food movement boomed he was well-suited and well-situated for the times. His livestock were the first certified-organic beef cattle in Marin County, and today you can buy Lunny Ranch grass-fed, organic beef in the area’s Whole Foods markets. He sits on the board of the local organic-producers’ association, earned an award from the Society of Rangeland Management for best practices in California, and, in 2004, with an eye on expanding the family business for his children and grandchildren, bought the oyster farm from an aging neighbor. Oystering was a gamble; there was no guarantee that the government would renew the farm’s forty-year lease, and he knew that Drakes Estero was listed by the Department of Interior as “potential wilderness,” an elastic word of ill portent.But with assistance from the National Park Service, Lunny invested money and time in cleanup and modernization; in 2007, he was even featured in an NPS booklet called Stewardship Begins with People. “From our house, we look out over the oyster beds and the estuary every day,” he is quoted as saying. “It’s a beautiful view and it’s something that we love and cherish. We’re deeply committed to that ecosystem and its protection.”

Just months after publishing Stewardship Begins with People, however, NPS released a revised edition with Lunny’s image photoshopped out and his quotations redacted. Even as the park service had publicly celebrated Lunny, it was building a case against him. In 2006, it had intensified its scrutiny of the farm, ordering wave after wave of studies and reports on the oyster farm’s environmental impact on the estuary. Two hidden surveillance cameras snapped nearly 300,000 photos over three years, aiming to prove that boats used for gathering oysters from different areas of the bay were disturbing a nearby colony of harbor seals, who had become the focus of the agency’s case. But the seals typically bask on sandbars 700 yards from the nearest farm equipment, and the report raised immediate flags.On April 28, 2007, a Marin County Supervisor put in a call to Dr. Corey Goodman, a former Stanford biology professor and a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), to review the case. Goodman was shocked by what he found. Data so simple, he told me, “any high schooler or junior high schooler could understand it,” was riddled with errors. When Feinstein asked for a formal NAS review, their verdict was that the park service had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented” the science. Gavin Frost, an NPS solicitor who also reviewed the case, found that his agency was “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.”

With the park service’s science being roundly debunked, Salazar ordered it in October 2009 to conduct an updated Environmental Impact Statement, which it did, and which was later found also to include stunning misrepresentations. One of these involved noise measurements that allegedly proved Lunny’s oyster boats were disturbing the seals, but that turned out to be from a seventeen-year-old study of jet-ski noise in New Jersey. “I have followed this saga for several years now,” Pollan wrote to Salazar and Feinstein last fall, “with a mounting sense of wonder and disappointment in the behavior of the Park Service.” Feinstein has been just as direct. Last spring, she wrote that the Park Service “has repeatedly misrepresented the scientific record since 2006 to portray the farm as environmentally harmful.”

But the time had come to turn “potential wilderness” into the real thing. When Salazar made his final ruling, he sidestepped the thicket of bunk science, acknowledging that it “had generated much controversy,” and claimed that his “decision is based on matters of law and policy” — put simply, the government was under no obligation to renew the farm’s lease. Salazar gave Lunny ninety days to clear out his equipment and assets, including $2 million worth of oysters.

The story of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company is at this point obscured by ideological fog. Even basic facts are being misrepresented. The environmental lobby insists, for example, that Drakes Estero will now become “the first marine wilderness area on the West Coast” outside of Alaska, a claim that has been repeated as fact by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, ABC and NBC affiliates in San Francisco, the local West Marin Environmental Action Committee, most national environmental organizations, and the Park Service itself. And yet according to the government’s own records, this isn’t true. As Salazar noted in his ruling, the Limantour Estero, which is adjacent to Drakes, was converted in 1999 “from potential to designated wilderness, becoming the first (and still only) marine wilderness on the Pacific coast of the United States outside of Alaska.”

This sort of casual regard for the facts[4] led Lunny to tell Fox Business News that the campaign being waged against him “embarrasses most environmentalists,” and is now describing the action as “wilderness activism.” With a decision from the 9th Circuit expected soon, the environmental lobby has been treating the case like the closing days of an election-season campaign. After contacting several different organizations in California and Washington, D.C., for comment, I learned that many of the country’s oldest and largest environmental groups have agreed that only two people — Neal Desai of the National Parks Conservation Association and Amy Trainer of the West Marin Environmental Action Committee — will speak on the record about Drakes Bay. One person I interviewed for this story, an environmental-law expert deeply familiar with the case, emailed me after an hour-long interview to ask me not to use anything that was said, even anonymously, out of fear of career-ending reprisal.

In Conservation and Local Economy, Wendell Berry writes, “The long-standing division between conservationists and farmers, ranchers, and other private small-business people is distressing because it is to a considerable extent false.” The Drakes Bay oyster war reveals the entrenching of this division thanks to political money and ideology. The oyster farm predates the national park by three decades, but for environmental groups that have invested heavily in the farm’s removal, any negotiation that allows it to remain has become unthinkable, an inexorable step toward strip mining the Grand Canyon. “As much as the Park Service and the Sierra Club would like to pretend otherwise,” Pollan writes, “Point Reyes National Seashore has been an agricultural community for nearly two centuries.” To ignore that entire history and insist on one definition of wilderness would, he said, “consign the place to being a museum to an idea.”

[1] The bay is named for the British explorer Sir Francis Drake, who is believed to have landed here in 1579.

[2] Including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, and the National Parks Conservation Association.

[3] From the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website: “Farming oysters brings little risk of pollution or escapees, and habitat effects from the farms are minimal. Unlike some farmed fish, oysters minimally impact marine resources as they don’t rely on wild-caught fish — in the form of fishmeal or fish oil — for food. And, thanks to the oyster’s filter-feeding action, oyster farms can actually benefit the surrounding coastal waters.”

[4] To take another example, Neal Desai of the National Parks Conservation Association has sent out literature implying that the harbor seals in Drakes Estero are members of an endangered species, which they are not. Desai told me he used the term “in the context of [the seals] are at risk of harm,” a dizzyingly broad application.

 
 

07-18-13 SF Sentinel: Amy Trainer & EAC Discredited, Court Makes Favorable Judgment for DBOC

Recently,  Amy Trainer, Director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, has been  exposed in a series of false statements against Drakes Bay Oyster Co.  Trainer has issued a series of false news releases and made statements regarding  the scientific evidence about the benefits of oyster farming.  She and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, were also behind the false statements that the DBOC was being funded by the conservative Koch brothers.  It has been proven there was no tie or link between the Koch brothers and DBOC and Trainer and her environmental group have been discredited.

Major Victory for Drakes Bay Oyster Co. as Marin Court Allows Farm to Remain Open Until Federal Lawsuit is Resolved

18 July 2013

Amy Trainer, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin executive director, discredited by false statements against Drakes Bay Oyster Co. Court makes favorable  judgment for DBOC

A Marin County Superior Court Judge put two orders by the California Coastal Commission on the back burner that would have forced the historic Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) to shut down prior to the resolution of a pending federal lawsuit.

“We are pleased that the court stayed the restoration order, recognizing that it was inappropriate for the Commission to act while the federal permit is still  under review by the Court,” said DBOC owner, Kevin Lunny.  “We are  troubled, however, that the Commission continues to misrepresent the oyster farm operations to the public and the Court. We are confident that their misrepresentations will be revealed for what they are—completely unfounded and contradictory with their own reports—when the hearing on the merits occurs,” he said.

In February 2013, the Commission issued a Cease and Desist Order and Restoration Order against Drakes Bay, alleging that the historic farm was not complying with required standards and was harming harbor seals, eelgrass and the environment of Drakes Estero. These allegations were  repeatedly proven to be false by the Nation’s top scientists and the Commission’s own reports.

A special Commission Trip Report, prepared in 2007, directly contradicts the two major claims the Commission has made in court. The Commission argued that the oyster farm harms harbor seals because “there are boats cruising around near harbor seals”, but its report admits that “servicing the oyster bags located several hundred yards away from the haul-out sites probably would not result in disturbance to the seals.”  The Commission also argued that DBOC is “expanding” operations, but its own report admitted that the historical production cap was 700,000 pounds/year, a recommended level of production which DBOC has not violated.

Even the Commission’s own vice-chair, Steve Kinsey, has called the Commission’s treatment of DBOC “morally disturbing.” Kinsey stated that the Commission has “repeated the same disproven assertions that the operation was harming harbor seals and eelgrass” and “chosen to portray the Lunnys as irresponsible operators to aid and abet the Park Service’s myopic interest in terminating the lease.”

“With the support of our employees, thousands of environmentalists, community members and elected leaders around the nation, we will continue to fight and remain confident and hopeful that we will be successful in the next stages of our legal battle,” Lunny stated.

Recently,  Amy Trainer, Director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, has been  exposed in a series of false statements against Drakes Bay Oyster Co.  Trainer has issued a series of false news releases and made statements regarding  the scientific evidence about the benefits of oyster farming.  She and the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, were also behind the false statements that the DBOC was being funded by the conservative Koch brothers.  It has been proven there was no tie or link between the Koch brothers and DBOC and Trainer and her environmental group have been discredited.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the region’s history for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased Drakes Bay Oyster Company in 2004 to revive a historical part of the local community and ensure the continued environmental health of Drakes Estero.  Drakes Bay currently employs nearly 30 community members, and farms sustainably in Drakes Estero, producing approximately one-third of all oysters in California. The Lunny family works hard to participate in keeping the agricultural economic system in West Marin alive. Drakes Bay actively participates in the creation of a more sustainable food model that restores, conserves, and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.

