08-05-16: NPT Anti-Ranch Activists Use Familiar Playbook

Op-Ed | Anti-Ranch Activists Use Familiar Playbook

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Tule elk at Point Reyes National Seashore/NPS

Editor’s note: The following column was written by Sarah Rolph, who is writing a book on how an oyster farm lost its lease at Point Reyes National Seashore in California.

To those of us who were close observers of the dis-information war conducted against Drakes Bay Oyster Farm by a clique of activists wearing the mantle of environmentalism, it is readily apparent that a dis-information war is being waged against the Point Reyes ranchers by a similar clique of activists wearing that same green disguise.

Before bringing suit against Point Reyes National Seashore to stop its Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan, the anti-ranch groups took advantage of that plan’s public scoping process to prepare the battlefield with a false narrative.

In addition to sending anti-ranch letters in their own names, these groups also spent time and money to create the false impression that their message is popular by using their membership mailing lists to orchestrate thousands of public comments that echo the group’s narrative. It’s the same playbook the anti-oyster-farm activists used:  alarm the group’s gullible if well-meaning membership with a false narrative, give them a form letter or talking points with which to swamp the public process, then issue a press release claiming the public has spoken.

The anti-oyster-farm activists spent big bucks, generating an astonishing 45,000 exact-match form letters calling for the removal of the oyster farm. These form letters made up about 90 percent of the total comments received; months later, when public interest had died down, these 45,000 comments would be quietly set aside from the total count as the NEPA law requires for exact-match form letters, yet the wildly inflated numbers were still quoted in the press and in court.

In the case of the Ranch CMP, the effort was more modest. Still, they pushed the number of comments to over 3,000. When you think about it, there’s very little chance that 3,000 people had something substantive to say about the scoping phase of a narrowly-focused planning effort in Point Reyes, California. The notion that these are all sincere public comments seems even more unlikely when one learns that 75 percent of these comments came from outside the state. And 13 percent were international! I guess you go to war with the mailing list you’ve got.

I’ve done several of these public-comment analyses now, and the responses are striking in their lack of originality. The campaigns usually encourage recipients to modify the example letter, but most people don’t. For the anti-ranch campaign, most of the letters were based on a set of professionally prepared talking points. It doesn’t take much detective work to identify them, because a lot of people sent in the list verbatim. (And it’s clear who sent the talking points around, because the same exact points can be traced to the letters signed by the anti-ranch groups.)

The list reads:

  • Private ranching operations do not benefit the public for which this National Seashore was created.
  • NPS needs to phase out the current leases and as they expire, take back and administer the approximately 28,000 acres of “pastoral zone,” on behalf of the American public who paid for it.
  • During the time of phasing out ranching leases, the NPS must ensure a peaceful co-existence between cattle and wild animals, including tule elk.
  • As the true historic grazer, the tule elk are native and belong in this area, not cattle.
  • Ranchers have an obligation to co-exist and be complimentary to the native wildlife, not the other way around. Thus, there is no need for “relocation” or any other “removal” of tule elk.
  • Should the need arise to reduce the tule elk population at some point, no lethal methods may be employed. Instead, cost-efficient and effective immunocontraception should be implemented as was done successfully between 1998 and 2000.
  • I ask that you discontinue private ranching operations and restore the coastal prairie to a large natural preserve in close vicinity to the San Francisco Bay area for the wildlife and people to enjoy.

Recipients of this list would never know that protecting the ranches was central to the creation of the National Seashore. Here’s what former Interior Secretary Salazar said about the ranches in his decision memo about Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which directed Point Reyes National Seashore officials to provide the ranches with 20-year permits:

“Long-term preservation of ranching was a central concern of local interests and members of Congress as they considered legislation to establish the Point Reyes National Seashore in the late 1950s and early 1960s… Congress…recognized ‘the value to the Government and the public of continuation of ranching activities, as presently practiced, in preserving the beauty of the area.’ … These working ranches are a vibrant and compatible part of Point Reyes National Seashore, and both now and in the future represent an important contribution to the Point Reyes’ superlative natural and cultural resources.”

Compare this reminder of the Seashore’s actual history to the fictive hyperbole offered by Western Watershed Project in its Ranch CMP scoping letter:

“Sadly, the Point Reyes peninsula and adjacent National Park Service lands have had a long history of livestock grazing to the detriment of the area’s natural and cultural resources. In the pastoral zone, the visiting public who the Park was established for, are not treated to a vibrant landscape as befits a National Park but instead are faced with a blasted landscape littered with rancher paraphernalia, cattle pats, and fences that restrict their access to the extent that parts of the Park do not even look like they are open to the public.”

This group either didn’t do its homework or purposely presented a false message. Point Reyes is a National Seashore, not a National Park. Its Pastoral Zone was created specifically to protect the ranches, to avoid harming the area’s agricultural economy and to increase local support.

Nor is it true that the Pastoral Zone resembles a “blasted landscape.” At their website, Western Watersheds takes this lie even farther, with claims such as: “The so-called ‘Pastoral Zone’ is a visual blight, harms water quality, and limits recreational uses of this national treasure.” These claims are untrue.

Recipients of the anti-ranch talking points would also never know that the elk in PRNS are a recently re-introduced species, that the Seashore has done a poor job managing its elk experiment, or that an elk management plan that has been in place since 1998 promised to protect the ranches from the elk.

Nor, of course, would they ever know that PRNS has broken that promise, and that the ranchers are suffering elk-related losses.

The ranchers fully understand that the public loves the elk and that the park is invested in the tourist attraction it has created. They are not asking for the elk to be removed from the Seashore. All they want is for the re-introduced elk to be managed properly, as the Seashore promised it would do when it began its experiment with the free-roaming elk in Limantour wilderness that have now (predictably) spread to the Pastoral Zone. All they are asking is that the elk be prevented from killing their cattle, destroying their fences, and grazing on the pastures and hay that the ranchers care for and pay for.

In their disregard for the truth, their use of a false narrative, and their abuse of the NEPA process, the tactics of the anti-ranch activists closely resemble those of the anti-oyster-farm activists.

But at least the oyster-farm adversaries didn’t pretend they weren’t working against the oyster farm.

The anti-ranch groups have been deceptive about their goal. At the same time they were sending out emails asking people to repeat talking points like, “I ask that you discontinue private ranching operations,” they were claiming not to be anti-ranch. As recently as last month, in a press release dated July 19, these groups (the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, and Resource Renewal Institute) said, “The lawsuit does not ask the court to stop ranching at the Seashore, nor will the court decide the future of ranching at Point Reyes.”

This is disingenuous in the extreme. These groups are clearly working to stop ranching at the Seashore. Indeed, eliminating ranching on public lands is the stated goal of the Western Watershed Project as an organization.

The Point Reyes ranchers have waited long enough. When Secretary Salazar promised 20-year permits in November 2012, the ranchers thought that settled the matter. Instead, they have been kept hanging all this time, with short-term authorizations that limit their ability to plan and operate their ranches.

When Point Reyes National Seashore decided it needed to create a new public process in the form of a Ranch CMP, the ranchers were disappointed, but they participated in that process in good faith. (The scoping letter from the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association, found here, is extremely informative, and includes a useful report on ranching at Point Reyes.)

Now the anti-ranch activists are suing to stop that process and start a new one, presumably one they feel they can better control. Will they be allowed to do so?

Their suit attempts to force an update of the Seashore’s General Management Plan; historian Laura Alice Watt’s forthcoming book The Paradox of Preservation shows that when a General Management Plan update was initiated back in the late 1990s, a similar campaign of anti-ranch letter-writing was launched by a number of environmental groups. This is a time-tested tactic used by special interests to shape the Seashore’s management into a particular direction.

Point Reyes National Seashore was made possible by its multi-generation ranching families. Through their motion to intervene in the lawsuit, these families are seeking a seat at the table.

Nobody has more incentive to protect the land than those whose livelihoods depend on it. An excerpt from Kevin Lunny’s court declaration (part of the motion to intervene) provides a good example of the careful stewardship of the ranchers:

“Our grazed California Coastal Prairie grasslands support a wide variety of native bird and animal species that I, other seashore ranchers, and many seashore visitors enjoy. Our family has built new fences, adjusted other fence lines, redirected vehicular access to minimize disturbance, protected wetland area, and controlled grazing to enhance habitat for endangered species on the Lunny Ranch, including endangered plant species that are benefited by livestock grazing, for example Sonoma alopecurus. Another example is that grazing helps ward off invasive plant species from taking over the range. Our family ranch has, and continues to provide, ecological benefits by maintaining the native nature of the grassland, thereby maintaining the pastoral scenery and wildlife habitat–one of the significant attributes that led to the establishment of the national seashore.”

The ranchers are the true stewards of this land and the leaders of this community, and have been for generations. The anti-ranch groups have every right to their own opinion, as the saying goes, but not to their own facts.

 Sarah Rolph is writing a book about the historic oyster farm in Point Reyes that was rescued by, and then taken from, Kevin Lunny, who is also a third-generation Point Reyes rancher.

08-01-16 Laura Watt’s Book available now: The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness & Working Landscapes at PRNS

Available now at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520277082/ref=kinw_rke_rti_1

 

The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National SeashorePaperback– November 29, 2016

by

Laura Alice Watt (Author)

 

Point Reyes National Seashore has a long history as a working landscape, with dairy and beef ranching, fishing, and oyster farming; yet, since 1962 it has also been managed as a National Seashore. The Paradox of Preservation chronicles how national ideals about what a park “ought to be” have developed over time and what happens when these ideals are implemented by the National Park Service (NPS) in its efforts to preserve places that are also lived-in landscapes. Using the conflict surrounding the closure of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, Laura Alice Watt examines how NPS management policies and processes for land use and protection do not always reflect the needs and values of local residents. Instead, the resulting landscapes produced by the NPS represent a series of compromises between use and protection—and between the area’s historic pastoral character and a newer vision of wilderness. A fascinating and deeply researched book, The Paradox of Preservation will appeal to those studying environmental history, conservation, public lands, and cultural landscape management, or to those looking to learn more about the history of this dynamic California coastal region.

5-21-16 Petition to Fire NPS Dir Jon Jarvis

Click on the link below to sign the petition

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-national-park-service-director-jon-jarvis-we-deserve-director-who-will-uphold-agencys-integrity 

We the people ask the federal government to Tell us what the federal government is doing about an issue:

Fire National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. We deserve a director who will uphold the agency’s integrity.

As the nation celebrates the National Park Service centennial, we deserve a director who will uphold the integrity of the agency’s mission and values. We urge you to remove Director Jonathan Jarvis.

Jarvis has failed to address numerous and pervasive sexual harassment and hostile work environment violations.

He lied to the Secretary of the Interior and intentionally bypassed the agency’s Ethics Office in order to write an unsanctioned book.

He has failed to discipline park service employees who deliberately omitted and misrepresented scientific data.

And he is pushing for policy changes that would give corporate donors unprecedented influence over park managers and National Park Service decisions.

We and the Park Service cannot wait. Jarvis must go.

Energy & Environment
Government & Regulatory Reform

5-23-16 NPT Congressman Asks for NPS Dir Jarvis’s Resignation

National Parks Traveler

UPDATED: Congressman Asks For National Park Service Director’s Resignation

 

By Kurt Repanshek on June 23rd, 2016

President Obama has been asked to fire National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis if the director does not resign/NPS

Editor’s note: This updates the story to mention that a petition drive calling for Director Jarvis’ removal has been started.

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, who has had to deal with his own ethical transgressions and a range of misconduct issues across the National Park System during this, the Park Service’s centennial year, should resign or be fired, a member of Congress has told President Obama.

Additionally, a petition has been launched on We The People, a website that reaches out to the White House, calling for the director’s termination.

Congressman Jody Hice, a Republican from Georgia, wrote the president last week asking that Director Jarvis be asked to resign. In the letter (attached) the congressman cited the director’s run-in with the Interior Department’s Ethics Office for not clearing a book he wrote for a Park Service contractor, the well-publicized case of long-running sexual harassment in Grand Canyon National Park, and another case of sexual misconduct at Canaveral National Seashore.

“Regrettably, in these cases — and others — the proper form of discipline was not pursued,” Rep. Hice wrote. “In the case of Director Jarvis’ book deal, the only punishment he faced was that he was stripped of his authority to implement the Park Service’s Ethic’s Program and is required to attend monthly ethics training courses for the remainder of his tenure. Others have either been transferred out of their positions or have been allowed to retire without facing the punishment that fits the misconduct.

“These are just some of the ethical failures and misconduct commited by employees of the National Park Service and the lack of discipline they have faced. Ultimately, Director Jarvis must be held accountable for these actions. Therefore Mr. President, I believe that the time has come for you to call on Director Jarvis to tender his resignation as the Director of the National Park Service. Should he choose not to resign, I believe that you must relieve him of his duties immediately.”

This past Tuesday a petition drive calling for Director Jarvis’ removal was launched on We The People. If 100,000 people sign the petition by July 21, the White House will respond to the request, according to the website. The petition, created by “A.B.,” states:

As the nation celebrates the National Park Service centennial, we deserve a director who will uphold the integrity of the agency’s mission and values. We urge you to remove Director Jonathan Jarvis.

Jarvis has failed to address numerous and pervasive sexual harassment and hostile work environment violations.

He lied to the Secretary of the Interior and intentionally bypassed the agency’s Ethics Office in order to write an unsanctioned book.

He has failed to discipline park service employees who deliberately omitted and misrepresented scientific data.

And he is pushing for policy changes that would give corporate donors unprecedented influence over park managers and National Park Service decisions.

We and the Park Service cannot wait. Jarvis must go.

5-23-16 E&E Daily: Lawmaker calls for Jarvis to resign

Another congressman this morning joined the small band of lawmakers questioning whether Jonathan Jarvis should continue to lead the National Park Service.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) announced during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing that he had sent President Obama a letter last week urging him to ask Jarvis to resign over the director’s decision to write an unauthorized book for an NPS concessionaire.

“Should he choose not to resign, I believe you must relieve him of his duties immediately,” the congressman wrote.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — on which Hice also sits — have previously argued that Jarvis may need to step aside (Greenwire, June 14).