07-17-13 Russian River Times: CCC Gets Its Own Facts Wrong in … Hearing

 “Faber pointed out in the transcript of the recent Marin Superior Court hearing, that statement-after-statement made by the California Attorney-General’s office, representing the Coastal Commission, were patently false, and were contradicted by the CCC’s own record, well-known to them at the time.” 

 

The Russian River Times recently caught up with Phyllis Faber, one of the founding members of the California Coastal Commission board, who, along with the Alliance for Locally Sustainable Agriculture, has now sued her former organization for their actions against Drakes Bay Oyster Company DBOC and the Lunny family, who operate the historic oyster farm in Drake’s Estero at Point Reyes National Seashore.  Faber is a well-respected scientist for her work in marshland ecology, as well as an environmental icon, responsible for the development of Marin Agricultural Land Trust which has preserved in perpetuity over 30,000 acres of farmland Marin and has served as a model for land trust preservation everywhere.

Speaking of her vital work in the creation of the Coastal Commission, the late Peter Douglas, the first executive director of the Commission, praised Faber for her service. “Throughout the heat of political struggle, Phyllis maintained high standards of integrity and scientific honesty. Her compassion for other creatures with whom we share this planet was matched by her sensitivity to the needs of people and individuals with whom she came in contact. Whenever volunteers were needed in the course of the seven year campaign to enact California’s pioneering and bitterly fought over coastal protection program in the 1970’s, Phyllis was there ready, willing and able to do all she could to help the cause….”

“Faber’s stand for scientific and ethical integrity and preserving California’s coastline continues today.  She brought the lawsuit against the CCC with great reluctance, as the Coastal Commission has, in the past, been essential to the preservation of the coastline, but in the Drake’s Estero case, they failed to behave in a fair and equitable manner, becoming a law unto themselves, increasingly arbitrary, litigious and capricious. As she states, “If they continue to lose the trust of all Californians in their ability to fairly protect the public interest, we all lose.”

 

Faber continues to fight for science and integrity and coastal preservation.

 

russianrivertimes

 

California Coastal Commission Gets Its Own Facts Wrong in Oyster Company Court Hearing.

Posted on July 17, 2013 by russianrivertimes

The Russian River Times recently caught up with Phyllis Faber, one of the founding members of the California Coastal Commission board, who, along with the Alliance for Locally Sustainable Agriculture, has now sued her former organization for their actions against Drakes Bay Oyster Company DBOC and the Lunny family, who operate the historic oyster farm in Drake’s Estero at Point Reyes National Seashore.  Faber is a well-respected scientist for her work in marshland ecology, as well as an environmental icon, responsible for the development of Marin Agricultural Land Trust which has preserved in perpetuity over 30,000 acres of farmland Marin and has served as a model for land trust preservation everywhere.

Speaking of her vital work in the creation of the Coastal Commission, the late Peter Douglas, the first executive director of the Commission, praised Faber for her service. “Throughout the heat of political struggle, Phyllis maintained high standards of integrity and scientific honesty. Her compassion for other creatures with whom we share this planet was matched by her sensitivity to the needs of people and individuals with whom she came in contact. Whenever volunteers were needed in the course of the seven year campaign to enact California’s pioneering and bitterly fought over coastal protection program in the 1970’s, Phyllis was there ready, willing and able to do all she could to help the cause….”

Faber continues to fight for science and integrity and coastal preservation. The Marin Superior Court posted their decision on a ‘motion to stay’ the pending Coastal Commission actions against DBOC on July 16, essentially stating that further actions in the case will be held in abeyance until after the federal court decision on motions in the case brought by Drakes Bay Oyster Company against the National Park Service.  NPS has been trying to eliminate the oyster farm for almost a decade, using false science, fabricated claims and falsified data, which the Times has covered extensively since the beginning of the controversy in 2007.

Faber pointed out in the transcript of the recent Marin Superior Court hearing, that statement-after-statement made by the California Attorney-General’s office, representing the Coastal Commission, were patently false, and were contradicted by the CCC’s own record, well-known to them at the time.  The most egregious of these is already the subject of a complaint of false information made by Faber’s attorneys relating to claims that DBOC had exceeded the harvest levels specified in the 2007 Consent Decree.

According to the Court Transcript of the July 2 hearing, the Coastal Commission falsely claimed that DBOC has increased oyster presence in the Estero from 71,000 oysters to 19 million, telling the Court that this massive so-called “expansion” was a threat to the Estero.  This claim does not stand up to even the most cursory examination.  Deputy Attorney General, Joel Jacobs, presented wildly incorrect harvest figures hopelessly scrambles the units of measurement, and seems totally unaware of facts relating to the 2007 Consent Decree.  Either he has been deceived by his client, does not care that he is misrepresenting facts to the court or has simply failed to conduct even the most basic review of the mariculture and environmental issues and information relevant to the case, including the CCC’s own documents, before making inflammatory allegations before Judge Duryee.

DBOC is mandated to report oyster harvest levels to the agency that regulates the resource, California Fish and Wildlife (formerly called CA Department of Fish and Game) in gallons and pounds.  A simple phone call to CDFW would have given him the correct information.  As for the distorted claim that DBOC grew 19 million oysters, Jacobs revealed that he and the CCC either knew nothing about the resource and how oysters were grown or deliberately misled the Court.   The 19 million refers to microscopic spat, which are induced to grow on oyster shells before being placed in the estero and, industry wide, have a very low survival rate.  To illustrate the physical difference one only needs to understand that 19 million microscopic spat mentioned could easily fit in several large 7-11 ‘Big Gulp’ cups.

More telling, the Coastal Commission had information in their own Record that directly contradicted the very assertions presented to Judge Duryee at the hearing.  At the Commission’s request, harvest data was submitted to the Commission by DBOC back in 2007 and all subsequent reports have been made available to CCC.  The information, data and supporting materials previously submitted to the Commission revealed that DBOC has complied with all harvest levels and reporting. When Jacobs and CCC made claims of massive increase in oyster activity, they should have also told the Court that DBOC operates under boat route maps approved by CCC under the 2007 consent decree, and logs all boat trips with GPS and show no significant change in activity.  Thus, the CCC chain of hypothesis of harm disintegrates completely not only at the first link, but every segment of the chain.

The Times spoke with Zack Walton, one of the attorneys representing Phyllis Faber and ALSA in the case against the Coastal Commission.  In a July 6 letter, Walton asked the Coastal Commission to correct their misstatements, as he had provided all of the shellfish harvest figures as reported to the CDFW and additional requested by the Coastal Commission in the negotiations of the consent decree.  The record shows that CCC inexplicably ignored their own findings and the 2007 Consent Decree in their latest complaint of Coastal Act violations.

The amount of shellfish harvest is regulated by CDFW under the DBOC lease, which states that the maximum oyster harvest is 850,000 lbs. and the records provided to the Coastal Commission show that DBOC harvest levels since 2007 are consistent with the 2007 Decree, with the most recent annual 2012 harvest level of 531,182 pounds.  As Walton pointed out, “They totally contradict the position they took when we negotiated the 2007 Consent Decree”.  More importantly, the California Coastal Commission is barred from regulating mariculture by CDFG, which is the lead State agency not only for oyster harvest but marine mammal protection as specified in Section 30411(a) of the Coastal Act, which clearly states that CCC may not duplicate or exceed CDFW actions.

Faber points out that the Coastal Commission is on the wrong side of science in this issue, and had made conclusionary statements that fly in the face of their previous action, and directly contradict findings by the scientific panels of the Marine Mammal Commission and the National Academy of Sciences.  The reports of the individual scientists on the MMC board who are leading experts in their field, found no incompatibility with the oyster operations and the health of the estero and its seal population.

The CCC conclusionary claims of immediate ongoing environmental harm are merely unsubstantiated opinions, many in direct conflict with their own documents and trip reports.  A CCC Trip Report from 2007 concluded that “servicing the oyster bags located several hundred yards away from the haul-out sites probably would not result in disturbance to the seals”.  This CCC finding was ignored by the CCC today.  The same Trip Report also raised claims of harm to eelgrass, yet fails to note, as did the National Academy Report, that eel grass coverage benefits from the filtering effects of the oyster cultivation and doubled in coverage in the estero since 1991.

Faber’s stand for scientific and ethical integrity and preserving California’s coastline continues today.  She brought the lawsuit against the CCC with great reluctance, as the Coastal Commission has, in the past, been essential to the preservation of the coastline, but in the Drake’s Estero case, they failed to behave in a fair and equitable manner, becoming a law unto themselves, increasingly arbitrary, litigious and capricious. As she states,  “If they continue to lose the trust of all Californians in their ability to fairly protect the public interest, we all lose.”

07-16-13 Marin Court Grants a “Motion to stay” pending actions by CCC against DBOC

The Marin Superior Court posted their decision on a ‘motion to stay’ the pending Coastal Commission actions against DBOC on July 16, essentially stating that further actions in the case will be held in abeyance until after the federal court decision on motions in the case brought by Drakes Bay Oyster Company against the National Park Service.  NPS has been trying to eliminate the oyster farm for almost a decade, using false science, fabricated claims and falsified data, which the Times has covered extensively since the beginning of the controversy in 2007.