In both the letter and today’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, Hice said he was upset both by Jarvis’ initial decision and his response to congressional oversight of that mistake, as well as instances of sexual harassment and other ethical violations at NPS exposed by Interior’s Office of Inspector General.

E&E Daily

INTERIOR:

Lawmaker calls for Jarvis to resign

Corbin Hiar, E&E reporter

Published: Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another congressman this morning joined the small band of lawmakers questioning whether Jonathan Jarvis should continue to lead the National Park Service.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) announced during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing that he had sent President Obama a letter last week urging him to ask Jarvis to resign over the director’s decision to write an unauthorized book for an NPS concessionaire.

“Should he choose not to resign, I believe you must relieve him of his duties immediately,” the congressman wrote.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — on which Hice also sits — have previously argued that Jarvis may need to step aside (Greenwire, June 14).

In both the letter and today’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, Hice said he was upset both by Jarvis’ initial decision and his response to congressional oversight of that mistake, as well as instances of sexual harassment and other ethical violations at NPS exposed by Interior’s Office of Inspector General.

“I’ve been shocked at the culture of corruption and misconduct that has been allowed to persist at the National Park Service,” he said.

He asked Mary Kendall, Interior’s deputy inspector general, about an apology email Jarvis sent to all NPS employees over the book deal (Greenwire, June 2).

“I thought it was terribly qualified and not as sincere as I would like to have seen,” said Kendall, whose office is working on at least one additional report of sexual harassment at NPS.

There was no one at the hearing to take the beleaguered director’s side. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) said the subcommittee had invited Interior to provide a high-level representative to testify; the agency sent Steve Guertin, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s deputy director of policy. And ranking member Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and the rest of the subcommittee’s Democratic members declined to attend after a daylong sit-in over gun control and a series of late-night votes.

The Republicans also lamented the lack of any representative from the Department of Justice. They had invited Attorney General Loretta Lynch to send someone to explain why DOJ has declined to prosecute 17 of the 29 criminal cases that the OIG has sent to the agency over the course of six months.

“Rather than send a witness, DOJ instead put off the committee for days, questioned committee staff as to whether this committee has the right to request their presence at the witness table and ultimately suggested that we read the ‘Principles of Federal Prosecution’ online instead,” said subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

“Let me make this clear: It is completely appropriate for this committee to request the presence of the Department of Justice at the witness table,” he added. “We have a valid interest in its involvement in these OIG investigations, and in learning, from DOJ itself, about its processes for handling OIG referrals. The Department of Justice’s refusal to be here today makes me wonder what their motivations for failing to prosecute these cases really are.”

The rest of the hearing focused on a series of high-profile cases of misconduct that the OIG has uncovered in recent months.

Guertin sharply criticized Stephen Barton, the service’s former chief of administration and information management for wildlife and sport fish restoration, who repeatedly failed to disclose that the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies paid him more than $375,000 over seven years for his services. FWS has sent Barton a collection notice to recoup more than $96,000 it paid on flights that allowed him to work both jobs (Greenwire, June 8).

Full committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) had questions for Kendall about the Interior Department’s former regulatory chief, who the OIG found had “used her position and influence” to hire a young man who appears to be a family friend over more qualified veteran applicants (E&E Daily, June 23).

Lawmakers also sought to assess the damage caused by a U.S. Geological Survey lab in Colorado that an OIG report found consistently manipulated lab results that are used by the Energy Resources Program and many other entities from at least 2008 to 2014, and possibly as far back as 1996.

Twitter: @corbinhiar Email: chiar@eenews.net

4-25-16 Marin Voice: Point Reyes lawsuit undermines Marin’s progressive traditions

Huey Johnson, and those who wish to ban ranching in Point Reyes National Seashore, are cherry-picking documents, rewriting history, gulling Marin, the courts and the public by redeploying the same tactics used against Lunny’s oyster farm: withhold and selectively edit not only laws and legislation but original documents they cite to justify their actions, then import and invent new data to suit.

Specifically, the plaintiffs’ case against Point Reyes’ ranchers cites one section of the 1916 legislation that established the National Park Service, supporting their contention, while ignoring its historic Marin County origins and intent, admitting only in legal fine print that a section immediately below permits the activity they wish to ban.

*     *     *     *     *

The filing does not cite Section 3: “… The Secretary of the Interior may, under such rules and regulations and on such terms as he may prescribe, grant the privilege to graze livestock within any national park, monument or reservation herein referred to when in his judgement such use is not detrimental to the primary purpose for which such park, monument, or reservation was created, except that such provisions shall not apply to the Yellowstone National Park.”

Marin Voice: Point Reyes park lawsuit undermines Marin’s progressive traditions

A cow crossing sign stands along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at the Historic Ranch C on the grounds of Point Reyes National Seashore in Point Reyes Station, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Environmentalists have sued the National Park Service, seeking to block the agency from granting 20-year leases to ranchers at the park until environmental studies are completed of the impact of the cattle on the park’s water, wildlife and public recreation.(Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)

By John Hulls

Posted: 04/25/16, 2:32 PM PDT | Updated: 7 hrs ago

Huey Johnson, and those who wish to ban ranching in Point Reyes National Seashore, are cherry-picking documents, rewriting history, gulling Marin, the courts and the public by redeploying the same tactics used against Lunny’s oyster farm: withhold and selectively edit not only laws and legislation but original documents they cite to justify their actions, then import and invent new data to suit.

Specifically, the plaintiffs’ case against Point Reyes’ ranchers cites one section of the 1916 legislation that established the National Park Service, supporting their contention, while ignoring its historic Marin County origins and intent, admitting only in legal fine print that a section immediately below permits the activity they wish to ban.

Their publicity quotes, from the National Park Service Act, Section 1, that the park service’s “… mission is to ‘conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.’”

The filing does not cite Section 3: “… The Secretary of the Interior may, under such rules and regulations and on such terms as he may prescribe, grant the privilege to graze livestock within any national park, monument or reservation herein referred to when in his judgement such use is not detrimental to the primary purpose for which such park, monument, or reservation was created, except that such provisions shall not apply to the Yellowstone National Park.”

The full language reflects its Marin history and intent, when in 1915, Marin Congressman Bill Kent sponsored the National Park Service Act.

President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law on Aug. 25, the following year.

In 1905 Kent had also saved an inaccessible redwood grove from being harvested for rebuilding after the San Francisco Earthquake. His family donated it to the United States.

President Theodore Roosevelt, using the power of the Antiquities Act, declared it a national monument, suggesting that the woods be named after him.

Kent demurred and recommended naming the grove after their mutual friend, guide to the president on his wilderness trip to Yosemite: John Muir.

The lawsuit is clever, clearly a legal, PR and fund-raising tool. The litigants’ website and press releases create the false image of environmentalists stopping a reckless park service from bowing to the financial benefits of “welfare ranchers” trashing the environment … so send money.

They cite discredited documents, including the park service’s economic study, unsubstantiated references to a huge industrial footprint and allegations of water pollution from cattle, claiming that “everyone knows” grazing is bad, ignoring the benefits of sustainable practices.

Videos of West Marin on the Marin Agricultural Land Trust website reveal the falsity of the allegations and show how modern ranching sustains and preserves our beloved landscapes.

Johnson, the Center for Biodiversity and Western Waterways are implacably opposed to grazing. After the closing of the oyster farm, they see an opportunity to advance their ideology using similar tactics.

As ideologues, looking to retrieve a past that never was, they want to exclude those who disagree with them.

The original 1916 Act refutes their lawsuit’s claims.

Note Marin’s 100-year progressive traditions: Bill Kent’s legislation, Caroline Livermore and friends who in the 1930s hired a planner to anticipate the impact of the newly opened Golden Gate Bridge, and state Sen. Peter Behr’s 1969 gathering of disparate elements, including the ranchers, into the Save Our Seashore campaign that in 1972 finally saved Point Reyes National Seashore.

To support ideological obsession, click the “donate” button and await the next lawsuit.

Or continue Marin’s environmental tradition of education, inclusion and planning for a practical future that benefits everyone.

An easy choice.

John Hulls, a former West Marin resident, is an environmental researcher and scientific coordinator who has been involved in local issues.

2006 First False claim published by NPS, staff scientist Dr. Sarah Allen, lead author

2006:  First false claim published by NPS. Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) staff scientist Dr. Sarah Allen, lead author of PRNS publication “Drakes Estero, A Sheltered Wilderness Estuary” reports oyster farm operations are harming the ecology of the estero and begins a campaign to shut down the historic operation. The agency has no evidence for these allegations.

The fraudulent Sheltered Wilderness report appears to have been a response to the May 18, 2006 Point Reyes Light article Drakes Bay Oyster Farm Has Little Impact On Estero. The evidence for this is reported by Dave Mitchell in this must-read story about the early history of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm tragedy. (Mitchell is former editor and publisher of the Point Reyes Light, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for Mitchell’s story on the Synanon cult. We are grateful that his important early work about NPS mistreatment of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is still available online.)

For more, go to:

http://savedrakesbay.com/core/history-of-false-science-about-dboc/

4-26-16 savedrakesbay.com Errors, Omissions, and Distortions in “The Oyster War” book by Summer Brennan

http://savedrakesbay.com/core/oyster-war-list-of-errors-and-omissions/

Oyster War Error List

 

Page 1                  “a reporter covering the war between oysters and wilderness”

So far the Drakes Bay Oyster controversy has extended to 120 months. Brennan claims to have direct knowledge of the situation based on the 5 months she spent in West Marin in 2012, working for the Point Reyes Light. During her summer at the Light, Brennan wrote over 40 features and obituaries. Only 5 stories were about Drakes Bay Oyster Company. During this same period, the Light published 4 stories about DBOC bylined “Light Staff.” Brennan was not covering the story in the sense she implies. If it had been her beat, or a serious part of her job, one would expect her to have visited the oyster farm at least once during her summer in West Marin. She did not, even after Kevin expressly invited her in an email in July 2012.

Page 9                  Brennan claims that an oyster worker given the pseudonym “Oscar” was fired after taking her for a ride in an oyster boat. Nobody was fired. Hugo, the worker who took Brennan out on the boat, quit his job at the oyster farm and went to work for Dave Evans in West Marin. He now lives in Reno, not in Mexico still looking for work as reported at the end of the book. One phone call would have yielded this information. Instead, Brennan wove a tale around an assumption. The whole story of the boat tour is highly fictionalized. According to Hugo, in the account he gave to the farm managers at the time, Brennan told him she was authorized to accompany him, when she plainly was not.

Page 18                Drakes Bay Oysters were “hearty and often quite large, with an overpowering creaminess.” They came in all sizes and were usually described as very briny. See Rowan Jacobsen.

Page 18                “Chefs say they are better cooked than raw.” Highly unlikely. Who supposedly said this?

Page 52                Here and in many other places, Brennan falsely claims that there were never any native oysters in the area. NPS used a similar argument for similar reasons—when the NAS panel pointed out that one benefit of oyster farming overlooked by the park service is that the farmed oysters provided ecological services, which made up for the native oysters that would have been there had they not been overharvested roughly 100 years ago, NPS pushed back with the assertion that the historical numbers of native oysters were lower than had been assumed. Brennan is the first to claim there were never ANY native oysters, and the claim is absurd.

Page 65               Fred Smith seems to be a key source. He is presented as an important person in the story, with a detailed, sympathetic portrayal. Brennan fails to disclose that she is friends with him. She also fails to report the one significant interaction Smith had with the oyster farm:  sending a letter to the water board about alleged pollution at the oyster farm–false charges that were immediately dismissed. Fred Smith left EAC in 2010, four years before the shutdown of the farm. Yet he is presented as if he is the key EAC figure; the work of Amy Trainer, who was in fact the key anti-oyster-farm operative at EAC for the crucial years of 2010 – 2014, is barely mentioned.

Page 79                This passage uses Fred Smith’s thoughts from several years ago to imply that the ranches are ecologically unsound, and that they don’t belong in a national park unit.

“But as he drove through the Point Reyes National Seashore’s pastoral zone, he was shocked by what he saw. Farms! Industry! Inside a federally protected natural area! Many of the Seashore ranches seemed to be in poor ecological condition, and in a national park! “Why is the park allowing this?” he thought. If things here were handled the way they were in other national parks, Fred thought, if some of the Point Reyes ranches didn’t clean up their act, it was only a matter of time before they would have to go.”

No facts are provided to substantiate this insinuation that the ranches need to be cleaned up.

Page 95                Brennan writes that Ralph Mihan “surveyed the situation” and his “opinion was guided by the Wilderness Act.” Unless Brennan interviewed him, and there is no indication that she did, we don’t know what Mihan did, we only know what the letter says. The letter is suspicious because it is differs from everything else in the public record. Mihan was a field solicitor, a local NPS lawyer, someone Don would have easy access to. Do field solicitors make policy? Do they even discover policy, normally? Here, as in every other case we studied, Brennan takes the NPS narrative at face value; that’s an odd pattern for a so-called journalist.

Page 120              Brennan writes that Drakes Estero was labeled potential wilderness “to be sorted out later.” That’s not what the legislative history shows. Brennan seems to have decided “potential wilderness” is the same as “wilderness.” That’s not the case.

Page 121-126       Brennan conflates John Burton and Phillip Burton into one person. It is former Congressman John Burton who wrote the Point Reyes Wilderness act. His brother, former Representative Phillip Burton, was involved in the GGNRA. (Brennan never refers to John Burton, and on page 126 refers to the wrong Burton when she writes “The idea of ‘potential wilderness’ was first used by Congress in 1976, the year that the Point Reyes Wilderness Act was passed. It was very much in Burton’s style…”) Phillip Burton died in 1983. John Burton is alive and is the current chair of the California Democratic Party.

Page 128, 129      The passage about Congressman McCloskey is surprisingly disrespectful and implies that he is senile. He is not.

Brennan distorts Congressman McCloskey’s involvement in a way that makes it sound like he supported the oyster farm only as an individual, and solely out of personal preference. She writes that Congressman McCloskey “has come out and said that the intention was always to have the oyster farm stay in operation. He’s written letters on the farm’s behalf…” and says that he “uses the presence of the ranches to support the notion” that the oyster farm was meant to say. This is not a “notion,” it is a fact of legislative history.