[Phyllis] Faber* pointed out in the transcript of the recent Marin Superior Court hearing, that statement-after-statement s made by the California Attorney-General’s office, representing the Coastal Commission, were patently false, and were contradicted by the CCC’s own record, well-known to them at the time.  The most egregious of these is already the subject of a complaint of false information made by Faber’s attorneys relating to claims that DBOC had exceeded the harvest levels specified in the 2007 Consent Decree.

According to the Court Transcript of the July 2 hearing, the Coastal Commission falsely claimed that DBOC has increased oyster presence in the Estero from 71,000 oysters to 19 million, telling the Court that this massive so-called “expansion” was a threat to the Estero.  This claim does not stand up to even the most cursory examination.  Deputy Attorney General, Joel Jacobs, presented wildly incorrect harvest figures hopelessly scrambles the units of measurement, and seems totally unaware of facts relating to the 2007 Consent Decree.  Either he has been deceived by his client, does not care that he is misrepresenting facts to the court or has simply failed to conduct even the most basic review of the mariculture and environmental issues and information relevant to the case, including the CCC’s own documents, before making inflammatory allegations before Judge Duryee.

DBOC is mandated to report oyster harvest levels to the agency that regulates the resource, California Fish and Wildlife (formerly called CA Department of Fish and Game) in gallons and pounds.  A simple phone call to CDFW would have given him the correct information.  As for the distorted claim that DBOC grew 19 million oysters, Jacobs revealed that he and the CCC either knew nothing about the resource and how oysters were grown or deliberately misled the Court.   The 19 million refers to microscopic spat, which are induced to grow on oyster shells before being placed in the estero and, industry wide, have a very low survival rate.  To illustrate the physical difference one only needs to understand that 19 million microscopic spat mentioned could easily fit in several large 7-11 ‘Big Gulp’ cups.

More telling, the Coastal Commission had information in their own Record that directly contradicted the very assertions presented to Judge Duryee at the hearing.  At the Commission’s request, harvest data was submitted to the Commission by DBOC back in 2007 and all subsequently reports have been made available to CCC.  The information, data and supporting materials previously submitted to the Commission revealed that DBOC has complied with all harvest levels and reporting. When Jacobs and CCC made claims of massive increase in oyster activity, they should have also told the Court that DBOC operates under boat route maps approved by CCC under the 2007 consent decree, and logs all boat trips with GPS and show no significant change in activity.  Thus, the CCC chain of hypothesis of harm disintegrates completely not only at the first link, but every segment of the chain.

The Times spoke with Zack Walton, one of the attorneys representing Phyllis Faber and ALSA in the case against the Coastal Commission.  In a July 6 letter, Walton asked the Coastal Commission to correct their misstatements, as he had provided all of the shellfish harvest figures as reported to the CDFW and additional requested by the Coastal Commission in the negotiations of the consent decree.  The record shows that CCC inexplicably ignored their own findings and the 2007 Consent Decree in their latest complaint of Coastal Act violations.

The amount of shellfish harvest is regulated by CDFW under the DBOC lease, which states that the maximum oyster harvest is 850,000 lbs. and the records provided to the Coastal Commission show that DBOC harvest levels since 2007 are consistent with the 2007 Decree, with the most recent annual 2012 harvest level of 531,182 pounds.  As Walton pointed out, “They totally contradict the position they took when we negotiated the 2007 Consent Decree”.  More importantly, the California Coastal Commission is barred from regulating mariculture by CDFG, which is the lead State agency not only for oyster harvest but marine mammal protection as specified in Section 30411(a) of the Coastal Act, which clearly states that CCC may not duplicate or exceed CDFW actions.

Faber points out that the Coastal Commission is on the wrong side of science in this issue, and had made conclusionary statements that fly in the face of their previous action, and directly contradict findings by the scientific panels of the Marine Mammal Commission and the National Academy of Sciences.  The reports of the individual scientists on the MMC board who are leading experts in their field, found no incompatibility with the oyster operations and the health of the estero and its seal population.

The CCC conclusionary claims of immediate ongoing environmental harm are merely unsubstantiated opinions, many in direct conflict with their own documents and trip reports.  A CCC Trip Report from 2007 concluded that “servicing the oyster bags located several hundred yards away from the haul-out sites probably would not result in disturbance to the seals”.  This CCC finding was ignored by the CCC today.  The same Trip Report also raised claims of harm to eelgrass, yet fails to note, as did the National Academy Report, that eel grass coverage benefits from the filtering effects of the oyster cultivation and doubled in coverage in the estero since 1991.

Faber’s stand for scientific and ethical integrity and preserving California’s coastline continues today.  She brought the lawsuit against the CCC with great reluctance, as the Coastal Commission has, in the past, been essential to the preservation of the coastline, but in the Drake’s Estero case, they failed to behave in a fair and equitable manner, becoming a law unto themselves, increasingly arbitrary, litigious and capricious. As she states,  “If they continue to lose the trust of all Californians in their ability to fairly protect the public interest, we all lose.”

 

*Phyllis Faber, one of the founding members of the California Coastal Commission board, who, along with the Alliance for Locally Sustainable Agriculture, has now sued her former organization for their actions against Drakes Bay Oyster Company DBOC and the Lunny family, who operate the historic oyster farm in Drake’s Estero at Point Reyes National Seashore.  Faber is a well-respected scientist for her work in marshland ecology, as well as an environmental icon, responsible for the development of Marin Agricultural Land Trust which has preserved in perpetuity over 30,000 acres of farmland Marin and has served as a model for land trust preservation everywhere.

Speaking of her vital work in the creation of the Coastal Commission, the late Peter Douglas, the first executive director of the Commission, praised Faber for her service. “Throughout the heat of political struggle, Phyllis maintained high standards of integrity and scientific honesty. Her compassion for other creatures with whom we share this planet was matched by her sensitivity to the needs of people and individuals with whom she came in contact. Whenever volunteers were needed in the course of the seven year campaign to enact California’s pioneering and bitterly fought over coastal protection program in the 1970’s, Phyllis was there ready, willing and able to do all she could to help the cause….”

Faber continues to fight for science and integrity and coastal preservation.

http://russianrivertimes.wordpress.com/author/russianrivertimes/

07-15-13: RALLY IN SF TO SAVE DRAKES BAY OYSTER FARM 2-4 PM

RALLY IN SF TO SAVE DRAKES BAY OYSTER FARM

MONDAY 7-15-13

2-4 PM

PIER 7 – WATERFRONT RESTAURANT & CAFE

 

We are asking you to come out and support us at a special rally in San Francisco on Monday, July 15, 2013 as we urge our local elected officials to support the House Natural Resources Committee investigation into the science used to evaluate the environmental impact of shellfish cultivation in Drakes Estero.

As you all know, we are at a pinnacle moment in Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s fight to remain open and we need help from our supporters and friends as we anxiously await a ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The details for the event are below:

WHAT: Save Drakes Bay Rally

WHERE: Waterfront Restaurant and Cafe, 7 Pier, San Francisco, CA 94111

WHEN: Monday, July 15, 2013 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm

WHO: Speakers at the event will be announced later this week.

WHY: For years, the Lunny family, who owns and manages the historic Drakes Bay Oyster Farm has been in a heated legal battle with the Interior Department and the National Park Service over their unjust attempts to close down the farm.

In a decision made last November, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to issue a permit to allow Drakes Bay to continue farming upon the expiration of its 40-year-lease–a lease which allowed it to operate on public land within the Point Reyes National Seashore and which was explicitly renewable.

The Lunnys believe that Salazar based his decision on flawed environmental impact studies which used false science to evaluate the environmental impact of shellfish cultivation in Drakes Estero.

We need our supporters to urge their local elected officials to support the investigation into the science used to evaluate the environmental impact study. There is no excuse for false science, especially by the federal government. Scientific integrity should not be a partisan issue.

We will be sending out additional details later this week. Please RSVP on Facebook by clicking here.

WE APPRECIATE ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT AND HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

07-09-2013 FoodieProjectVideos: Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Published on Jul 9, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Company

 FoodieProjectVideos·18 videos
 

To view the video, please click on the link below or copy and paste it into your web browser:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOdvf0NqXes

 

 

Standard YouTube License

07-09-13 Posted on Facebook page of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. by Pepperhead

“The National Park Service that is spearheading the drive against any business on the coastline (it’s not just Drake’s Bay Oysters that has to worry, friend) is a gluttonous beast without shame or regard in its driving force to remove buildings and businesses, many of which hold as much historical value as any great landmark, and are testaments to families, communities and entire geographical areas that sprouted up around them, often creating ethnic micro-states that thrived in and of themselves and evolved into some of the most productive, pride driven and culturally rich areas we have in America. The ramshackle buildings that are being torn down at an alarming rate, with no public outcry welcome, or even possible, since most of it is done behind closed doors before anyone even knows it’s happening, are as historically important to us as Ellis Island or, more locally, Angel Island. There is no doubt in my mind that the NPS would not think twice about wiping the history of both of these places off the face of the waterlines they inhabit were it not for the great public backlash they would expect from such thoughtless, needless and entirely senseless disregard for the history of our country.”

Tuesday at 5:12pm near Santa Rosa, CA · When someone says, or YOU say, “Drake’s Bay Oyster Company needs to just buck up and pull out, because they don’t belong there”, consider the fact that generations of locals have been fed, clothed, schooled and put to work by the mariculture, aquaculture, agriculture and just plain culture of businesses lining the Sonoma and Marin County coastline.

The National Park Service that is spearheading the drive against any business on the coastline (it’s not just Drake’s Bay Oysters that has to worry, friend) is a gluttonous beast without shame or regard in its driving force to remove buildings and businesses, many of which hold as much historical value as any great landmark, and are testaments to families, communities and entire geographical areas that sprouted up around them, often creating ethnic micro-states that thrived in and of themselves and evolved into some of the most productive, pride driven and culturally rich areas we have in America. The ramshackle buildings that are being torn down at an alarming rate, with no public outcry welcome, or even possible, since most of it is done behind closed doors before anyone even knows it’s happening, are as historically important to us as Ellis Island or, more locally, Angel Island. There is no doubt in my mind that the NPS would not think twice about wiping the history of both of these places off the face of the waterlines they inhabit were it not for the great public backlash they would expect from such thoughtless, needless and entirely senseless disregard for the history of our country.

So, what is the difference between those landmarks and their importance and some of the great historic landmarks in the Marin wetlands encompassing the Drake’s Estero and its environs? The various companies that provided seafood for generation upon generation in Marin and Sonoma Counties are no less important to our sense of self than those of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf or Monterey’s Cannery Row. SF enjoys a tourist trade that will forever disallow the NPS from coming down upon its historical buildings and Cannery Row, though many of its great giants are gone, still caught the edge of the wave and surfed into immortality, but the smaller, more quaint and no less significant concerns amongst those wonderful cliffs and inlets of our coast are seen as blights on the landscape by the shortsighted and poorly run National Park Service.

Don’t take my word for it. Check this beautifully done pictorial essay on the various businesses and farms that have been swallowed up unceremoniously by the Park Service (except when it suits their selfish purpose, as in the RCA Radio transmission station’s buildings in Point Reyes, which the Service chose to keep as official Park service buildings, no doubt to save themselves money) and consider for yourself: what is the difference? Because there is none.

The essay/photo journalistic story is short and telling, in my view. Aptly named “An Evolving Landscape”, http://www.lauraalicewatt.com/#an-evolving-landscape/1  , it captures the essence of our coast, its importance to those who inhabit it and the fact that, though things come and go upon its surface, they eventually leave no trace unless we choose to bestow upon them the value of history. 

With DBOC, their specific history is deep and rich, not always the environmentally considerate one it now is, but when the Lunnys purchased it with the hope of making it not only a thriving business capable of providing the lion’s share of oysters consumed in California, they changed the way the business had been run and took it into the new age of environmentally focused, future-thinking eco friendly climate and made it not just a success, but a model. When you look at the photos of this great (short) essay, consider what possible benefit could be derived from the removal of the farm, the dislocation of thirty families who work their diligently and carefully, and consider also what political environs could pursue such a course and why they might do so. Then look again at the photos and see how the Estero has survived in spite of REAL threats, real enemies, such as Corporate America, and consider which buildings still stand and why.

If you’re like me, it may give you pause. I have been backing this cause relentlessly since its inception because I believe we need to take a stand as a society occasionally. We need to stand as one and say NO MORE! ENOUGH! This is certainly one of those cases. Stand behind the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company!!! READ the facts of who and what they are before it is too late.

07-03-13 Point Reyes Light: Ingrid Noyes “Visit the (oyster) Farm Yourself”

I agree that it’s a good idea to ask ourselves what we want to pass on to future generations. I would like to be able to take my kids and grandchildren to the farm, enjoy some oysters and see our state’s only remaining oyster cannery and a small business providing local, sustainable food.

 

I agree that nature has a right to exist. When I hike the trails around the farm, I see nature existing. As far as exploiting wilderness, all farms essentially “exploit” wilderness. This is how we get our food. 

 

Yes, there should be no further development there. No, the creators of this potential wilderness area never intended to shut down the farm. Yes, the 100-year-old farm should be allowed to continue to produce the good food and jobs it provides.

 

The oyster farm is irreplaceable. Removing it will cause far more environmental damage than leaving it, including the vastly larger carbon footprint of importing oysters from long distances.

LETTERS to the Editor

 

Visit the (oyster) farm yourself

 

Dear Editor,

 

In response to Carissa Brand’s letter in last week’s Light, I wonder if Ms. Brand has ever been to Drakes Bay Oyster Company, and whether she would use the same language if she knew a little more about it.

 

For example, privatization means making something private that was previously public; the oyster farm was there long before the land was made public, and the legislators who helped create the park never intended to shut down the ranches or the oyster farm.

 

Concentration of wealth? This is a family-run farm. The Lunnys make a living for themselves and their employees, not mega-profits.

 

Outside interests? Kevin Lunny was born and raised on this land. I also grew up in this community, and I think I can say that most of us who are “native” to the area are in support of the oyster farm remaining. We are not “outside interests.”

 

It’s probably also true that those who want to shut it down are relatively new to the community, or don’t even live here. Thus, they have far less understanding of our history, and many have surely never seen the farm.

 

I agree that it’s a good idea to ask ourselves what we want to pass on to future generations. I would like to be able to take my kids and grandchildren to the farm, enjoy some oysters and see our state’s only remaining oyster cannery and a small business providing local, sustainable food.

 

I agree that nature has a right to exist. When I hike the trails around the farm, I see nature existing. As far as exploiting wilderness, all farms essentially “exploit” wilderness. This is how we get our food.

 

Yes, there should be no further development there. No, the creators of this potential wilderness area never intended to shut down the farm. Yes, the 100-year-old farm should be allowed to continue to produce the good food and jobs it provides.

 

The oyster farm is irreplaceable. Removing it will cause far more environmental damage than leaving it, including the vastly larger carbon footprint of importing oysters from long distances.

 

Finally, as far as division in our community, it’s okay to have different opinions; those differences need not necessarily create division. Dale Sorensen, for example, is someone I’ve known and liked for years; her stand on this issue does not diminish my affection for her.

 

I do wish that all those who are in opposition to Drakes Bay would please educate themselves on what’s really at stake. Visit the farm if you haven’t ever been there, talk to the people working there, try a jar of oysters, go for a nearby hike, talk to neighboring ranchers—and then see if you still have a problem with it.

 

Ingrid Noyes

Marshall

07-02-13 Sonoma Magazine: The Oyster & the Wilderness

In many ways, the Lunnys are as unlikely a couple as any you’ll find to be engulfed in the kind of knock-down-drag-out fight that has roiled the community and upset patterns of rural life. But the bitter feud and the often-vitriolic language that accompanies it haven’t embittered or discouraged them. “The beauty in all this is that we’re not in it alone,” Kevin tells me over lunch. “The community really cares and they’ve come to our aid.” Listening to him, I get the feeling that he’d much rather talk about the acidification of the Pacific Ocean, which threatens oysters from Washington to California, and about the coastal grasslands and prairies where his own herds of cattle graze—than argue about the facts in the court case or discuss the foul language that rural folks have hurled at one another. 

Still, Kevin enjoys talking about wilderness and the Point Reyes Peninsula, where he has lived and worked most of his life. The son of parents who were ranchers, he went away to college at UC Davis, and then came home because he loved the land and the coastline. Nancy shares that passion and she’s a powerhouse in her own right.

 

 

The Oyster and the Wilderness

Uncivil war, bivalve seduction, and the meaning of wild

STORY JONAH RASKIN PHOTOS JON A. SOLIDAY

Jul 2, 2013 – 07:23 PM

 

The quintessential Italian lover boy, Casanova, wolfed oysters by the score before he prowled Venice at night, searching for women to entice into his amorous arms—or so legend has it. The Miwok Indians harvested oysters on the Marin and Sonoma Coast for thousands of years, piling the empty shells into mounds known as “middens.” That’s an archeological fact.

Then, too, M.F.K. Fisher, the legendary food writer—who chronicled far more than just gourmet dishes like oysters Rockefeller and oyster bisque—served them chilled on the half shell, along with champagne, to guests at her Sonoma Valley home in Glen Ellen.

Oak Hill Farm’s Anne Teller still savors those seductive and unforgettable evenings with Fisher and friends—the oysters cold, the champagne even colder.

Readers of Fisher’s books are not likely to forget her mouthwatering descriptions. “The delightful taste of the oyster in my mouth, my new-born gourmandize, sent me toward an unknown rather than a known sensuality,” Fisher wrote in a buoyant essay titled, “The First Oyster,” in which she describes her initial encounter with the lowly bivalve when she was a teenager in 1924. She writes as enthusiastically about her first oyster as she might her first sexual experience.

Food and sex have been inseparable throughout history, and perhaps no food is linked more explicitly than the oyster. Harvested from Cape Cod in New England to Drakes Estero on the Marin County coast, it has long been thought to be gustatory gold. Recent scientific studies prove its powerful aphrodisiac effect, crediting the high levels of zinc. Wow! Fortunately for Wine Country oyster lovers and for head-over-heels lovers of all kinds, oysters are available at various local restaurants, including Meritage Martini Oyster Bar & Grill, just off the Sonoma Plaza, the Glen Ellen Inn in Glen Ellen, where they’re served baked, fried, and raw, and at Valley Ford Hotel where they serve delectable “Rocker Oysterfellers.”

 

 

As every oyster lover by now surely knows, Drakes Estero oysters are at the heart of a rumpus that has turned into an uncivil war. The fracas has also generated mounds of local and national news stories with citizens such as Senator Dianne Feinstein and chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse—the foodie’s flagship restaurant in Berkeley—adding zest and sparkle. Diehard environmental groups, land trusts in Sonoma and Marin, farmers of the sea and of dry land, plus tea-baggers from far-off Louisiana—where locals and tourists alike love their oysters deep fried in po’ boys—have also weighed in.