Congressman McCloskey spelled this out in a letter to then-Secretary Salazar, which was co-authored with former Congressman John Burton and former Assemblyman Bill Bagley. Representative Burton was the lead author of the 1976 Point Reyes Wilderness Act. Bill Bagley wrote the 1965 bill that transferred ownership of waters surrounding Point Reyes to the National Park Service. All three of these men remembered that the oyster farm was expected to stay at the time the Seashore was formed, but they did not rely on memory, but also researched the issue for ten weeks. As was reported in the Point Reyes Light in August 2011, the letter “cites numerous archival documents and testimonies—including statements by former National Park Service Director Conrad Wirth, the Sierra Club and former Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife Nathaniel Reed—that the authors contend collectively prove the legal precedent for the continuation of oystering in Drakes Estero.”

This letter was widely reported in the media because of its importance. Brennan fails to mention it. The letter is not even included in her extensive bibliography.

Page 163              Brennan writes that Kevin Lunny was shown the Mihan letter before the sale was final. This is false, and echoes the NPS/EAC false narrative. The truth is that the Mihan letter was not presented to the Lunnys until after they had turned around the oyster farm. Even the government has acknowledged that the Mihan letter was not provided to the Lunnys until after the purchase and cleanup. Brennan was informed of this by Peter Prows, a member of the Lunny legal team. He told her via email on February 7, 2015 (in response to her mass email to supporters, which she claims nobody responded to):

“The original 1972 contains a renewal clause that says it may be renewed by special use permit for so long as the oyster farm had a valid state water bottom lease — the term is substantially similar to the renewal clause that the other ranchers have been living under for decades. Let me know if you need a copy of the RUO

The Lunnys have told their version of the events leading up to the oyster farm purchase many times, including Don Neubacher’s encouragement. Their most recent thing was an opinion piece in the Light from this summer, Keep On Shucking.

Salazar’s memorandum makes clear that the Lunnys weren’t told the lease wouldn’t be renewed until after they bought the farm. He acknowledges they bought the farm in 2004, and says they weren’t told that the renewal clause wouldn’t be exercised until 2005.

There’s lots more out there on this, but frankly it’s kind of irrelevant once Congress passed Section 124 specifically to override NPS’s (incorrect) position that the lease couldn’t be renewed. Yet in denying the lease renewal, Salazar thumbed his nose at Congress and said, despite this new law authoring him to renew the lease, it would still be against the law to renew the lease. That always was, and still remains, nonsense.”

Pages 165-166     “A small number of pre-historic Olympia oyster shells were found inside shell middens near the estero, i.e. the Olympias, but carbon dating has revealed that those shells varied in age between 1,200 and 2,200 years old—more on that later. These scant shell samples could have come from the estero as living oysters, perhaps during a time when conditions were different, or the shells themselves could have been traded from tribes living further north, where the native oysters were known to be abundant.”

Brennan misunderstood (or is misrepresenting) the purpose of the study. The Sonoma State researchers sampled the bottom of the middens, carbon-dating the oldest oysters, because their purpose was to determine the age of the middens. It was not an oyster study. The middens are loaded with oyster shells. They are not “scant.”

The bottom line: native oysters have been in Drakes Estero going back several thousand years.

Page 169              Brennan repeats NPS Superintendent Don Neubacher’s slander that Kevin “is not good with money” without any further comment, much less refutation, and doesn’t supply any context.

Page 170              Brennan refers to a version of the Elliot-Fisk paper that says the tunicate D. vex was “likely introduced through oyster farming.” Brennan lets this stand even though it is not true. She later points out correctly that the tunicate needs a substrate to grow, and that oysters supply one, but doesn’t point out that the tunicate is a nuisance everywhere, or that the tunicate also clings to rocks, ropes or any other hard surface. The tunicate is believed to move around the world in ballast water and has invaded the temperate regions of the oceans – globally. The tunicate was NOT “introduced” by the farm.

Page 171              Concerning the invasive tunicate, the author writes: “over the years their presence only increased.” As Dr. Goodman has pointed out in court filings based on the scientific literature, there is no evidence to suggest that the tunicate has increased over the past decade.

Page 177              Brennan quotes from Sarah Allen’s April 26, 2007 Trip Report (without giving the date or title) as if it were fact: “She also wrote about the presence of a white boat with two people in it, poling through an eelgrass bed. When the boat went by a group of seals, all but one of the animals flushed into the water.” Brennan fails to mention that Dr. Goodman has presented evidence that this report was fabricated. The evidence clearly shows that the boat in Allen’s description uses a path the oyster boats never took (as documented in the 300,000+ NPS secret camera photos, a DBOC boat never once took this route), that the engine on the oyster boat was broken on this date, that the area where the boat operators were allegedly poling through eelgrass is actually deep water where propeller fouling is impossible, and that at the time of the supposed sighting the workers had long since clocked out (time and date stamped) and gone home.

Page 178              The author fails to report the false claims made by Sarah Allen and Don Neubacher in May 2007 at a meeting of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. That meeting is described in the book, and Brennan quotes Sarah Allen as saying: “The damage of the commercial oyster operations on Drakes Estero is more easily documented, because the park service has over twenty-five years of continuous monitoring data from Drakes Estero.” The Park Service didn’t actually have 25 years of data; Brennan provides a rationalization — in Brennan’s view, it was good enough that Sarah Allen had been studying seals for that long. Brennan then discusses a different aspect of the dispute.

In fact, the most important statement by Sarah Allen at that 2007 meeting was this: “Over the past few weeks we have documented oyster operations disturbing mothers with pups and oyster bags left on sandbars where seals would normally give birth and nurse their pups. The harm is resulting in abandonment of one area where more than 250 seals, including 100 pups 2 years ago occurred in that spot, this year chronic disturbance and placement of bags on the nursery area has caused an 80% reduction in the seals dropping to around 35 this last Saturday. I was out there on Saturday.”

Those charges were false, and they have been proven to be false. Evidence obtained via FOIA shows that even Sarah Allen did not think she had any evidence for those claims. The false charges made their way to NOAA, which would have been very concerned had the claims been true; when NOAA asked Allen for the evidence, she wrote back explaining it did not exist. Allen’s false statement, as well as others, was later retracted by the Park Service. All this is a matter of public record. None of it is reported by Brennan.

Page 181              Feinstein suddenly appears: “but then Senator Feinstein got involved” and immediately she “called a private meeting in Olema” ; Brennan writes that “afterwards, at her request, the Sheltered Wilderness report was taken off the NPS website and replaced with an acknowledgement of errors.”

This passage is an enormous oversimplification that omits the key facts. The Marin County Board of Supervisors formally voted to ask Senator Feinstein to intervene because of serious malfeasance on the part of the NPS. Before deciding to get involved, she asked her staff to look into the matter. Following months of research and investigation, Senator Feinstein’s office found that the park service was lying about the science, the law, and the history. The Senator did not get involved for political reasons, as the book implies.

Page 181              Brennan neglects to mention that a few weeks after the July 21, 2007 Olema meeting (the meeting requested by Senator Feinstein), Jarvis did give Goodman the Park harbor seal database (as the Senator had requested), and his analysis showed that there was indeed an 80% decline, precisely as Gordon Bennett, EAC, and NPS/Don/Sarah had described it numerically, but that this decline occurred at Sandbar A, far away from the oyster lease and oyster boats. There were no oyster bags at all. The likely cause, as shown in the NPS’ own harbor seal monitoring database, was a sudden connection of the sandbar to the mainland, and the resulting disturbance by both predators and park visitors. Allen retracted the 80% claim (using an unconvincing excuse) at the MMC meeting in February 2010.

Page 182              The discussion on this page makes it sound as if Kevin signed the agreement with the surrender clause. He did not. The book omits the key fact that Senator Feinstein and Mary Bomar, then NPS Director, forced Jarvis to remove that surrender clause, and that the removal of that clause is the reason Kevin signed the agreement.

Page 184              Brennan writes of the National Academy of committee tasked to evaluate the scientific data about oyster farming in Drakes Estero: “The committee, dubbed the Committee on Best Practices for Shellfish Mariculture and the Effects of Commercial Activities in Drakes Estero, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, California, included scientists from academic institutions in Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Southern California, Ireland and Scotland. The committee was to be overseen by a number of professionals, including scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, but also representatives from Boeing and Exxon Mobil.”

This is apparently a reference to two members of the Ocean Studies Board (OSB), JAY S. PEARLMAN, The Boeing Company (ret.), Port Angeles, Washington and MARY (MISSY) H. FEELEY, ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, Texas. The makeup of OSB is not relevant to the study. These board members did not “oversee” the project. That notion seems to have been introduced to support the author’s ideological bias against industry and to support the NPS/EAC/Sierra Club attack on the NAS. Both Brennan and these activists have worked hard to obfuscate the fact that the 11 marine ecologists assembled by the NAS, after 15 months of investigation, found no environmental problem with continuing the oyster farming in Drakes Estero.

Page 188              Brennan writes that people didn’t see why the oyster farm “couldn’t be lumped in with” the Pastoral Zone. Here again, she ignores the well-documented legislative history; it was “lumped in” originally. There is clear evidence of this, yet Brennan dismisses the argument without even presenting it.

Page 193              Brennan writes that Kevin told the media he knew the park did not plan to renew the permit. While there is one published interview that seems to quote Kevin saying this (in Marin Magazine, mentioned elsewhere in the book), in most interviews he made it clear that he was first given the Park’s blessing to purchase the farm, then he cleaned it up, and only then did Superintendent Neubacher begin to claim that “his hands were tied” and the farm’s permit could not be renewed. (This happened at roughly the same time the character assassination campaign began.) Because there is no written record of these early discussions, Brennan reached out to longtime Lunny supporter Sarah Rolph to learn whether Kevin had ever been told he might be able to keep the farm past 2012. Sarah made a good-faith effort to explain exactly what Kevin did and didn’t think, know, and believe in these early years, yet Brennan seems to have purposely disregarded it, and in the book, has misrepresented what Rolph said. See Rolph’s letter to Brennan for details.

Page 194              Brennan quotes Kevin as saying “It wasn’t a proposal, it was a bankruptcy proposal.” This out-of-context quote suggests that Kevin’s primary concern was financial. That is not the case. The real issue is that it was a sham offer. Had the author interviewed Senator Feinstein she might have learned that the Senator was extremely angry about having been lied to about this purported offer of a Tomales Bay opportunity that turned out not to exist.

Page 194              Brennan writes that “the park’s wildlife cameras show that (what appeared to be) one of the DBOC boats was indeed present in the estuary when the company’s records indicated that it wasn’t. The workers did not always follow the rules.” These are serious charges – and both false — yet the book provides no evidence for them. The so-called wildlife cameras that Brennan is referring to here were NPS secret surveillance cameras trained on the oyster beds that were monitoring oyster boats and oyster workers. The NPS did make the claim that the photo Brennan refers to showed what “appeared to be” a DBOC boat. This accusation was in an NPS document entitled “Clarification of Law and Policy”. When examined, the photo captured two kayaks, not an oyster boat. Here, again, Brennan repeats a false claim that the public record shows is false.

Page 194              Brennan writes that “Details were starting to warp and change.” The implication seems to be that the oyster farm supporters were shading the truth. Yet the examples given don’t support this implication at all. Historians tell us that commercial oyster farming in Drakes Estero began the 1930s, which is roughly eight decades ago. Some reports used the more flowery “almost 100 years” or “almost a century,” sometimes to indicate that informal farming is believed to have taken place before the commercial oyster farms. This is a normal level of inaccuracy, not an attempt to deceive. Similarly, the varied reports of 30 to 60 percent of California oysters are a function of whether one is referring to oysters consumed or oysters grown, and depends on the year or years being referenced. The 30 to 60 percent range is entirely accurate.

Page 195              Brennan writes, “In May, the NAS report came out in earnest. It found that Sheltered Wilderness had in some instances selectively presented, over interpreted, or misrepresented available scientific information on DBOC operations by exaggerating the negative and overlooking potentially beneficial side effects.” Brennan then goes on to say “However, other than the fact that Sarah Allen has misreported Roberto Anima’s findings, the main argument made by the NAS was itself fatally flawed.”

To make her case that the Academy was wrong, Brennan claims to refute the Academy’s argument that farmed oysters replace the ecosystem services once provided by native oysters, using her novel theory that there never were any native oysters. Even if that were true, it would be beside the point, because the replacement of ecosystem services is not the report’s “main argument” (an odd way of putting it; scientists report findings, they don’t make arguments).

The actual key finding of the Academy’s report is that there is no evidence of any substantive negative environmental impact from oyster farming. Brennan, astonishingly, omits this.

Page 197              “In July 2009 Dianne Feinstein authored a rider” – no context is provided for this. The implication is that it was political favoritism, which is most definitely not the case. What Brennan fails to report is that NPS had argued (falsely) that it did not have the authority to extend to permit, so the Senator gave them that authority.

Page 198              Brennan writes “supporters of the oyster farm failed to make a distinction between the pastoral zone, which did not have any kind of wilderness designation, and the estuary, which did. Either you respected the wilderness designation of Drakes Estero, or you didn’t.” Drakes Estero was designated “potential wilderness.” Brennan seems to purposely conflate “potential wilderness” with “wilderness” – yet there is a significant distinction. Professor Laura Watt, whose academic thesis is on the management of Point Reyes National Seashore, has studied this issue and written extensively about it. Brennan completely ignores Laura Watt’s work. Brennan also omits the legislative history that supports the continuation of the pre-existing use of oyster farming in Drakes Estero within wilderness.

Page 198              “Meanwhile, Drakes Bay Oyster Company was violating the Coastal Act by refusing to sign necessary permits, racking up fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.” This is highly misleading.

The Coastal Commission and the NPS were working very closely together. At first, all seemed to support the Lunny involvement at the oyster farm. Later, the Coastal Commission appeared to team up with NPS against the Lunnys. The Coastal Commission’s harassment of the Lunnys led to a lawsuit, which the Lunnys won. The Commission’s inappropriate enforcement orders (based on many of the inaccurate NPS assertions) were overturned and the Commission was found guilty of abuse of power.