On one side of the controversy, there’s Drakes Bay Oyster Company, owned by Kevin and Nancy Lunny. Drakes Bay claims to produce 40 percent of the commercial oysters in all of California (opponents say that’s impossible, that 70 percent come from Humboldt Bay). It even supplies other oyster companies, such as Hog Island in Tomales Bay, when their supplies run low. On the other side of the controversy, there’s the powerful U.S. Department of the Interior, which aims to turn Drakes Bay into a marine wilderness. Last fall, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar came all the way to Point Reyes to tell the Lunnys in no uncertain terms to get out of the waters of Drakes Estero and to close down their funky Oyster Shack.

For Salazar and supporters of the conversion to wilderness, the issue couldn’t have been simpler: the Lunny’s lease was up, their time had run out, and like all tenants in the same or a similar boat, they had to vacate. According to the Wilderness Act of 1964, which created the National Wilderness System, commercial operations, such as Drakes Bay Oyster Company, are incompatible with wilderness areas, where human activity is supposed to be minimal.

For the Lunnys and their supporters, who include many environmentalists as well as foodies, the issue has never been as clear as Salazar and some wilderness lovers have made it seem. In fact, the lease argument isn’t bulletproof, some claim, since the California Fish and Game Commission signed a renewable 25-year lease with the Lunnys, good through 2029. Opponents say it’s canceled unless the feds approve, and they don’t. But cattle ranchers all around the oyster company have long-term leases, and when the Point Reyes National Seashore was created in the 1960s the idea was to
incorporate ranching, oystering, backpacking, hiking, picnicking, bird-watching, and more. That’s what former Congressman and co-author of the Endangered Species Act Pete McCloskey says, and he was in on the deal from day one. What’s known these days as “working landscapes” were to co-exist with wild places. Kevin and Nancy insist they weren’t pipe-dreaming when they thought that their lease might well be extended and that they could continue to plant and harvest oysters as they’d been doing for years.

Now everything and everyone seems to be in upheaval on the foggy, windswept peninsula that’s buffeted by the Pacific Ocean. Soon after the Lunnys were told they had to leave, longtime ranchers began to worry they might be on the chopping block next, though agriculture has become sacrosanct in Marin. Cows and sheep on the coast are as much a part of the landscape as seagulls and pelicans. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) fights fiercely for farmers and for protection of the environment, too. Any government agency that aimed to dispossess the ranchers on the peninsula would have to wage a costly battle against MALT and against a whole community.

In the American tradition, the Lunnys hired lawyers and took their case to court soon after Salazar told them they had to leave. The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in mid-May.

Meanwhile, the Lunnys continued to harvest and sell oysters, perhaps more than ever before and not just to foodies. The publicity has been good for business. Folks from all over California—including waves of Asians and Latinos—have been driving to Drakes Estero to devour the bivalves in great quantities.

I’ve been to the Lunnys’ Oyster Shack a few times to eat oysters on the half shell and to bring them home. In my kitchen, I’ve made oyster stew, oyster bisque, and oysters Rockefeller, following the recipes that M. F. K. Fisher provides in her classic, Consider the Oyster, which taught me the basics of oyster cuisine, oyster biology, and oyster history. Moreover, unwilling to accept the stories I read online and in newspapers, I signed up for a tour of Drakes Bay Oyster Company near the very point of the Point Reyes Peninsula, where I felt instantly like I was at the ends of the earth. Indeed, you can’t go any farther west, except into the Pacific Ocean, perhaps the last real wilderness on the face of the earth.

Scott Yancy, a big, burly, good-natured fellow from back East, has adjusted nicely to life on the edge of the Pacific. He is one of the mainstays at Drakes Bay. “We call it Little Alaska,” he tells me. “The women who work here say they don’t get old, they just get rusty.” A graduate of St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania, where he learned about the Ming Dynasty and the Chinese emperors, Yancy knows the history of the oyster inside and out. “Oysters clean the water, promote eel grass and biodiversity,” he tells me. “What we do here is sustainable farming. We’re good stewards, and oysters are a great food supply—they’re a fantastic source of protein. If you were truly green you’d support us. We’re well worth saving.”

Soon after Yancy showed me the works at Drakes Bay Oyster Company, I had lunch with the Lunnys—who have become modest local heroes—at Rancho Nicasio, where the waitress recognized them and told them she informs all her customers about their cause. (I ate oysters; they had salads.) These days, you can hardly find a restaurant around Wine Country where the Lunnys don’t have warm friends and close allies. A sign outside Sonoma’s Meritage reads, “Save Our Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm.” Similar signs have popped up across Marin and Sonoma counties and on websites, too.

 

In many ways, the Lunnys are as unlikely a couple as any you’ll find to be engulfed in the kind of knock-down-drag-out fight that has roiled the community and upset patterns of rural life. But the bitter feud and the often-vitriolic language that accompanies it haven’t embittered or discouraged them. “The beauty in all this is that we’re not in it alone,” Kevin tells me over lunch. “The community really cares and they’ve come to our aid.” Listening to him, I get the feeling that he’d much rather talk about the acidification of the Pacific Ocean, which threatens oysters from Washington to California, and about the coastal grasslands and prairies where his own herds of cattle graze—than argue about the facts in the court case or discuss the foul language that rural folks have hurled at one another.

Still, Kevin enjoys talking about wilderness and the Point Reyes Peninsula, where he has lived and worked most of his life. The son of parents who were ranchers, he went away to college at UC Davis, and then came home because he loved the land and the coastline. Nancy shares that passion and she’s a powerhouse in her own right. Over the last few months, Kevin has thought long and hard about Point Reyes, and about the government’s long-ago designation as a “potential wilderness.”

At the heart of the debate seems to be the question of what it means to transform the “potential” Point Reyes wilderness into an “actual” wilderness. For some residents, including West Marin writer and rancher Mark Dowie, it’s a matter of semantics. How, indeed, does one define “wilderness”? Few words have been as thorny in all of American history. Hundreds of books have been written about the subject and yet bewilderment reigns. Kevin tells me, “I don’t know of a place around here that you could point to as truly wild.” He adds, “A wild place, a real wilderness, is where man does not have a significant footprint. Look around here. You’ll see roads, parking lots, power lines, barns, and fences. You’ll hear cows mooing. It’s very civilized. Don’t get me wrong. Nancy and I and our kids love wilderness. We go hiking in the Marble Mountains. The trails there don’t have 2,000,000 visitors a year as Point Reyes National Seashore does. In summer this place is mobbed with tourists.”

Proponents of the wilderness idea—at least “the purists” among them—insist that the oyster shack is inconsistent with plans to transform the National Seashore into something primitive and elemental, something closer to the way the land and sea were before Europeans and Americans arrived. The purists claim that the oyster operation has inflicted damage on sea life and sea creatures. They point to debated data that, according to a scathing letter by California’s senior U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, is potentially fraudulent. In a letter to then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Feinstein charged, “The Park Service has falsified and misrepresented data, hidden science, and even promoted employees who knew about the falsehoods, all in an effort to advance a predetermined outcome against the oyster farm. Using 17-year-old data from a New Jersey jet skis case as documentation of noise from oyster boat engines in the estuary is incomprehensible.

“It is my belief that the case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company is deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”

That opinion is shared by eminent neuroscientist Dr. Corey Goodman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the prestigious Dawson Prize in genetics, who lives in nearby Marshall. Goodman took apart, piece-by-piece, the environmental allegations that the Park Service and its supporters made against the Lunnys, and concluded that the oyster operation did not disrupt the habitat of the beloved harbor seals, interfere with the birthing of seal pups, or contaminate the estuary. In fact, it appears that kayakers and hikers often intrude into waters and shoreline that are, or should be off-limits, in the wilderness part of the estero, and that they thereby caused real harm.

Speaking before the Sonoma City Council in June, Goodman said he had filed a “scientific misconduct” claim against the Park Service. “There is not a shred of evidence that the oyster farm is doing any harm to the Drakes Estero,” he insisted.

It is, nevertheless, easy to understand the passion of the wilderness proponents. After all, the planet is increasingly paved; urban and suburban sprawl seems almost everywhere, even in Wine Country. Pollution of air, land, and water has reached critical levels. We’re suffocating in our own trash, the oceans are rising, and global climate change is upon us. “Please, please,” citizens practically beg, “give us the wilderness” which, as Henry David Thoreau noted in Walden, is a “tonic.”

Jules Evens, the author of a compelling guidebook, Natural History of the Point Reyes Peninsula, looks back to a time before Sir Francis Drake arrived in 1579 at what is now Drakes Bay. Evens waxes poetic about a past before Punto de Los Reyes became the modern Point Reyes. “In the old days, before the dams, when the streams were free,” Evens says, “the people began to prepare for the return of the salmon when the days shortened and ravens soared in circles over the ridge.” It’s a powerful and a seductive myth that he conjures—the myth of a primitive past that’s untamed, pure, and pristine.

The myth of the oyster is no less compelling. Eating an oyster seems sometimes akin to swallowing the wild of the world itself. At Meritage, chef Carlo Alessandro Cavallo offers the Lunnys’ oysters as well as bivalves from the East Coast—both raw and cooked —and sells them as fast as he can shuck them, as many as 2,000 a week. “I’ve been doing this for 14 years,” he tells me. “We’ve had a long run. I like oysters with a little lemon juice and very, very cold. They have to be well chilled. And what they say about oysters as an aphrodisiac is true. Take it from me. I know.”

Over the last six months, I’ve eaten more oysters than ever and have come to enjoy them thoroughly. Along with oyster lovers across the country, I feel a personal stake in the outcome of the trial, and I look forward to reading the decision of the Ninth Circuit.

Some observers believe that Constitutional issues are involved and that the case may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Then, perhaps, when all the different sides are articulated, we’ll have far more accurate information than we do now. The ideal solution, it would seem, is for wilderness and sustainable “mericulture” —there’s a fairly new term—to co-exist. After all, Thoreau, the archnaturalist and patron saint of conservationists, farmed in the woods at Walden Pond. And now, more than ever, we need food that’s locally and organically produced.

In May and June, while the judges at the Ninth Circuit deliberated, 10 to 20 million oysters at various stages of development went on flourishing in the clear, clean, nearly pristine waters that the Lunnys leased. Mexican farmworkers—such as Jorge Mata—almost all of them from Jalisco, went on planting, tending, and harvesting bivalves. Maybe the fate of the Mexican crew ought not to figure in the legalities of the case, but their plight is caught up with the plight of the oysters, the Lunnys, the park, and the wilderness itself. They’re all a part of the same whole. If the oyster farm closes, so will the world of Jorge Mata, his family and his co-workers. Closing Drakes Bay Oyster Company will put them all out of work. Many wise and thoughtful people believe farming and wilderness can coexist, and that farmers and ranchers can be some of the best stewards of land and sea. Maybe now’s the time to turn that wild idea into a civilized reality and to end the uncivil oyster war that has divided citizens all across Northern California.

How To Shuck An Oyster

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster,” so said satirist Jonathan Swift.  Bold or starving. Not sure, but lucky for us he did and discovered one of nature’s most desirable delicacies. If you’re lucky enough to indulge, here’s how to shuck a fresh oyster.

Scrub the oysters under cold water with a stiff brush. Using heavy gloves, to protect you from the knife and razor-sharp shell, hold the oyster firmly in one hand and an oyster knife or dull butter knife in the other. (An oyster knife is your best bet. Designed for the task, it has a short and stout blade with a downward curve at the tip, to make shucking safe and effective.)

Have a small bowl handy to catch the juice. Position the oyster so the curved side faces into your hand and the flat side faces up. Slip the tip of the knife between the top and bottom shell near the hinge and run it around the oyster. With gentle force, using a twisting motion, pry the shell apart. Using the knife, cut the muscle away from the top shell, bend the shell back, and discard it. Carefully run the knife underneath the oyster, sliding against the surface of the bottom shell to loosen. Keep the shell as level as possible to save the juices inside. Collect any spills in the bowl—you’ll want to pour this flavorful juice over the oysters on the half shell. Nestle the opened oysters in a bed of crushed ice or rock salt.

Choose oysters that feel heavy and full in your hand. Oysters lose moisture once removed from the ocean; the heaviness indicates they were freshly harvested. They should smell briny and almost sweet like the sea. Keep unopened until ready to serve. Store the unopened oysters between two beds of ice, deep-side down to retain their juices and consume within one day. Oysters must be eaten alive or cooked alive. Never store in fresh water—they will open, consume available oxygen, and die. Ideally, shuck the oyster within two hours of serving. The flavor and texture of the oyster is enhanced the colder it is, and the colder the oyster the easier to open.

—Therese Nugent

 

Reprinted from the summer 2013 issue of SONOMA magazine

06-27-13 UC Davis Study finds Cattle Grazing/Clean Water Compatible on Public Lands

“Cattle grazing and clean water can coexist on national forest lands, according to research by the University of California, Davis.”

 

Cattle grazing and clean water are compatible on public lands, new study finds

 

June 27, 2013

 

The study, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, is the most comprehensive examination of water quality on National Forest public grazing lands to date.

“There’s been a lot of concern about public lands and water quality, especially with cattle grazing,” said lead author Leslie Roche, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. “We’re able to show that livestock grazing, public recreation and the provisioning of clean water can be compatible goals.”

Roughly 1.8 million livestock graze on national forest lands in the western United States each year, the study said. In California, 500 active grazing allotments support 97,000 livestock across 8 million acres on 17 national forests.

“With an annual recreating population of over 26 million, California’s national forests are at the crossroad of a growing debate about the compatibility of livestock grazing with other activities dependent upon clean, safe water,” the study’s authors write.

“We often hear that livestock production isn’t compatible with environmental goals,” said principal investigator Kenneth Tate, a Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. “This helps to show that’s not absolutely true. There is no real evidence that we’re creating hot spots of human health risk with livestock grazing in these areas.”

The study was conducted in 2011, during the grazing and recreation season of June through November. Nearly 40 UC Davis researchers, ranchers, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service staff and environmental stakeholders went out by foot and on horseback, hiking across meadows, along campsites, and down ravines to collect 743 water samples from 155 sites across five national forests in northern California.

These areas stretched from Klamath National Forest to Plumas, Tahoe, Stanislaus, and Shasta-Trinity national forests. They included key cattle grazing areas, recreational lands and places where neither cattle nor humans tend to wander.

UC Davis researchers analyzed the water samples for microbial and nutrient pollution, including fecal indicator bacteria, fecal coliform, E. coli, nitrogen and phosphorous.

The scientists found that recreation sites were the cleanest, with the lowest levels of fecal indicator bacteria. They found no significant differences in fecal indicator bacteria between grazing lands and areas without recreation or grazing. Overall, 83 percent of all sample sites and 95 percent of all water samples collected were below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency benchmarks for human health.

The study noted that several regional regulatory programs use different water quality standards for fecal bacteria. For instance, most of the study’s sample sites would exceed levels set by a more restrictive standard based on fecal coliform concentrations. However, the U.S. EPA states that E. coli are better indicators of fecal contamination and provide the most accurate assessment of water quality conditions and human health risks.

The study also found that all nutrient concentrations were at or below background levels, and no samples exceeded concentrations of ecological or human health concern.

The study was funded by the USDA Forest Service, Region 5

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Additional information:
Read the study.
Download photos of researchers in the field, cattle and the study area.
Learn more about grazing and water quality.

Media contact(s):

 

Copyright © The Regents of the University of California, Davis campus. All Rights Reserved.

06-25-13 Marin IJ: Dr. Creque Challenge to Huffman

“In the debate over whether 80 years of California Fish and Game Commission aquaculture leases in Drakes Estero should continue to provide 55 percent of California’s sustainable shellfish production capacity, perhaps, for the sake of our civil democracy, we can agree that any decision should be based upon verifiable facts, and the actual — rather than illusory — consequences of this choice.

Surely, as our representative, a Democrat, and an environmentalist, Rep. Jared Huffman, will support an open congressional airing of the scientific, legal and policy questions surrounding this matter, so seriously impacting the present, and future, well-being of his district.”

 

 

Marin Readers’ Forum for June 25

From Marin Independent Journal readers

Posted:   06/24/2013 03:27:31 PM PDT

Drakes Estero leases

 

While we may not be able to agree on what is knowledge versus what is orthodoxy, we must agree on the criteria by which that distinction is made if our democracy is to survive. There may be no perfect Truth, but there are claims that can be verified by empirical facts and those that cannot. Our democracy depends upon the capacity to recognize the difference.

Historical facts are subject to corroboration by an examination of the documentary record. Scientific fact is subject to validation through data and testable hypotheses.

Democracy is compromised when we substitute opinion and prejudice, however passionately held, for science and reason.

In the words of Chris Hedges, “A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudoevents, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.” Facts must prevail if freedom is to survive.

In the debate over whether 80 years of California Fish and Game Commission aquaculture leases in Drakes Estero should continue to provide 55 percent of California’s sustainable shellfish production capacity, perhaps, for the sake of our civil democracy, we can agree that any decision should be based upon verifiable facts, and the actual — rather than illusory — consequences of this choice.

Surely, as our representative, a Democrat, and an environmentalist, Rep. Jared Huffman, will support an open congressional airing of the scientific, legal and policy questions surrounding this matter, so seriously impacting the present, and future, well-being of his district.

Jeffrey Creque, Petaluma

 

Dr. Creque is a Land Stewardship Consultant

06-22-2013 Marin IJ OpEd: Science is on the Side of Open and Transparent Inquiry

“The biggest threat to the National Wilderness Act today is the prolonged smear campaign levied against our state-owned shellfish leases in Drakes Estero. By fabricating a case of environmental harm where none exists, by denying the state’s retained rights, including mineral rights and rights to its shellfish leases in Drakes Estero, by trampling upon the forty-year collaboration between the Park Service and the state Fish and Game Commission and shredding the National Environmental Policy Act, Richard and others undermine the legitimacy of the process by which segments of our national geography are designated “wilderness.”

If Huffman wishes to ensure the future of the Wilderness Act, as well as the Bay Area’s capacity to feed itself, he should declare his support for a bipartisan investigation into the science — and policy — used in decisions affecting shellfish production capacity in Drakes Estero.”

 

Marin Voice: Science is on the side of open and transparent Inquiry

By Web Otis
Guest op-ed column

Posted:   06/22/2013 02:52:53 PM PDT

WHY WOULD Dominique Richard (Marin Voice, May 18) or anyone, oppose an open, bipartisan review of the science surrounding the Drakes Bay oyster farm?