Page 228              “As soon as a rider was passed NPS was tasked with producing an EIS with which to help Ken Salazar make his verdict.” Tasked by whom? This is a key point. Many knowledgeable observers believe NPS did not need to produce an EIS in order to provide the new permit. Who decided to invoke NEPA? Why did Brennan bury that question, instead of raising it?

Page 229              The book’s discussion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement fails to substantively discuss the controversy over this document, which raged during the summer of 2012 when Brennan was in West Marin. The book presents no information about the serious flaws in the document, the proven falsehoods that are the subject of formal misconduct complaints, the process irregularities, the fact that it is not actually a legally valid document, or any of the other controversial issues that consumed West Marin when Brennan was in town writing local interest stories.

The draft EIS was so badly flawed that Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences to review it, and the academy provided serious criticism of the document, including the lack of a proper baseline. NEPA guidelines dictate that one baseline be used to compare the proposed actions. Remarkably, this EIS uses TWO baselines. This EIS improperly used the proposed (unknown) future removal of the farm as one of its baselines and the actual current condition and activity as the second (correct) baseline. The NPS selectively switched baselines to make the continuation of the same shellfish growing activity appear to have new impacts. The NPS refused to correct this abuse of NEPA in the final draft of the EIS that was provided to Secretary Salazar.

It is entirely inappropriate to make two different sets of comparisons, as the second NAS report spells out. That second NAS review is not even mentioned in Brennan’s book, much less discussed, although she wrote a news story about it when she was at the Light.

Brennan also fails to mention the explosive fact that EIS contains falsified scientific data. This was reported in a Newsweek article in January 2015, when Brennan was still gathering information for the book. The Newsweek story is especially notable because the scientist whose data was falsified, Brent Stewart, went on the record about the data falsification, which is certainly scientific misconduct. Yet Brennan ignores all this and sketches a tale in which the only scientific misconduct here is in Corey Goodman’s imagination.

Page 232              Brennan writes that the MMC panel members “did not agree on everything.” This is very misleading. One thing the scientists did agree on is that there is no reason to be concerned about the seal population in Drakes Estero, since it is nearing its carrying capacity.  Again, Brennan echoes the NPS/EAC criticism of the experts charged with the evaluation of environmental consequences of the oyster farm, experts who found no reason to stop oystering in Drakes Estero, a fact Brennan seems to have worked hard to omit.

Page 233              Brennan writes that “Ragen would eventually respond to Corey with a letter of his own.” Implies that this is the only time Ragen responded to Dr. Goodman. In fact there was a lot of back-and-forth between Goodman and Ragen during the time of the MMC work. Six months later, Ragen wrote this letter. It was almost certainly created specifically to make Goodman look bad to the NAS panel at Irvine; Neal Desai, National Parks and Conservation Assn., sent it to the panel at the last minute.. Brennan wrote a story about this while she was at the Light; her story reads like a hit piece on Goodman—it’s not clear whether she intended this, or was misled, but it is clear that she never looked into it again, and relied on her 2012 understanding of the situation when she wrote the book, rather than checking again with Goodman. She never interviewed Goodman for the book. Ragen was discredited over this and left the MMC; a complaint has been filed against him. All of this context is missing from the book.

Page 233              Dead baby seals are mentioned and described but the reader is given no idea how they fit in to the story, if indeed they do.

Page 235              Brennan writes, “After all, it was still unknown what made seals choose or abandon particular areas, and how deeply or not they could be affected by a ‘disturbance’.” This is incorrect. In fact, both marine mammal scientists and oyster farmers know quite a lot about this.

Page 235              Brennan writes that there were “ten instances of disturbance of seals by oyster boats in nine years.” This is not true, and it is shocking that it would be presented without a source or citation. This a very odd way for a so-called journalist to handle a central aspect of the dispute.

Page 235              Appendix F of the MMC report is said to have “confusing and conflicting information.” There is nothing confusing about the information in Appendix F, nor is the information there conflicting. It does conflict with the implication in the executive summary that there is some reason to believe the Becker paper showed a real correlation, but it’s that implication that’s incorrect, not the material in Appendix F.

Appendix F contains the verbatim reports of the marine mammal scientists who served on the MMC panel. Every single one of these reports says that the seals are obviously fine – the seal population in Drakes Estero is so large that the place is reaching its carrying capacity. The scientists also point out that the Becker paper wasn’t designed to find what it says it found, and that Harbor seals are well known to habituate to human activity.

Page 243              Brennan writes that Don’s letter to the Bank of Oakland was about a loan to “cover the cost of bringing things up to code.” Don’s letter to the bank clearly states that this was for “new facilities.” What is Brennan imagining the money was going to be used for, if not the new facilities?

The book presents a convoluted argument that the new processing plant and visitor center was never expected to be built. It is difficult to understand from the passage what is actually being argued here. She seems to be saying that Tom Johnson had these plans drawn up in order to buy time. She quotes from the Environmental Assessment conducted for the project in a way that emphasizes that the project was necessary to bring things up to code, but implies that this means something other than what the EA was very obviously about, the construction of a new visitor center and processing plant. The bank loan papers described the new facilities as approved by NPS in the EA. Brennan rests her case with a strawman argument: “The proposed renovations were not part of a grand, park-generated plan to build a gleaming new oyster-based visitor center.” Nobody ever said they were. That doesn’t mean the Seashore wouldn’t have gone along with the plan, after having issued a FONSI, if someone had come up with the money. It seems much more straightforward to infer they would have. And if they didn’t support the plan, it hardly seems likely that Don would have written the support letter to the bank for the new facilities. Brennan doesn’t even mention the FONSI, or the substance of the EA. The whole story is told so as to support her hypothesis that the plans were created just for show. She makes no attempt to include all relevant facts, nor did she interview the relevant people.

Page 251              Brennan says she agrees with the “dangerous precedent” argument and says the choice to keep the oyster farm would be “reversing wilderness designation.” This argument is only possible because she conflates “wilderness” with “potential wilderness.” Brennan ignores the many clear explanations about how the “potential” designation was actually used (the point was to protect the working landscapes, including the historic oyster farm). Brennan ignores the fact that the oyster farm pre-existed the 1964 wilderness act that blocks new development within wilderness. It does not require the dismantling of uses that pre-exist the act. Furthermore, this concept was specifically discussed by congress during the Pt. Reyes wilderness act where the authors of the bill agreed that the oyster farm could continue in wilderness because it was pre-existing. What precedent would continuing the oyster farm create?

Page 251              Brennan noticed that the Frost report is rather harsh about the “informant” and implies this is evidence that Goodman did something wrong. Actually it’s evidence that the report was heavily edited by Neubacher and/or Jarvis—this has been documented.

Page 252              Brennan writes, “It seemed that the outrage over the state of research at the National Park Service had eclipsed the conversation about environmental policy, and supporters of the oyster farm had changed the conversation completely.” This is highly misleading. The supporters never changed anything, they always pointed out that NPS lied about science, law, and history. It’s the park service that kept changing back and forth between legal arguments and science arguments (“arguments” is putting it very kindly).

Supporters were not outraged over “the state of research at the National Park Service.” Supporters are outraged that park service officials at Point Reyes National Seashore knowingly leveled false charges against the oyster farm, purposely creating a false narrative with which to deceive the public and elected officials, and misrepresenting scientific studies—their own and those of others. Brennan doesn’t present any information that would allow the reader to understand this position. Instead she implies that the Park Service did nothing wrong and that the supporters made everything up.

Page 258              Brennan mocks Goodman’s Dance Palace presentation and misrepresents it by presenting a tiny sliver of his remarks. The passage is written in a way that implies Goodman doesn’t care about red-legged frogs, when his point was that it was absurd for the NPS to discuss potential danger to red-legged frogs due to the continuation of oyster farming given that there are no red-legged frogs anywhere near the oyster farm.

Page 258              Brennan downplays the substitution of jet-ski data for actual oyster-farm data, implies it’s the only error, brushes off EIS falsehoods as “much to critique,” and apparently did not even consider the possibility that that those falsehoods were purposeful. There were months of public debate about these issues, and significant criticism, yet Brennan chooses not to present those facts.

Page 259              Brennan writes, “In November, Salazar flew out to California. He visited Point Reyes and Drakes Estero, spoke with the Lunnys and with their cattle ranching neighbors.”

This is highly misleading. Salazar met with the Lunnys at the oyster farm and anyone on the pro-oyster side including Steve Kinsey, scientists, etc., was required to be there for that meeting and no other and it all had to be jammed into 30 minutes. Then Salazar was escorted to a meeting at the Red Barn, insultingly called a “stakeholders meeting,” that included only the anti-oyster-farm activists. Phyllis Faber tried to attend that meeting and was denied entry.

Page 261              Brennan implies that the “first domino theory” on eliminating the ranches is just paranoia and not based on anything. Ignores that Phyllis Faber went on the record in the Light about Don having told her this was the plan. Brennan doesn’t reference the Light story and didn’t talk to Phyllis.

Page 273              Brennan discusses the Keystone Pipeline bill to which Vitter added DBOC protection, but fails to mention that Vitter is from Louisiana, a major shellfish-growing state. She apparently doesn’t realize the false science generated by the government is being used against shellfish growers.

Page 283              Brennan writes, “I wrote to Kevin repeatedly, asking him if I had gotten it wrong.”

Brennan never asked Kevin, or anyone associated with DBOC, to fact-check a single fact, story, or representation.

Brennan claims that Kevin refused to be interviewed, and that she contacted him repeatedly. In fact, she contacted Kevin only twice about the book. On July 9, 2013, Brennan informed Kevin via email that she planned to write a book about the oyster farm but did not yet have a contract. She said she was coming to town and wanted to speak with Kevin, but she never arranged an interview or tour. Instead, she showed up near the workday’s end, and bluffed her way onto an unauthorized boat trip.

The second and last contact was on January 14, 2015. At Brennan’s request, on Kevin’s behalf, DBOC media advisor Sarah Rolph had an email discussion with Brennan to try to work out interview details. Sarah offered Brennan an in-person interview, but Brennan refused. Instead, Brennan insisted on a Skype interview, and said she would send questions in advance. Even a Skype interview never occurred. Brennan’s questions were never submitted.

In July 2012 Kevin invited Brennan via email to visit the farm and get a private tour of both the shore operations and the growing areas. Brennan never took Lunny up on the invitation. During the five months that she lived in Point Reyes, Brennan apparently never once dropped by the oyster farm. She never took the tour, nor did she interview the farm manager or any of the oyster workers. She never met Kevin Lunny; when she interviewed him for the Point Reyes Light she chose to use phone and email.

Page 283              Brennan writes that she wrote to the supporters about the arguments for the farm and “nobody was able to come up with anything.” In fact, DBOC legal advisor Peter Prows did respond, and Sarah Rolph had already responded to a similar request. In both cases the information provided was ignored or misused.

Page 283              When asked by Brennan about Don Neubacher’s early conversations with Kevin Lunny, Sarah Rolph spent the better part of a week discussing this with Brennan via email. It’s a crucial part of the false narrative, and Rolph was hoping Brennan was sincere in wanting to get it right. Rolph told Brennan over and over again that there had been months of discussion, as described in Rolph’s story about this in the Russian River Times. Rolph said to Brennan:

“Kevin knew the permit expired in 2012, because he did his homework, and he knew that Don was worried about all the challenges because he had watched this all happen. Kevin knew that Don was considering a future non-renewal, because Don was open about that. There were months of discussion between Don and Kevin about the various challenges, the fact that the Coastal Commission was on the warpath, the potential for non-renewal, etc. Kevin made the very natural assumption that the possibility of non-renewal was driven by the problems and issues. It’s a perfectly logical assumption given everything we know about this historic resource. Who would shut down a beloved historic oyster farm AFTER it had been cleaned up? Nobody imagined that in 2004.”

Brennan misrepresents what Rolph told her, leaving out all context, and writing only: “the message I got was that, No, nobody with NPS told Kevin he could renew per se.

Page 285              Brennan writes, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Koch-backed group chose to fund the fight.” What “coincidence” is being asserted? The implication here of shadowy interests is entirely absurd. Cause of Action is not “Koch-backed” nor did the group fund anything. Cause of Action is one of many firms that provided pro bono support. Brennan omits from her book any mention of the reason Cause of Action was engaged.

Cause of Action was engaged specifically to help the Lunnys and Dr. Goodman file a Data Quality Act complaint about the false science used by the park service. That 71-page DQA complaint is one of 5 DQAs lodged about this malfeasance. Two of those DQAs were filed by the Point Reyes Light, the newspaper for which Brennan worked for five months. Not one of these complaints is mentioned in the book, or even in the extensive bibliography. Cause of Action is presented as if it were an ideological ally, when nothing could be further from the truth—this group was selected strictly for its expertise in DQA filings, and its work product was top notch. Given that this book is being marketed as non-fiction, Brennan’s choice to omit all of these relevant facts is highly inappropriate.

Page 285              Brennan claims that the removal of this farm did not threaten others. That is incorrect, as documented by East Coast Shellfish Association president Bob Rheault, who has written several significant letters about this. Shellfish growers are very upset about the government’s false charges about oyster farming being bad for the environment, because they could have a chilling effect on future oyster-farm licenses.

Comment by John Hulls: While she (Summer Brennan) quoted Point Reyes Light articles in her bibliography, none of the papers award winning coverage is mentioned in the text, which is especially relevant considering the Light DQA’s and coverage of false science and economic studies.

3-30-16 Bohemian.com: Lawsuit threatens future of cattle at PRNS

 

Beef of Burden

Lawsuit threatens future of cattle at Point Reyes National Seashore—or does it?

03-20-16 This American Life on seals in San Diego

“…the show makes it clear the seals were never ‘threatened’…”

 

The Bennet Brigade and the environmental lawsuits are alive and well in San Diego, rivaling the Bennet/Desai/Trainer efforts here, and shows what happens when this behavior gets out of hand in a major metropolitan area.

 

http://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/582/when-the-beasts-come-marching-in

 

Unbelievable….the truth and real purpose becomes totally lost in acrimony on both sides….and the show makes it clear the seals were never ‘threatened’  and no middle ground was acceptable to the seal proponents…it was seal  proponents vs. shared use in which the shared use proponents where characterized as haters of seals and wildlife….This needs wide publicity….

 

Best,

John Hulls

03-20-16 NPT Cattle Grazing in PRNS Challenged in Lawsuit

Ethan Lane, currently the executive director of the Public Lands Council and of federal lands for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, prepared a report on ranching in the area for the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association in 2014. He said recently that the ranchers are “under imminent threat.”

The groups that filed the lawsuit “are attempting to create something there that has never been there,” Mr. Lane said. “They totally ignore the fact that that has been an agriculturally managed landscape for hundreds of years. You’ve never had a pure wilderness situation at Point Reyes.”

*     *     *     *     *

Mr. Lane, of the Public Lands Council, said ranchers at Point Reyes “are some of the most environmentally sensitive stewards of resources that I’ve ever come across. For them to become a target of this is doubly frustrating.”

*     *     *     *     *

Ranchers say best management practices, existing leases and assurances to Seashore ranchers, and the original intent of Congress have been ignored in the face of outside political pressure. Short-term lease renewals hinder their ability to qualify for loans and matching grants, and decrease incentive to invest in improvements.

“This is a kind of Frankenstein of the Park Service’s own creation,” Mr. Lane said, “and I don’t think they know where to go from here.”

 

By Scott Johnson on March 20th, 2016

Point Reyes National Seashore long has existed with ranching within its borders, but now some environmental groups want the cattle to go/Bruce Keegan

Less than two years after an oyster-farming operation was shut down in Point Reyes National Seashore following a dispute that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, three environmental groups are challenging the National Park Service over the planned renewal of leases to cattle-ranching and dairy operations that have existed on the coastal California peninsula for 150 years.

However, other conservation groups, some of which approved of the decision to remove Drakes Bay Oyster Company and convert the vacated land into wilderness, support continued sustainable farming at Point Reyes. They point out that the ranching families were instrumental in the establishment of the Seashore in 1962 and that turning away from that relationship would threaten the creation of public land elsewhere.

And for Bob McClure, whose daughters are the fifth generation of his family in the dairy business at Point Reyes, nearly 130 years of history is at risk.

“We are concerned, but we have not packed our suitcases yet,” he said. “I believe the park will continue to do what it can to support agriculture in the park.”

At issue is whether the Park Service has considered the impact that these ranches have on the environment and wildlife at Point Reyes, and whether the proposal to issue new leases without an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement violates the National Environmental Policy Act.

Three groups – the Resource Renewal Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project – filed a lawsuit Feb. 10 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco seeking to require the park to update its General Management Plan and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement before allowing the extension of grazing leases. They argue that the cattle and dairy operations, comprising more than 18,000 of the park’s 71,000 acres, negatively affect the environment (water quality, methane emissions, erosion, fish habitat), the infrastructure (pavement degradation from milk trucks) and recreational opportunities at Point Reyes. They say the park is relying on an outdated management plan, adopted in 1980, that fails to address current conditions, such as climate change, drought in the area and an expanding footprint of Tule elk.

“The Park Service continues to authorize commercial grazing permits at the Point Reyes National Seashore without an Environmental Impact Statement on how ranching impacts the park, which is needed to ensure protection of the park’s ecosystems,” Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity who lives in West Marin, said in a release. “We’re filing this lawsuit because we love the park and believe it’s up to everyone to make sure the National Seashore is managed sustainably so that future generations can enjoy it as we have.”

Some environmental groups contend that cattle shouldn’t be allowed within the borders of Point Reyes National Seashore/Karen Klitz

A spokesperson for the national seashore declined to comment due to the active litigation, but in 2014 the park began to prepare a new Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan, which includes an Environmental Assessment, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. A scoping fact sheet notes that these working ranches, in an area known as the Pastoral Zone, “represent an important contribution to the superlative natural and cultural resources of these NPS lands.”

More than 3,000 public comments were submitted on the plan. As of now, release of the Environmental Assessment for public review and comment is scheduled for later in 2016, which is a year behind the original schedule. No progress has recently been made on the General Management Plan.

“We feel the current planning process allows for full public review,” said Kate Powers, president of the Marin Conservation League, which supports continued ranching at the Seashore.

Ethan Lane, currently the executive director of the Public Lands Council and of federal lands for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, prepared a report on ranching in the area for the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association in 2014. He said recently that the ranchers are “under imminent threat.”

The groups that filed the lawsuit “are attempting to create something there that has never been there,” Mr. Lane said. “They totally ignore the fact that that has been an agriculturally managed landscape for hundreds of years. You’ve never had a pure wilderness situation at Point Reyes.”

The lawsuit shines a light on an iconic coastline with rich natural, historical, cultural, and recreational value. Balancing those interests and understanding the intent of different legislation has led to decades of disagreements over priorities, purpose and protection at Point Reyes.

A Complex Land-Use History

Ranchers began grazing the area in the 1800s and were pioneers of California’s dairy industry, modernizing production equipment and methods. The lush grasses, fortified by a cool climate and moisture from rain and fog, make ideal conditions for grazing cattle. The Pastoral Zone is bordered to the east by Tomales Bay, to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the south by Drakes Bay, with Drakes Estero jutting inland to create four finger-shaped bays. The cattle dot windswept grasslands, with an occasional grouping of houses, barns and sheds that form the ranch complexes historically known by an alphabetical designation (A to Z). Some hug rugged headlands overlooking the ocean, and  others gently slope to sandy beaches.

That landscape, just a 40-mile drive north of San Francisco, was an obvious draw for developers and conservationists, which pushed property prices higher. As pressure increased in the 1950s and ’60s, Point Reyes ranchers joined with the Sierra Club to preserve their way of life. They offered to voluntarily sell their land to the Park Service at a reduced price in exchange for the opportunity to continue operating on the peninsula. Legislation to create Point Reyes National Seashore was signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The original allocation of $14 million from Congress was not enough to buy all the land, and it wasn’t until 1970 that an additional $43.5 million was secured to complete the purchases.

The pastoral zone is a bucolic area of Point Reyes National Seashore where cattle ranching is permitted/Karen Klitz

At the time of the authorization, there were about 27 working ranches at Point Reyes, according to Ranching on the Point Reyes Peninsula, a history of dairy and beef ranches released in 1993 by park historian D.S. (Dewey) Livingston. The ranchers signed 25- to 30-year reservations of use and occupancy leases as well as special use permits for cattle grazing. Since then, leases have been renewed on short-term arrangements, generally maxing out at five years, as the family operations have been passed down from generation to generation. Today, 13 ranching families remain in the Pastoral Zone.

Now that most of the original reservations of use have expired, the lawsuit says the Park Service is under no obligation to renew the leases and permits. It cites the agency’s 2006 Management Policies, which states the Park Service should “phase out the commercial grazing of livestock whenever possible.” Ranching, under the decades-old park management plan, violates the Seashore’s mandate for “maximum protection” of wildlife and natural resources, the lawsuit says.

Gordon Bennett, the president of local conservation group Save Our Seashore and a supporter of continued ranching in the park, said the lawsuit definition is “not supportable.”

“If NPS held to the lawsuit’s strict interpretation of ‘maximum protection,’ then there would be no trails, no roads to Seashore beaches and no visitor centers,” Mr. Bennett said.

Point Reyes isn’t alone in having cattle graze within its boundaries, as Capitol Reef National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, both in Utah, are among other sites administered by the National Park Service that allow it.

But area scientist Corey Goodman says ranchers are being squeezed out of national parks. He has written about similarities between the agreements at Point Reyes and at Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park, where a family sold its land to the Park Service under an agreement that allowed them to continue ranching for up to 25 years. The family, pressured by environmentalists and tighter regulations, vacated its farming operation before obligated when a lawsuit claiming the ranch violated environmental restrictions was settled.

Mr. Lane, of the Public Lands Council, said ranchers at Point Reyes “are some of the most environmentally sensitive stewards of resources that I’ve ever come across. For them to become a target of this is doubly frustrating.”

Not The First Debate

Grazing cattle on public lands has made national headlines in the past few years, highlighted by the recent arrests of more than a dozen protesters, most prominently members of the Bundy family, for actions in Oregon and Utah. But at Point Reyes, a different type of farming set off a debate that helped lead to last month’s lawsuit.

When Drakes Bay Oyster Company took control of an oyster farm at Drakes Estero in 2005, owner Kevin Lunny was optimistic he could obtain a new lease. However, Ken Salazar, the Interior Secretary at the time, declined to renew the lease when it expired in 2012, saying the estero was marked for protection by the 1976 Point Reyes National Seashore Wilderness Act. The commercial operation was seen as being incompatible with such a designation. After Secretary Salazar’s decision, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis designated Drakes Estero as part of the Phillip Burton Wilderness Area. The oyster company sued, and the case was appealed for two years all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to review the case. Drakes Bay Oyster Company closed at the end of 2014, which ended a decades-long history of commercial shellfishing at the Seashore.

In some areas of the pastoral zone, trodding cattle have eroded away the grass/Karen Klitz

That dispute prompted Secretary Salazar to direct the Park Service to work on extending leases “from 10 to 20 years to provide greater certainty and clarity for the ranches operating within the national park’s Pastoral Zone and to support the continued presence of sustainable ranching and dairy operations,” according to a release from 2012. Then, in a memo dated Jan. 31, 2013, Director Jarvis delegated authority to issue leases and permits of up to 20 years, saying the directive is “supportive of multi-generational ranching and dairying within the Pastoral Zone and is consistent with the … provisions of the park’s enabling legislation.

Neal Desai, director of Pacific Region Field Operations for the National Parks Conservation Association, said both ranching in the park and the RCMP process should continue.

“National Parks Conservation Association supports Secretary Salazar’s multi-part decision at Point Reyes National Seashore that protected Drakes Estero marine wilderness and directed the Park Service to pursue 20-year lease terms for Seashore ranchers,” Mr. Desai said. “We believe that the development of the Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan is an appropriate approach to ensure improved protections for all Seashore values, including recreation, public access, natural resources and wildlife. The plan will help ensure that ranching operations standardize best management practices in support of the Seashore’s diverse values.”

That opinion is shared by local conservations groups.

“The public and NPS made the deal to create the Seashore out of private ranch lands, and that deal has to be kept, just as the wilderness deal had to be kept,” Mr. Bennett said.

Tule Elk Highlight Tensions

Although some environmental groups have spoken up in support of ranching and dairying, both sides have concerns.

Conservationists say cattle grazing can degrade grassland and meadow habitats and contribute to degraded water quality through manure and waste runoff. Public comments noted unpleasant odors and sights associated with cattle waste.

“The Sierra Club does not oppose the extension of the ranch leases but does oppose any ranching practices that adversely affect the natural resources of the park,” said Alan Carlton, chair of the Federal Parks Committee of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club. He added that the group does not have a position on the lawsuit.

Ranchers say best management practices, existing leases and assurances to Seashore ranchers, and the original intent of Congress have been ignored in the face of outside political pressure. Short-term lease renewals hinder their ability to qualify for loans and matching grants, and decrease incentive to invest in improvements.

“This is a kind of Frankenstein of the Park Service’s own creation,” Mr. Lane said, “and I don’t think they know where to go from here.”

While cattle grazing is one issue at Point Reyes National Seashore, there also have been charges that the National Park Service has not properly managed the Tule elk on the seashore/NPS

But probably the biggest point of contention is Tule elk, which were reestablished at the Seashore beginning in 1978. Just as environmentalists argue that the impacts of the cattle and dairy operations hasn’t been studied, ranchers say elk have been allowed to roam freely in the Pastoral Zone, which was not intended, and little has been done to remove them. The elk destroy fencing, can spread disease, interfere with operations and graze on grasslands leased to ranchers.

“Point Reyes is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been, and it’s not just from a natural perspective,” Mr. Lane said. “It is that balance, that totally unique environment and snapshot of history. It’s a healthy ecosystem. To arbitrarily release a new element into that is irresponsible.”

Once abundant in California, Tule elk populations dwindled in the 1800s, primarily due to overhunting and displacement by cattle. Thought to be extinct, around 30 animals were discovered in 1874, and efforts were made to save the species. State and federal legislation led to 10 animals being reintroduced at a 2,600-acre fenced enclosure on Tomales Point in 1978 in an attempt to restore natural systems historically found at Point Reyes. The fence was introduced to keep the elk separate from the cattle. After a period of slow growth, the population exploded to more than 500 in the 1990s, and ranchers pointed to studies that that number far exceeded optimal carrying capacity.

The park explored options for controlling the elk population. In 1998, 28 animals taken from Tomales Point were released in the wilderness area south of Limantour Beach, across Drakes Estero from the Pastoral Zone.

But starting in 2000, some of the elk were spotted at Drakes Beach in the Pastoral Zone. These free-roaming elk were not covered under the 1998 Elk Management Plan, and ranchers say the Park Service chose not to deal with the incursion. In population numbers for 2014, an RCMP update noted 92 Tule elk at “D Ranch.” Last year, the park moved three elk from D Ranch to Limantour, and two returned to D Ranch within 11 days.

Between 2012 and 2014, more than 250 Tule elk living in the fenced preserve on Tomales Point died, which the park attributed to drought conditions in California. Last month, five free-roaming tule elk at the Seashore tested positive for Johne’s disease, which can lead to rapid weight loss and diarrhea. The elk were part of the Drake’s Bay herd, which shares pasture with cattle. The disease occurs most frequently in domestic livestock herds.

“Although present park management inherited the problem, it is a huge problem and it has no easy solution,” said Mr. McClure, whose land at the northern end of the peninsula has not yet been impacted by the elk, though he expects it will without management. “In my opinion, it is the biggest problem of the ranches in the park today.”

Opportunities For Improvement

Mr. McClure, whose McClure Dairy milks about 500 cows on 1,200 acres, said the 20-year leases would give ranches security and incentive to invest back into the property. He noted the Seashore was helpful when he wanted to build new barns that solved his ranch’s impacts from runoff on water quality in Abbotts Lagoon.

This cooperation among ranchers, the Park Service, and environmental groups has “opened my eyes on how to lessen some impacts that agriculture can have on our natural resources and come up with best management practices to continue ranching on the Point.”

The rancher said the relationship has worked well for 45 years, and the in-progress Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan will bring an improved ecosystem.

“Lawsuits should be a last resort,” he said. “We should be able to cooperatively work together to solve issues without involving the courts.”