The National Park Service has a mandate to protect natural, cultural and historical resources and the oyster farm falls within all three categories.

Contrary to Richard’s claim, two National Academy of Sciences reports on Drakes Estero, one in 2009 and another in 2012, reveal that oyster farming there has no significant negative impacts, functionally replacing ecological services performed by the native oyster, extirpated by over-harvesting in the late 1800s.

Farming native oysters back into the ecosystem has been successful in other estuaries, but efforts by the oyster farm to reestablish native Olympia oysters in Drakes Estero, despite NOAA research funding and support, have been blocked by the Park Service.

After over 80 years of oyster cultivation in Drakes Estero, the “Precautionary Principle,” which Richard evokes, dictates the oyster farm should remain.

In his dismissal of Sim Van der Ryn’s (Marin Voice, April 28) call for a bipartisan congressional investigation, Richard shows his hand. Anyone actually interested in getting to the truth around this controversy would support the call for Rep. Jared Huffman, as a member of the House committee, representing all of California’s shellfish aquaculture production areas, to facilitate a credible congressional inquiry.

If Richard truly favors “sunlight” on the science surrounding this controversy, we have, at last, a point of agreement. We also agree that, —… scientific disagreement, even honest errors, are not misconduct.” But policy should not — must not — be based upon erroneous science.

Richard may choose to believe that oyster boats located seven hundred yards from seal haul out areas cause seal pups to be separated from their mothers, but multiple reviews conducted since 2008 have found no evidence of any kind to support that belief.

Those shellfish water bottom leases belong to us, citizens of this state, and represent the majority of the Bay Area’s sustainable shellfish production capacity.

Richard and others may enjoy bullying the lessees, but it is “We the People,” as statutory owners of those leases, and consumers of locally produced shellfish, they are ultimately attacking.

If this assault against the sustainable production of shellfish on 55 percent of the state’s water bottoms is successful, our ability to produce “super green” local seafood, at a time of near collapse of other global fisheries, will be decimated.

The biggest threat to the National Wilderness Act today is the prolonged smear campaign levied against our state-owned shellfish leases in Drakes Estero. By fabricating a case of environmental harm where none exists, by denying the state’s retained rights, including mineral rights and rights to its shellfish leases in Drakes Estero, by trampling upon the forty-year collaboration between the Park Service and the state Fish and Game Commission and shredding the National Environmental Policy Act, Richard and others undermine the legitimacy of the process by which segments of our national geography are designated “wilderness.”

If Huffman wishes to ensure the future of the Wilderness Act, as well as the Bay Area’s capacity to feed itself, he should declare his support for a bipartisan investigation into the science — and policy — used in decisions affecting shellfish production capacity in Drakes Estero.

Web Otis of Stinson Beach has been active in planning issues at Point Reyes National Seashore.

 

06-22-13 Marin IJ: Huffman response to Goodman “Breathtakingly Inadequate” says Inverness resident Greenberg

“Rep. Jared Huffman’s response to Corey Goodman’s request for transparency and truth is breathtakingly inadequate.

First, acknowledging that the National Park Service has demonized a local family and overstated environmental harm, and then declining to do anything about it is like watching domestic abuse and dismissing it as a “family problem.”

 

Marin Readers’ Forum for June 23

From Marin Independent Journal readers

Posted:   06/22/2013 02:53:57 PM PDT
Huffman reply inadequate

Rep. Jared Huffman’s response to Corey Goodman’s request for transparency and truth is breathtakingly inadequate.

First, acknowledging that the National Park Service has demonized a local family and overstated environmental harm, and then declining to do anything about it is like watching domestic abuse and dismissing it as a “family problem.”

Just what exactly does Rep. Huffman think his job is, if not to keep a local family from being stomped by government thugs?

None of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s supporters that I know have urged Huffman to support the “Energy Production and Project Delivery Act.”

First, as Huffman knows, that is a Senate bill and has nothing to do with the Rep. Doc Hastings call for a House investigation into questionable Park Service science.

Why would Huffman try to conflate the two unless he was trying to deceive? Rep. Huffman need not paint us with his “Republican monster under the bed” paintbrush. It insults his constituency and speaks little for his character.

Also, Goodman was clear about what former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, and Rep. Huffman repeated it word for word. Quoting Salazar’s absurd footnote is humorous. It reminds me of a lawyer in court making an outrageous claim, having the judge strike it, and then instructing the jury to ignore it. Really?

Jared Huffman needs to remember that his title is representative. I see little representation in this political piece that he has written.

If Huffman would like to help heal the community he should start by listening to Goodman and supporting an investigation into the truth.

Michael Greenberg, Inverness

06-21-13 Jeffrey Creque Rebuts Huffman OpEd in Marin IJ

Drakes Estero

While we may not be able to agree on what is knowledge versus what is orthodoxy, we must agree on the criteria by which that distinction is made if our democracy is to survive.  There may be no perfect Truth, but there are certainly claims that can be verified by empirical facts and those that cannot, and our democracy depends upon the capacity to recognize the difference.

 

Historical facts are subject to corroboration by an examination of the documentary record. Scientific fact is subject to validation through data and testable hypotheses.  Belief, on the other hand, can be neither confirmed nor falsified. American democracy is compromised when we substitute opinion and prejudice, however passionately held, for science and reason.

 

In the words of Chris Hedges,  “A populace deprived of the ability to separate lies from truth, that has become hostage to the fictional semblance of reality put forth by pseudo-events, is no longer capable of sustaining a free society.” Facts must prevail if freedom is to survive.

 

In the debate over whether 80 years of California Fish and Game Commission aquaculture leases in Drakes Estero should continue to provide 55% of California’s sustainable shellfish production capacity, perhaps, for the sake of our civil democracy, we can agree that that decision should be based, not upon belief, however fervently held, nor orthodoxy, whether of the Sierra Club, the EAC, the NPCA, or the NPS, but upon verifiable facts, supported by untainted data and informed by open, rational discussion of the options, and the actual -rather than illusional- consequences of this choice, so critical to the future of our community, our state, and the anticipated 21 million human inhabitants of our beleaguered region.

 

Surely, as representative, democrat, and environmentalist, Mr. Huffman will support an open Congressional airing of the scientific, legal and policy questions surrounding this matter, so seriously impacting the present, and future, well being of his District.

 

Jeffrey Creque

Petaluma

 

06-21-13 Marin IJ: Attorney Peter Prows’ response to Huffman

Response to Huffman

Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar denied the Drakes Bay Oyster permit in part because of the alleged “incompatibility of commercial activities in wilderness and not on the data that was asserted to be flawed.”

From this quote, Congressman Jared Huffman concludes that the admittedly flawed science is a “red flag”, and he accuses Corey Goodman of contributing to the death of “civility and truth” by critiquing that science.

Huffman seems to think the real problem is that his constituents might question government, not that government used false science (plus arbitrary reinterpretations of law and policy) to abuse his constituents.

For decades, the National Park Service, Sierra Club and citizens groups supported continuation of the oyster farm in perpetuity. More recently, however, the Park Service and some groups reversed position and insisted the farm must go. One prong of their attack was to reinterpret law and policy. The other was to falsely accuse the farm of causing serious — even criminal — environmental harm.

The legality of Salazar’s decision is now in the hands of the courts. But the false science remains important.

Salazar cited the false science in his decision. The government and oyster farm opponents cite the false science in every brief they file in the courts for why the “public good” favors kicking out the oyster farm.

The false science has gone on to infect the Coastal Commission’s decisions about the oyster farm. And ranchers and farmers in West Marin worry they’re next.

Congressman Huffman, what’s your plan?

Peter Prows, Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP, San Francisco

06-20-13 Washington Examiner: Fed Officials Spinning Science to Suit Agenda

“Goodman found no support for the [NPS] claims. Instead, he said he discovered that NPS was pulling data from unrelated studies, including a 50-year-old work on oyster feces in Japan and another on jet skies in New Jersey, to justify its environmental analysis of the company.

“That is scientific misconduct, there is no question,” he said. “That is a pattern.”

Washington Examiner

Federal officials spinning science to suit agenda, critics claim

BY: MICHAL CONGER JUNE 20, 2013 | 3:32 PM

Topics: Watchdog Science and Technology

Cory Goodman, a neurobiologist and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, took on the National Park Service in 2007 when a Marin County supervisor asked him to evaluate National Park Service claims that oyster farming was harming harbor seals and plant life in Drakes Bay. (Photo: Thinkstock)

U.S. Department of the Interior officials regularly use distorted scientific research to advance ideological agendas, according to a California scientist.

‘DOI suggested that this was circular reasoning that would lead to more of the same — bias, a lack of independence, and a resulting whitewash. — Cory Goodman’

“Over at Interior, science is taking backseat to ideology,” Cory Goodman told the Washington Examiner in a recent interview. He pointed to DOI’s actions against the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which is nearing the end of a long battle in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The company is struggling to keep operating in Drakes Estero, part of a national seashore area in Marin County, Calif. Then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided in November 2012 against renewing the permit that allowed owners Kevin and Nancy Lunny to farm on public land there.

Goodman, a neurobiologist and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, took on the National Park Service in 2007 when a Marin County supervisor asked him to evaluate National Park Service claims that oyster farming was harming harbor seals and plant life in Drakes Bay. Goodman took on the analysis “out of public service,” he added, and has not been paid for his work.