The lawsuit takes issue with the park moving forward with the RCMP, which primarily focuses on the long-term needs of ranchers, and not a General Management Plan for all public uses at the Seashore.

“The Park Service needs to take a step back and look at the impacts of commercial ranching on the park overall,” Huey D. Johnson, president of Resource Renewal Institute and former California Secretary of Resources, said in a release announcing the lawsuit.

Although Mr. Bennett, of Save Our Seashore, supports granting the ranchers new leases, he sees multiple items – wildlife-friendly fencing, sizing and maintaining of manure ponds, overgrazing – to be addressed by the RCMP. These issues and more, such as recreational opportunities, habitat enhancement and historic structures, are being considered as part of the process.

“There can and should be a renaissance of sustainable agriculture in Point Reyes that can be a model nationwide,” he said.

Traveler footnote: To read a column that argues for removal of cattle ranches at Point Reyes, click here.

4/30/15 E&E Daily INTERIOR: ‘We’re terrified,’ rancher tells lawmakers about Park Service

Kevin Lunny, co-owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., described his dispute with the National Park Service in harrowing detail. The rancher and business owner claimed that the agency had undertaken a “taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run a small business out of” Point Reyes, Calif.
“Let me be clear: We did not fail as a business. This was not bad luck,” Lunny said. “Our family experienced the worst of what a motivated federal agency can do to a small business.”
E&E Daily
INTERIOR:
‘We’re terrified,’ rancher tells lawmakers about Park Service
Kevin Bogardus, E&E reporter
Published: Thursday, April 30, 2015
House lawmakers yesterday chewed on the years-long battle over the fate of a former California oyster farm as they delved into the alleged abuse of government-funded science.
Kevin Lunny, co-owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., described his dispute with the National Park Service in harrowing detail. The rancher and business owner claimed that the agency had undertaken a “taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run a small business out of” Point Reyes, Calif.
“Let me be clear: We did not fail as a business. This was not bad luck,” Lunny said. “Our family experienced the worst of what a motivated federal agency can do to a small business.”
Lunny was testifying before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The hearing was called to examine allegations of federal agencies using “politically driven science,” according to the subpanel’s notice.
Under a settlement agreement announced last year with the Interior Department, Lunny had to close down his oyster farm after losing a protracted legal fight over its operation in a potential wilderness area (E&ENews PM, Oct. 6, 2014). The farm had harvested oysters for decades in Drakes Bay. Lunny bought the farm in 2005.
At yesterday’s hearing, Lunny said he was subject to misrepresentations and attacks by the Park Service during his fight to renew his oyster farm lease, which had expired in 2012. He described a federal environmental impact statement on the oyster farm as “weaponized.”
Lunny still operates a ranch in the area and claimed that the Park Service now has been isolating ranchers. Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) asked Lunny if there would be “negative consequences” for him from testifying before the subcommittee.
“We’re terrified. Ranchers that are sitting behind me are terrified because we are challenging the Park Service very seriously. They did lie. They did falsify science,” Lunny said.
The Park Service has tried to repair its ties with ranchers in the area after the bitter fight over the oyster farm (Greenwire, June 4, 2014).
The Interior inspector general in 2008 found that a scientist employed by Point Reyes National Seashore misstated data on the environmental impacts of mariculture to hurt the oyster farm (Greenwire, July 23, 2008).
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said he has known Lunny for years and that he is “a good and decent guy.” The congressman noted that the battle over Drakes Bay, which is based in his congressional district, has “strained relationships that we are still working very hard to put back together.”
“Re-litigating these old accusations from a matter that has been closed at a time when this community is really trying to move on is not helpful or productive,” Huffman said.  [the case was never litigated, the Lunny’s asked for an injunction to remain open while a lawsuit could be pursued]
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), chairman of the subcommittee, said the hearing was an examination of science manipulated by agencies for their own purposes.
“This will be an honest assessment of how the system has failed,” Gohmert said.
Lawmakers also heard from witnesses on how the Fish and Wildlife Service’s faulty counting of whooping cranes led to drawn-out litigation for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In addition, the panel heard that recovery efforts in Bastrop County, Texas, from a wildfire were delayed because of protections for the Houston toad, an endangered species.
Democrats sought to pivot the hearing toward discussion of attacks on science, including on those researching climate change.
“In a hearing about politically driven science, climate denial is the ultimate case study,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
At one point, Gohmert responded forcefully to suggestions that the hearing was unfairly going after science.
“The purpose of the hearing was to hear from real people, mammals called human beings that have been harmed by the federal government,” said the subcommittee chairman.
Toward the close of yesterday’s hearing, Gohmert said his subpanel would continue to look into alleged wrongdoing by federal agencies.
“You can expect more hearings to get to the bottom of what our government has been doing to our people,” Gohmert said.

4/29/15 Daily Caller: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE EMPLOYEES LIED TO PUT HISTORIC OYSTER COMPANY OUT OF BUSINESS

CLICK THIS LINK  http://naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398357

AND THEN CLICK ON THE “WATCH THE ARCHIVED HEARING WEBCAST ” LINK ON THAT PAGE.

Oversight Hearing on “Zero Accountability: The Consequences of Politically Driven Science.”

The House Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations held a hearing yesterday, 4/29/15 at 2 PM and one of the issues they looked at is the misuse of science by the NPS in Drakes Estero.  Kevin Lunny was called to testify as a witness.

 

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE EMPLOYEES LIED TO PUT HISTORIC OYSTER COMPANY OUT OF BUSINESS
04-29-2015 5:42 pm – Michael Bastasch – Daily Caller
The National Park Service used falsified data to shut down an 80-year-old oyster company in Point Reyes, Calif, its owner claims.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company operated in Point Reyes for decades until National Park Service officials used falsified data to force Kevin Lunny’s family-run oyster farm to shut down. The experience has left its mark on Lunny: “We Are Terrified,” he told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.

“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business,” Lunny said in his prepared testimony. “This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.”

Lunny made this statement in response to a question by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador asking whether or not Lunny felt like there could be consequences from his testimony against the National Parks Service.

Even Democratic California Rep. Jared Huffman admitted that in the rush to get rid of industry from Point Reyes, government officials and environmentalists “overstated” evidence that Lunny’s farm was harming the environment.

“No one has apologized,” Lunny said.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is located in Northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, where it has been for decades. Point Reyes isn’t your typical national park because it was created to preserve the historic coastline where people have been settled since the Gold Rush. It was never intended to be a major tourist attraction like Yellowstone.

For decades the Park Service had a good relationship with the oyster company, but that all changed in the mid-2000s. All of the sudden, NPS officials started blaming the company for an 80 percent decline in the local harbor seal population. Officials also blamed Lunny’s farm for upsetting the ecological balance of Drakes Estero.

But all of these accusations against Drakes Bay Oyster Company turned out to be completely false. The National Parks Service lacked any scientific data to back up its claims that the company was killing seals and hurting the local environment. In fact, studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Health Department showed the Parks Service was completely wrong.

NPS, however, didn’t stop there and kept making false claims against the oyster company.

“The Park Service misrepresented that study,” Lunny said. “They instead attempted to demonstrate harm by substituting data from a sixty-year-old study conducted at the Sea of Japan and attributing it to our farm.”

“For example, in assessing the noise impact of our small outboard motor boats, the Park Service, rather than measuring our boats on our soundscape [as required], instead used the measurements from a seventy-horsepower, 700cc Kawasaki jet ski in New Jersey,” Lunny added.

Lunny appealed to higher ups at the National Park Service for help in the matter and to correct the record on false statements made by the agency, but he got no help from the government.

“The local Park Service staff were not willing to correct the false claims, so we went to the Regional Director,” Lunny said. “No help there. Then we went to the Park Service Director, and finally the Secretary of Interior. No one, at any level, was willing to admit that false science was being used against us, or to at least correct the record and stop the false accusations.”

The Interior Department’s own inspector general even found misconduct by agency officials and that they misrepresented facts. But even so, the inspector general was powerless to stop Parks Service officials from attacking Lunny’s business.

Eventually, Drakes Bay Oyster Farm closed its doors because of the litigation and regulatory actions taken by the federal government.

“What the Park Service did to our family was unconscionable,” Lunny said. “This polluted legacy of false science has tainted our dealings with state and federal agencies, and has resulted in unnecessary regulatory and legal action against our family and our farm.”

————————-
SOURCE: http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/29/oyster-farmer-we-are-terrified-of-the-govt/

4-29-15 We didn’t get our day in court however, we exposed the fraud, conspiracy and scientific misconduct of the PRNS, NPS, and DOI

Oyster Farmer: ‘We Are Terrified’ Of The Gov’t
Photo of Michael Bastasch
MICHAEL BASTASCH
4:53 PM 04/29/2015
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The National Park Service used falsified data to shut down an 80-year-old oyster company in Point Reyes, Calif, its owner claims.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company operated in Point Reyes for decades until National Park Service officials used falsified data to force Kevin Lunny’s family-run oyster farm to shut down. The experience has left its mark on Lunny: “We Are Terrified,” he told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.

“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business,” Lunny said in his prepared testimony. “This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.”

Lunny made this statement in response to a question by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador asking whether or not Lunny felt like there could be consequences from his testimony against the National Parks Service.

Even Democratic California Rep. Jared Huffman admitted that in the rush to get rid of industry from Point Reyes, government officials and environmentalists “overstated” evidence that Lunny’s farm was harming the environment.

“No one has apologized,” Lunny said.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is located in Northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, where it has been for decades. Point Reyes isn’t your typical national park because it was created to preserve the historic coastline where people have been settled since the Gold Rush. It was never intended to be a major tourist attraction like Yellowstone.

For decades the Park Service had a good relationship with the oyster company, but that all changed in the mid-2000s. All of the sudden, NPS officials started blaming the company for an 80 percent decline in the local harbor seal population. Officials also blamed Lunny’s farm for upsetting the ecological balance of Drakes Estero.
But all of these accusations against Drakes Bay Oyster Company turned out to be completely false. The National Parks Service lacked any scientific data to back up its claims that the company was killing seals and hurting the local environment. In fact, studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Health Department showed the Parks Service was completely wrong.

NPS, however, didn’t stop there and kept making false claims against the oyster company.

“The Park Service misrepresented that study,” Lunny said. “They instead attempted to demonstrate harm by substituting data from a sixty-year-old study conducted at the Sea of Japan and attributing it to our farm.”

“For example, in assessing the noise impact of our small outboard motor boats, the Park Service, rather than measuring our boats on our soundscape [as required], instead used the measurements from a seventy-horsepower, 700cc Kawasaki jet ski in New Jersey,” Lunny added.

Lunny appealed to higher ups at the National Park Service for help in the matter and to correct the record on false statements made by the agency, but he got no help from the government.

“The local Park Service staff were not willing to correct the false claims, so we went to the Regional Director,” Lunny said. “No help there. Then we went to the Park Service Director, and finally the Secretary of Interior. No one, at any level, was willing to admit that false science was being used against us, or to at least correct the record and stop the false accusations.”

The Interior Department’s own inspector general even found misconduct by agency officials and that they misrepresented facts. But even so, the inspector general was powerless to stop Parks Service officials from attacking Lunny’s business.

Eventually, Drakes Bay Oyster Farm closed its doors because of the litigation and regulatory actions taken by the federal government.

“What the Park Service did to our family was unconscionable,” Lunny said. “This polluted legacy of false science has tainted our dealings with state and federal agencies, and has resulted in unnecessary regulatory and legal action against our family and our farm.”

08/04/2014 Oyster Farming is the “Wilderness”

AN EMAIL FROM A COLLEAGUE IN CONNECTICUT TODAY.

(Click on the link and then click to watch the video):

 

Oyster farming is the “Wilderness”………

Check this out – http://www.rhodyoysters.com/

Went there last weekend – “Farm to Table (his own Oyster Farm and his own Vegetable Farm)”. Now the Number 1 Restaurant in Rhode Island.

Get the message…………………… its sustainability.

Bruce McGown

CEO InterWeave.biz

 

 

 

 

01-24-15 ProPublica: Bad science from the Park Service

Kevin Lunny has owned and operated the Drakes Bay Oyster Company in a Pacific inlet north of San Francisco since 2005. This winter, an 80-year tradition of shellfish farming in the estuary came to an end when the National Park Service shut Drakes Bay down, claiming the company was a “heavy industry that imperiled the park’s wildlife.” While some environmentalists say “good government prevailed,” an investigation by Newsweek found that the science-as-evidence used to close down Lunny’s farm was either altered or bad. Newseek via @CivilEats

Bad Science, Crazy Mining Laws, and Childcare Horror Stories, #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica, “an ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism”

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/propublica/2015/01/propublica_muckreads_the_week_in_investigative_reporting.html 

1-23-15 U.S. Department of the Interior And Environmental Lobbyists Conspire To Suppress Science

“Salazar instead ignored science completely and manipulated reports and definitions to suit an environmental agenda.”

U.S. Department of the Interior And Environmental Lobbyists Conspire To Suppress Science
By Hank Campbell | January 23rd 2015 11:44 AM

Though we once got a promise to restore science to its rightful place, instead it looks more and more of the same anti-science mentality we got from President Clinton in the 1990s: Catering to environmental fringe groups – even going to far as declaring a small oyster farm “heavy industry” in order to shut them down.Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, as staunch a liberal as we can get, tried to take a stand for science and small business but was unable to prevent the Department of the Interior from “using scientifically unsound, and at times bizarre, tactics to prove the oyster farm had to go.”Feinstein pulled no punches in her assessment. “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,” she wrote to then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in March 2012. “It is my belief that the case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company is deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”That is a Cabinet post. It is impossible that the president was not aware of it, especially after Senator Feinstein leveled that charge.

Salazar instead ignored science completely and manipulated reports and definitions to suit an environmental agenda. To add an outside voice, Feinstein asked for a National Academy of Sciences report and they concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information” and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.”

An internal Interior Department investigation also found that Park Service scientists had “intentionally omitted the photographic research, in an effort to manipulate the outcome of [the NAS] report,” and were “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.”

Yet that was dismissed as “administrative” misconduct. Three of the Park Service employees that engaged in the fraud even got promoted.

What happened to the scientific results? The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hand-edited the reports to be completely different in their conclusion. We may never know what the science community would do if a Republican administration did that.

Wait, we do know. In 2004, the left-wing environmental advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists put out a petition demanding that science not be manipulated when the Bush administration did something far less egregious.

They called it “the Bush administration’s unprecedented censorship, manipulation, and misrepresentation” when they were trying to get Democratic Senator John Kerry elected to replace Bush but about this insult to scientific integrity they have not had a single complaint.

Nor have they complained any other time. It isn’t the first time the Obama administration has ignored science – with Keystone XL he keeps telling government scientists to do more studies until they create one that agrees with his personal belief (but promising to fast-track an extension over tribal burial grounds) and on Yucca Mountain he has even defied a federal court order to make a decision regarding the application. What has he done with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in response? He placed an anti-Yucca Mountain activist with no knowledge of nuclear energy in charge of it and one of the staffers is…the former head of Union of Concerned Scientists.

So it is understandable why Union of Concerned Scientists is not critical of the Obama administration. They are all hoping to get jobs working for him too. Left-wing sites like Huffington Post have been critical, though.

The BP oil spill report that was edited by the Obama administration got howls from the scientists who wrote it but from the broad science community there has been no outrage. There should have been, and should be, if science media wants to be regarded as trusted guides for the public on complex issues.

On the positive side, it is nice to know that the President doesn’t just ignore Republicans in Congress, he is equally opportunity dismissive of female Democrats in the Senate.

The Oyster Shell Game By Michael Ames, Newsweek. H/T Real Clear Science

 

for the original article, go to:

http://www.science20.com/cool-links/us_department_of_the_interior_and_environmental_lobbyists_conspire_to_suppress_science-152426

01-22-15 Pt Reyes Light: Seal Expert Says Federal Agency Ignored His Findings, by Samantha Kimmey

 “A scientist told a national magazine that a federal agency changed his analysis of photographs of Drakes Estero to justify a claim of environmental harm against Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which ceased operations last month….

In a Newsweek story published online last Sunday, Mr. Stewart said, “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values.” He added, “In science, you shouldn’t do that.” 

 
Seal expert says agency ignored his findings
By Samantha Kimmey
01/22/2015
A scientist told a national magazine that a federal agency changed his analysis of photographs of Drakes Estero to justify a claim of environmental harm against Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which ceased operations last month. 
Brent Stewart, who has been a senior research scientist at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute for decades, analyzed a selection of time-lapse photographs taken by a Point Reyes National Seashore camera for a 2012 United States Geological Survey report on harbor seals, a report later cited in the environmental impact statement on the oyster farm. 
He found no correlation with oyster boats, but the report said otherwise. 
In a Newsweek story published online last Sunday, Mr. Stewart said, “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values.” He added, “In science, you shouldn’t do that.” 
In response to a query from the Light, Mr. Stewart emailed that he was traveling and could not answer questions by press time. Allegations that oyster boats disturbed harbor seals—federally protected under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act—were for years made by the National Park Service and environmentalists championing the Drakes Bay’s removal. Others vociferously refuted those claims. After the park service was found to be in possession of hundreds of thousands of time-stamped photographs and then criticized for not taking advantage of them to assess the potential impacts of the farm, the park service asked the geological survey to undertake a report. 
The final version of the environmental impact statement on the farm, published in late 2012, cited that report, saying its analysis “attributed” two disturbance events to farm boats.
Mr. Stewart’s public allegations come two months after the geological survey dismissed a 2013 scientific misconduct complaint over the representation of Dr. Stewart’s study. The complaint was the seventh filed by Corey Goodman, a scientist and Marshall resident who became an outspoken critic of science produced and used by the park to oust the oyster company. 
A U.S.G.S. spokeswoman, Anne-Berry Wade, said the lead author of the agency’s seal report, William Lellis, could not speak to the press because of ongoing litigation over the complaint. 
An earlier allegation of scientific misconduct over the suppression the photographs was investigated by Gavin Frost, a solicitor for the Department of the
Interior. 
In his 2011 report, Mr. Frost described what he called “administrative misconduct.” Seashore scientists didn’t meet the bar of scientific misconduct, he wrote, because they did not fabricate or misrepresent data with the intent to deceive; however, they might have violated the park service’s scientific research policy and they “blurred the line between exploration and advocacy through research,” he said. Seashore scientists also erroneously believed that, because the camera project followed no stringent protocols, the photos were not actually research or data, Mr. Frost wrote. 
Because the park service didn’t undertake a thorough assessment of the images, the report said “potentially powerful evidence remains unknown.” 
Seal controversy
Drakes Bay Oyster Company was first accused of threatening harbor seal populations in 2007. Assertions that the farm had spurred an 80 percent decrease in seals in one area was removed from a park service report and later publicly retracted by the report’s author, but continued controversy over the impact of the farm’s two small boats led the National Academy of Sciences to examine the existing body of research on the impacts and the Marine Mammal Commission to consider the impacts to seals specifically. 
The academy’s 2009 report said that there was a “lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drakes Estero.” But it also said that independently verifiable data, “such as time and date stamped photographs,” could help determine whether boat activity affected the seals. 
The committee was not aware that such photographs existed.
In 2010, Mr. Goodman discovered—in a footnote of a park service document meant to rebut Mr. Goodman’s claims about other disturbance events—that that the park service had a cache of hundreds of thousands of photographs taken between 2007 and 2010 from wildlife cameras placed on the bluffs overlooking Drakes Estero. 
Park scientists denied that the camera’s existence was intentionally withheld, but they did not mention it during the Marine Mammal Commission meetings in early 2010 when a panel member noted how useful one might be. Sarah Allen, the scientist in charge of the camera project, denied hearing the suggestion, according to Mr. Frost.
The commission’s report said that the photos, in combination with a separate video made by a park volunteer, provided “convincing evidence” of one instance of oyster boat disturbance, on May 15, 2008, but that all the photos should be examined more closely. Park data that was used to establish a correlative relationship between seal populations and oyster harvests was “scant and stretched to its limit,” the report said.
A draft of the environmental impact statement on the oyster farm, released in 2011, was criticized for not taking advantage of the photos. 
In response to that critique and the commission’s suggestion, the National Park Service enlisted the geological survey to assess the pictures. 
Mr. Lellis, the deputy associate director of the survey’s ecosystems research department, said in a 2012 email to a colleague that the report was critically
important. 
“The NPS needs this analysis done by the end of March to brief Secretary Salazar who needs to make a decision on the Wilderness Status for the park…This is a high profile project. Very high profile, so we need to put our best people on it,” Mr. Lellis wrote to a colleague. 
Citing the volume of photos, their mediocre quality and the difficulty of evaluating individual photos for meaningful data, the geological survey created 191 time-lapse videos from over 3,000
photographs. 
The U.S.G.S. hired Mr. Stewart to assess a selection of these videos in which it thought there might be human-caused disturbances; Mr. Stewart was told to classify each video based on whether he found a disturbance and whether he could identify causation or just correlation.
The geological survey’s final report said that photos taken on two separate days—May 15 and June 11, 2008—showed flushing events correlated with boats. “[B]oat traffic at nearby sandbars… could be directly connected, or at least associated with a flushing level of disturbance,” it asserted. (Of the 10 total disturbances the report documented, it said two came from kayakers, two from birds and four from unknown sources.)
But in data and a two-page report Mr. Stewart submitted, boats were not responsible for disturbing the seals. In the video sequences he analyzed, he said he found seven disturbance events—meaning that he could see seals flushing—potentially related to human presence. In one, he writes that the seals seem to clearly flush because of a nearby kayak. But he couldn’t link the presence of oyster skiffs to the three other events when boats were present in the frames. (For the other three videos, he could find no apparent human cause.)
The U.S.G.S. later asked Mr. Stewart to take another look at videos from two days: May 15 and June 11, the dates of the two incidents cited in the final U.S.G.S. report.
Mr. Stewart again said there was no correlation between seal movements and the appearance of a boat. He wrote that on May 15, a boat appeared in the frame at 1:55 p.m. and left nine minutes later. A small number seals then flushed into the water and some others moved toward the water, but he wrote there was no obvious stimulus. The June 11 photographs showed a “minor startle” of seals about 10 minutes after a boat leaves the area, but he didn’t believe they had been flushed.Mr. Stewart told Newsweek that he asked the geological survey if he could fix the report after it was published. He was told that it was too late, a response Mr. Stewart described as “shocking.”
This November, well over a year after Mr. Goodman filed his last complaint, the U.S.G.S. closed the case, finding no misconduct. On a website detailing closed scientific complaint cases, the agency asserted that its report “made no claim” correlating disturbances of harbor seals with boat activity from the oyster farm. The rebuttal also cites sections of the final report that discuss the difficulty and limitations of analyzing the photographs. 
But the report itself said “two [flushing events] were associated with boat activity”—a finding the park service turned into “Two flushing disturbance events were attributed to boat traffic at nearby sand bars” in the oyster farm’s 2012 impact statement. 
The park service ultimately concluded that continued operations would lead to long-term moderate adverse impacts to harbor seals. The environmental impact statement also cites other reports in the section on harbor seals—including the one by park service scientists correlating oyster harvest with harbor seal populations, and the Marine Mammal Commission report, both heavily criticized.
When then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar decided to close the farm, he acknowledged that the park, advocates of wilderness and farm supporters had vigorously debated the science around the farm. He said he based his decision on law and policy, not environmental impacts. Yet although they were “not material to the legal and policy factors that provide the central basis for my decision, they have informed me with respect to the complexities, subtleties and uncertainties of this matter and have been helpful to me in making my decision.”
Melanie Gunn, the outreach coordinator for the seashore, echoed that sentiment this week. “There may always be debate about the science of Drakes Estero, which I am sure you have heard from all sides, but ultimately, the Secretary of the Interior made his decision based on law and policy, a decision that has been upheld in federal court. This has been a challenging issue for the park [and] community. We are pleased to have reached a joint settlement agreement with Drakes Bay Oyster Company that allows all parties to move forward,” she wrote to the Light.
The oyster farm closed its cannery last summer, and December saw that last harvest. Within days the buildings were torn down, and the park service is working to remove remaining shellfish because the state health department is no longer testing them. 
But Mr. Goodman says what happened between Mr. Stewart’s report and the farm’s impact statement still matters. “As scientists, we believe that when the government publishes a report…it should be accurate and should have integrity,” he said.
 

01-20-15 Marin IJ: Oyster farm’s demise sets stage for next park battle, by Dick Spotswood

“Just 20 days after the Lunny family operation closed on New Year’s Eve, the farm and all of its facilities are gone. Not just closed, but almost any evidence that it ever existed has disappeared.

When senior bureaucrats have a personal stake in doing something, miracles occur. Oddly, the usual cast of activists that habitually demands studies, scoping sessions and public hearings ad nauseum before any action is taken were missing in action.

It’s difficult to conceive that the oyster farm’s speedy demolition was a federal government project.

Perhaps the National Park Service’s whiz kids who masterminded Lunny’s speedy exit next need new tasks. They might aim their previously undisclosed expediting talents on the never-ending Ross Valley flood control plan or restoration of the third traffic lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.”

 
Dick Spotswood: Oyster farm’s demise sets stage for next park battle
Marin Independent Journal
POSTED:   01/20/2015 04:14:30 PM PST
 
Given the glacial progress involved in any government endeavor, it’s startling to see any agency moving at warp speed. That just happened with the Point Reyes National Seashore’s almost instant eradication of the Drakes Bay oyster farm.
Just 20 days after the Lunny family operation closed on New Year’s Eve, the farm and all of its facilities are gone.
Not just closed, but almost any evidence that it ever existed has disappeared.
When senior bureaucrats have a personal stake in doing something, miracles occur. Oddly, the usual cast of activists that habitually demands studies, scoping sessions and public hearings ad nauseum before any action is taken were missing in action.
It’s difficult to conceive that the oyster farm’s speedy demolition was a federal government project.
Perhaps the National Park Service’s whiz kids who masterminded Lunny’s speedy exit next need new tasks. They might aim their previously undisclosed expediting talents on the never-ending Ross Valley flood control plan or restoration of the third traffic lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
It appears the motivation behind the frenetic effort to demo the oyster harvesting sheds was to remove even the slightest possibility that some action could halt the yearslong effort to convert Drakes Estero into a wilderness area. The park’s hierarchy was never the honest broker in the oyster battles. In part, that’s due to a long-standing park service culture that regards “inholdings,” any non-public use of park lands, as inimical to the agency’s mission.
The Great Marin Oyster War is over. The Lunny family has left the estero, remaining fresh oysters are destroyed, their mostly Hispanic workers dispersed and the site cleared.
Now longtime Point Reyes peninsula residents await the next big threat to their existence.
The soon-to-be-released National Seashore Ranch Comprehensive Plan will determine the fate of two dozen or so ranches and 26,000 acres of pastoral land long used for grazing. To most Marinites they represent the heart of sustainable agriculture in West Marin. To others, who would expand the wilderness zone, they are intrusive “inholdings.”
Even the coterie of environmental activists that pine for the ranches’ demise don’t envision that the plan’s environmental assessment will literally call for their closure.
That would be political suicide, even in dark-green liberal Marin.
The agriculture community’s concern is that some seemingly innocuous policy will be inserted in the plan as a poison pill that indirectly causes the ranches to become economically untenable. The likeliest point of conflict will involve the interface between cattle and tule elk that the park service encourages to proliferate on Point Reyes.

01-18-15 NEWSWEEK, Tech & Science: The Oyster Shell Game – “YOU’VE BEEN SHUCKED”, by Michael Ames,

Newsweek TECH & SCIENCE

The Oyster Shell Game

BY MICHAEL AMES / JANUARY 18, 2015 11:49 AM EST

Some SIGNIFICANT EXCERPTS from the article (with emphasis added)

The idea that Lunny’s farm was a heavy industry that imperiled the park’s wildlife was, for a while at least, the core reason for evicting him. But for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the only agency with the power to enforce full wilderness protection, there was one problem with this argument: PROVING IT!!! 