Goodman found no support for the claims. Instead, he said he discovered that NPS was pulling data from unrelated studies, including a 50-year-old work on oyster feces in Japan and another on jet skies in New Jersey, to justify its environmental analysis of the company.

“That is scientific misconduct, there is no question,” he said. “That is a pattern.”

Since DOI created a scientific integrity policy in 2011 to hold officials accountable for the integrity of their research, it has closed 12 misconduct claims, including one filed with the department by Goodman in 2012. Each was decided in DOI’s favor.

Having such complaints against DOI be filed with and adjudicated by the department is a conflict of interest, Goodman said. He wrote to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy requesting that officials there oversee an investigation into his claims of DOI misconduct, but was told to filed his complaint with DOI anyway.

“I suggested that this was circular reasoning that would lead to more of the same — bias, a lack of independence, and a resulting whitewash,” he told the Washington Examiner.

Another case in which DOI absolved itself of wrongdoing was a Bureau of Reclamation environmental impact study on removing dams on Oregon’s Klamath River.

Paul Houser, who was the scientific integrity officer for the Bureau, told the Examiner the bureau was “distorting” data to support dam removal because it was a priority for Salazar.

“You can do a lot of things without going and actually changing the data,” Houser, now a professor at George Mason University, said. “What I saw in my case … was that they were taking a very one-sided view of the scientific findings.”

Houser said the bureau forced him out in February 2012 after he raised concerns of biased research. He filed a scientific integrity complaint and a whistleblower claim with the department.

The DOI Office of the Inspector General dropped its whistleblower investigation after five days and passed it off to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which handles personnel conflicts. OSC resolved the issue in December 2012.

Bureau scientists also presented misleading data in their reports, Houser said. The environmental analysis estimated dam removal would boost the river’s Chinook Salmon population by an unusually precise 81.4 percent.

The number was actually the median estimate from a separate study that predicted dam removal would result in anything from a 59.9 percent drop to an 881.4 percent growth in the salmon population, Houser said, citing a report in Nature magazine.

Another case that raised allegations of biased science was the DOI rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone rule. A 2011 draft of new coal mining regulations projected that the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s proposal would wipe out 7,000 jobs to protect streams.

The House Natural Resources Committee recently sent a letter renewing its previous requests for information from DOI on why it sided with environmental groups to throw out the 2008 rule and spend almost $8 million creating a new one.

After the draft job impact estimates came out in 2011, audio recordings obtained by the committee show OSM Counsel to Director Joseph Pizarchik telling contractors to do the impact statement as if the 2008 rule had been implemented to change the numbers.

The team refused to use “fabricated” methods to soften the job loss numbers, according to November 2011 testimony before the Natural Resources Committee by Steven Gardner, president of consulting firm ECSI, one of the subcontractors.

OSM also pressured the contractors to “revisit” job loss estimates to produce a lesser economic impact, Gardner said in his testimony.

After ignoring repeated requests for information, DOI in March and April sent the Natural Resources Committee a batch of documents — most of which were already publicly available — that didn’t satisfy the panel’s request, according to a committee spokesman.

Another case of data manipulation, according to the committee, was DOI’s January 2012 ban on new uranium mining on federal land in Arizona.

In his decision, Salazar said the moratorium would protect water resources, but the draft environmental impact statement by the National Park Service found no danger of contamination.

An NPS scientist said in an internal email obtained by the committee that the analysis was purposely confusing to create an appearance of harm.

“The DEIS (draft environmental impact statement) goes to great lengths in an attempt to establish impacts to water resources from uranium mining. It fails to do so, but instead creates enough confusion and obfuscation of hydrologic principles to create the illusion that there could be adverse impacts if uranium mining occurred,” wrote hydrologist Larry Martin in a March 2011 email to his supervisor, who said in a subsequent email Martin “basically has it right.”

“This is obviously a touchy case where the hard science doesn’t strongly support a policy position,” Bill Jackson wrote, and suggested the best way to “finesse” the data would be to suggest that NPS claim it needs to exercise caution until data show conclusively that mining won’t contaminate ground water.

DOI has not complied with the committee’s investigation into whether OSM intentionally manipulated its data to support the moratorium.

A spokesman for DOI declined to comment for this story.

Author: Michal Conger

Watchdog Staff Writer

The Washington Examiner

Email Author @michalconger

06-02-13 DBOC Float in Western Weekend Parade in Point Reyes, come join the Sea of Supporters!

Please come join Drakes Bay Oyster Farm this Sunday! June 2nd at noon with “NolaFornia Brass Band“!

Wear your Drakes Bay Oyster Company T-shirt (or your own blue shirt)

You will represent the

“Sea of Supporters”

Dancing in the street with farm supporters to the

“NolaFornia Brass Band”

with Tim Eschleman*.

Let the “Saints Go Marchin’ In”

Be proud of one of the best floats in the parade!

 

Bring your happy feet to join the Dixieland parade-within-a-parade!

DBOC has a beautiful float for this year’s Western Weekend Parade!

 

The parade starts at noon on Sunday June 2nd; we have secured the coveted last place in the parade!

We’ll all gather near at 7th & C Street in Point Reyes Station at noon

 

Planning to ride another beautiful float? No problem.

Walk back and join us at the end! Or, watch most of parade and join us when we get to you!

Can’t wait to see you!

DBOC float committee & the Lunny’s

[Please forward this email to DBOC supporters]

*

Performing credits include many recordings including the Nick-Lowe produced album, “Rush Hour” by The Moonlighters, various Commander Cody projects and a part in the 2010 Grammy-nominated CD, “Maria Muldaur’s Garden of Joy” as well as numerous le engagements with the likes of Etta James, Bo Diddley, Big Joe Turner, Johnnie Johnson, Jesse “Colin” Young, Frankie Ford, Earl King, Robert Ward, and New Orleans rock & roll sax innovator Lee Allen.

05-31-13 Marin Voice: Finding an oyster accord

If I had been Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar?

I would have granted the 10-year extension. I would have asked the scientists to continue their environmental studies, without pressure.

I would have made such critics as Corey Goodman a full part of this process. And I would have asked Congress to make it clear that, if given a clean bill of health, oyster farming could continue.

To my ear, it is not a discord in the special music of Point Reyes.

 

Marin Voice: Finding an oyster accord

By John Hart
Guest op-ed column

Posted:   05/31/2013 05:36:00 AM PDT
Click photo to enlarge

 

david sanger

AS THE AUTHOR of a recent book on Point Reyes, I find myself in a no-man’s-land between the fronts in the oyster wars. Here is what I think I know.

Point No. 1: Point Reyes is not a “wilderness park.” Unlike classic units of the National Park System, it was not created from federal land in far-off mountains. And the seashore is simply unique in incorporating — with the blessing of Congress — large areas of functioning farmland. The historic use of Drakes Estero to produce oysters is not different in kind from the historic use of adjacent pastures to produce milk and meat.

Point No. 2: Yet wilderness is a valid concept for parts of Point Reyes. The word “wilderness” evokes pristine horizons, but is also a strictly defined legal concept, a zone, within which there are no roads, no resource extraction, and no mechanized access. Even lands that were formerly settled can be placed in this zone, and come to look and feel very wild. About half of Point Reyes, mostly in the south, was zoned wilderness in 1976.

Point No. 3: There was a time when everyone, environmentalists very much included, wanted the oyster farm to continue indefinitely. They also wanted wilderness for Drakes Estero. They got around the seeming clash by endorsing oysters-in-wilderness as a “nonconforming use.” IJ letter writer Jim Linford has recently revived this position. It was the Park Service that balked, so a brand new label was invented for the estero and a few other areas: “potential wilderness.” The estero would be highly protected but without the wilderness label, so long as the oyster farm was there.

Point No. 4: Congress favored oysters, yet quietly wrote language implying that the farm should leave. These words are not in the law but in one of the committee reports accompanying it. They state, as a general principle, that “potential wilderness” should be converted to full wilderness as soon as possible.

Point No. 5: Congress later revised this instruction. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s rider of 2009 allowed the Secretary of the Interior to renew the oyster farm lease, on existing terms, for another ten years. Since the existing lease included a renewal clause, this might arguably have permitted a longer extension. As we all know, Salazar chose not to extend.

Point No. 6: The Park Service has tried to prove that the oyster farm was doing environmental damage, and it has failed. This is my opinion based on an intensive reading of the Environmental Impact Statement and other documents. Studies should continue. Right now the evidence is just not there.

Point No. 7: I doubt that the oyster farm is actually vital to the outstanding cleanliness of the estero. True, filter-feeding oysters are known to clean coastal waters, and some think they do so here. The Park Service argues that the natural flushing of daily tides here dwarfs any filtering effect, and I am (tentatively) convinced.

Point No. 8: I doubt also that a removal of the oyster farm would bring more pressure on the adjacent farmland. Some believe that, without oysters, pollution from cows would become evident in the estero, leading to a campaign to shut down agriculture nearby. But if tidal exchange is overwhelming, any such effect should be very minor.

If I had been Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar?

I would have granted the 10-year extension. I would have asked the scientists to continue their environmental studies, without pressure.

I would have made such critics as Corey Goodman a full part of this process. And I would have asked Congress to make it clear that, if given a clean bill of health, oyster farming could continue.

To my ear, it is not a discord in the special music of Point Reyes.

John Hart of San Rafael is an environmental writer and author of “An Island in Time: 50 Years of Point Reyes National Seashore.

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