After Lunny accepted some legal aid from a libertarian group in Washington, D.C., the rhetoric from environmentalists turned apocalyptic. Amid howls of Koch brothers lurking and baby seals dying, the oyster farm’s request for a 10-year lease extension was described as “a precedent-setting land-grab effort” and a step toward privatizing the entire National Park System. In the face of this escalation, Feinstein’s coalition drew in Republican congressmen, former California lawmakers and dissenting Bay Area progressives, including the chef Alice Waters and the writer Michael Pollan.

“I firmly believe that renewal of the permit is the only way for the Park Service to send an unmistakable signal that the [Obama] administration’s commitment to scientific integrity is real,” Feinstein told Salazar.

Findings Altered

“I’m not interested in being a whistle-blower,” Brent Stewart said. But documents he recently shared with Newsweek reveal how a federal science agency ignored norms of academic research in an apparent effort to justify policy and shut down a private business.

Stewart is a marine biologist and seal behavior expert with the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego. In May 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recruited him to evaluate photos taken by “remotely operated wildlife monitoring cameras” that a Park Service scientist had secretly installed around the estero in May 2007, and that over the years became the focal point of the controversy.

When the conflict between the Park Service and the Lunny family first erupted in 2007, the Marin County Board of Supervisors reached out to two people: Feinstein and Corey Goodman, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member and a former University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford biology professor who lives near Point Reyes. They discovered a Park Service outpost whose scientists had published dubious environmental reports that, for example, erroneously attributed one seal colony’s 80 percent decline to the oyster farm. The disappearing seals, Goodman later learned, had merely relocated closer to the farm.

Feinstein called on the NAS to conduct an external review of the Park Service’s environmental studies. The resulting report concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information” and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.”

Throughout the battle, environmental groups had labeled the farm, as one brochure put it, “an ecological disaster.” But after THE NAS REPORT DIFFUSED THE URGENCY over issues like eelgrass (coverage had actually doubled from 1991 to 2007), fish (healthy) and invasive tunicates (problematic, but also epidemic worldwide), attention once again turned to the estero’s marquee wildlife: those seals.   

…the NAS called for more and better research on them in Drakes Estero and SPECIFICALLY SUGGESTED  “a data collection system that could be independently verified, such as TIME- AND DATE-STAMPED PHOTOGRAPHS.” What the NAS did not know, because Park Service scientists had not told it, was that such a trove of evidence ALREADY EXISTED—roughly 250,000 archived photographs, snapped once a minute by an automatic Reconyx Silent Image game camera, every day from sunup to sundown during the seals’ spring pupping season, FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS. The photos documented oyster boats passing the seals at a distance of about 700 yards, or a little under a half-mile, with a large noise-buffering sandbar between them AND NO CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT EITHER MAN OR BEAST HAD EVER NOTICED THE OTHER.  

When Feinstein learned that the Park Service had concealed these photos, she went into full boil. Park Service scientists, she said, “acted as if they were advocates with no responsibility to fairly evaluate the scientific data.” She told Salazar the integrity of his agency was on the line. 

Goodman filed a formal scientific-misconduct complaint, which in turn triggered an internal investigation by a DOI field solicitor named Gavin Frost, who was no more charitable in his assessment. Park Service scientists, Frost wrote, had “intentionally omitted the photographic research, in an effort to manipulate the outcome of [the NAS] report,” and were “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.” Frost’s report ultimately charged Park Service employees with the lesser crimes of “scholarly” and “administrative” misconduct and let them carry on with their seal studies undeterred.

In 2012, with the end of the farm’s lease approaching, the DOI ordered the USGS to complete a definitive study of the seal photographs. Stewart, … was called in … to determine whether the photos were sufficient for scientific research and whether, … Lunny’s boats had disturbed the creatures.  

…Stewart … reports, determined there were no disturbances attributable to the oyster farm’s boats. …But when the USGS published its final report that November, Stewart discovered that his findings had been altered and that the study reached conclusions his research directly contradicted. “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values,” says Stewart. “In science, you shouldn’t do that.”

….the USGS went back to Stewart months later and asked him to double-check his work ON TWO DATES IN PARTICULAR. He did as requested and reiterated his findings, but even this did not alter the final report’s inaccuracies. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Park Service took this alteration one step further by implying causation between the boats and the seals, something Stewart had explicitly ruled out. Eventually, this Impact Statement would beused by Department of Justice lawyers in their arguments against Lunny before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stewart told his contacts at the USGS that their report had errors and asked if he could correct them. “The response I got was, ‘No, it’s done. It can’t be changed.’ That was a bit shocking.”

This wasn’t the first time a DOI agency was caught making fraudulent claims. Two years ago, Feinstein and Goodman uncovered an attempt to by the Park Service to use sound measurements from a 1995 study on New Jersey jet skis in order to show that Lunny’s boats were distressing the seals. “I am frankly stunned,” by the patterns of abuse, Feinstein wrote in her final letter on the matter to Salazar.

Goodman, a professor who peppers his conversations with sayings like “facts are our friends,” emerged as a fierce advocate for the farm and against what he sees as the misuse of science. In May 2013, he filed another scientific misconduct complaint against the USGS where he reiterated  how the agency had twisted Stewart’s facts. “[It] is so absurd,” he told Newsweek, “you could show it to grammar school students and they would immediately understand it was ridiculous.”

This past November, the USGS dismissed Goodman’s 160-page complaint with a one-page letter. The agency’s Scientific Integrity Office did not address the specifics of Goodman’s report in either their letter or in a brief overview published on the DOI website. In the latter, the USGS stated that “no evidence was provided by the complainant, nor found during the inquiry of any significant departure from accepted practices…nor was there any evidence of intent to deceive or misrepresent work.” WHEN PRESSED FOR EXPLANATION OF THEIR DECISION, THE USGS DID NOT RESPOND.

Since 2007, three Park Service employees that Frost charged with scholarly or administrative misconduct have been promoted within the agency. The USGS and DOI declined to comment on this story. U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, whose 2nd congressional district includes Point Reyes (and whose office has had copies of Stewart’s reports since May 2013), also declined comment on this story, as did Marcia McNutt, who served as USGS director from 2009 to 2013 and is now editor-in-chief of the journal Science. NONE OF STEWART’S CO-AUTHORS ON THE 23012 USGS REPORT RESPONDED TO REQUESTS FOR COMMENT.

An ‘All or Nothing’ Ethic

“There are deep roots to the hostility of environmentalism toward agriculture,” Michael Pollan wrote to Feinstein in 2012. “An ‘all or nothing’ ethic that pits man against nature, wilderness against agriculture, may be useful in some places, under some circumstances, but surely not in this place at this time.” Lunny’s oyster farm, he wrote, “stands as a model for how we might heal these divisions.”

You’ve Been Shucked

Goodman hasn’t given up the fight for good science, but he is discouraged by the politics. “The environmental movement has lost its way,” he said. “And I say that as an environmentalist and a lifelong Democrat.” 

 

Two weeks before Christmas, in a serene Pacific inlet north of San Francisco, a small mountain of fresh oysters sat rotting in the rain. Kevin Lunny, the owner of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, watched a yellow mini-dozer chug back from the waterfront, tip its shovel and, in a great clattering of shells, dump hundreds more onto the heap.

After seven years of political and legal battles that have grown into one of the ugliest environmental fights in the country, this was the end of the line for Lunny’s oyster farm. “It’s been a terrible time,” said Lunny, who still lives on the nearby cattle ranch where he grew up and where his grandfather started a dairy farm in 1947. The forced closure of the oyster company marks the end, after almost 80 years, of modern shellfish farming in Drakes Estero, the tidal estuary that lies at the center of the dispute.

In 1935, an oyster farm was established in the estuary’s innermost harbor, run for a few decades by a rotating crop of shellfish farmers, and from 1961 on it was called the Johnson Oyster Company. The estero was a generous sea garden, eventually becoming a source of about 500,000 pounds of oyster meat a year, all grown with nothing more than seawater and sunshine. “It was a resource for a lot of people,” Lunny said.

But Drakes Estero is also an environmental sanctuary. It’s home to one of the state’s largest harbor seal colonies and significant numbers of shorebirds, and is prized by naturalists as the ecological heart of the Point Reyes National Seashore, public land managed by the National Park Service. In November 1972, the Johnson family sold their five acres of shoreline to the federal government for $79,200 and signed a 40-year lease that permitted a narrow range of business options, such as “the interpretation of oyster cultivation to the visiting public,” and was renewable as long as any future permit was “in accordance with National Park Service Regulations in effect at the time the reservation expires.” In 2005, Johnson sold that permit to Lunny, who cleaned up and rebranded the old farm and dubbed it the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

Shutting down the farm this winter was a harsh blow for Lunny and his employees, some of whom worked here for over 25 years, but a critical victory for environmental lobbying groups. For the past few years, advocacy organizations coordinated by two leads, the local Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) and the National Parks Conservation Association, fought to have the estuary converted to “full wilderness,” a sacrosanct designation that prohibits oystering, along with any other mechanized or motorized interference with the subtler designs of nature.

“At last, we get to restore Drakes Estero to its native splendor,” wrote Amy Trainer, executive director of the EAC, in a late-December column. “The harbor seals that come to Drakes Estero to give birth and raise their young will finally be free from disturbance.”

The idea that Lunny’s farm was a heavy industry that imperiled the park’s wildlife was, for a while at least, the core reason for evicting him. But for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the only agency with the power to enforce full wilderness protection, there was one problem with this argument: proving it.

To the bewilderment and eventual outrage of Lunny’s advocates in California and Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein chief among them—the DOI and its National Park Service spent much of the past decade using scientifically unsound, and at times bizarre, tactics to prove the oyster farm had to go. “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,” Feinstein wrote to then-secretary of the interior Ken Salazar in March 2012. “It is my belief that the case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company is deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”

After Lunny accepted some legal aid from a libertarian group in Washington, D.C., the rhetoric from environmentalists turned apocalyptic. Amid howls of Koch brothers lurking and baby seals dying, the oyster farm’s request for a 10-year lease extension was described as “a precedent-setting land-grab effort” and a step toward privatizing the entire National Park System. In the face of this escalation, Feinstein’s coalition drew in Republican congressmen, former California lawmakers and dissenting Bay Area progressives, including the chef Alice Waters and the writer Michael Pollan.

“I firmly believe that renewal of the permit is the only way for the Park Service to send an unmistakable signal that the [Obama] administration’s commitment to scientific integrity is real,” Feinstein told Salazar.

In November 2012, Salazar ruled against the farm, citing simple reasons: The lease was up; he had no obligation to renew it; and, he argued, the farm violated park policies for commercial activities within the National Park System.

 

Findings Altered

“I’m not interested in being a whistle-blower,” Brent Stewart said. But documents he recently shared with Newsweek reveal how a federal science agency ignored norms of academic research in an apparent effort to justify policy and shut down a private business.

Stewart is a marine biologist and seal behavior expert with the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego. In May 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recruited him to evaluate photos taken by “remotely operated wildlife monitoring cameras” that a Park Service scientist had secretly installed around the estero in May 2007, and that over the years became the focal point of the controversy.

When the conflict between the Park Service and the Lunny family first erupted in 2007, the Marin County Board of Supervisors reached out to two people: Feinstein and Corey Goodman, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member and a former University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford biology professor who lives near Point Reyes. They discovered a Park Service outpost whose scientists had published dubious environmental reports that, for example, erroneously attributed one seal colony’s 80 percent decline to the oyster farm. The disappearing seals, Goodman later learned, had merely relocated closer to the farm.

Feinstein called on the NAS to conduct an external review of the Park Service’s environmental studies. The resulting report concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information” and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.”

For example, when they saw seal numbers dropping, scientists made targeted assumptions about the oyster farm that ignored critical variables, such as nosy kayakers and shifting sandbars. Such limited data, the NAS said, “cannot be used to infer cause and effect.” Ultimately, the NAS “conclude[d] that there is a lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drakes Estero.”

Throughout the battle, environmental groups had labeled the farm, as one brochure put it, “an ecological disaster.” But after the NAS report diffused the urgency over issues like eelgrass (coverage had actually doubled from 1991 to 2007), fish (healthy) and invasive tunicates (problematic, but also epidemic worldwide), attention once again turned to the estero’s marquee wildlife: those seals.

Harbor seals are prevalent along the California coast, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, populations are stabilizing. But with the seals a protected species under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, the NAS called for more and better research on them in Drakes Estero and specifically suggested “a data collection system that could be independently verified, such as time- and date-stamped photographs.” What the NAS did not know, because Park Service scientists had not told it, was that such a trove of evidence already existed—roughly 250,000 archived photographs, snapped once a minute by an automatic Reconyx Silent Image game camera, every day from sunup to sundown during the seals’ spring pupping season, for more than three years. The photos documented oyster boats passing the seals at a distance of about 700 yards, or a little under a half-mile, with a large noise-buffering sandbar between them and no clear evidence that either man or beast had ever noticed the other.

When Feinstein learned that the Park Service had concealed these photos, she went into full boil. Park Service scientists, she said, “acted as if they were advocates with no responsibility to fairly evaluate the scientific data.” She told Salazar the integrity of his agency was on the line. “Whether it was intentional or because of personal bias, these practices must not be tolerated nor allowed to continue,” the senator said.

Goodman filed a formal scientific-misconduct complaint, which in turn triggered an internal investigation by a DOI field solicitor named Gavin Frost, who was no more charitable in his assessment. Park Service scientists, Frost wrote, had “intentionally omitted the photographic research, in an effort to manipulate the outcome of [the NAS] report,” and were “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.” Frost’s report ultimately charged Park Service employees with the lesser crimes of “scholarly” and “administrative” misconduct and let them carry on with their seal studies undeterred.

In 2012, with the end of the farm’s lease approaching, the DOI ordered the USGS to complete a definitive study of the seal photographs. Stewart, a respected 37-year veteran in the field, was called in as an independent authority to determine whether the photos were sufficient for scientific research and whether, after years of internal recrimination at DOI and the Park Service over the issue,  Lunny’s boats had disturbed the creatures.

On May 3, 2012, Stewart filed his reports, determining there were no disturbances attributable to the oyster farm’s boats. (There was one case, however, where a curious kayaker caused several seals to flush into the water.) But when the USGS published its final report that November, Stewart discovered that his findings had been altered and that the study reached conclusions his research directly contradicted. “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values,” says Stewart. “In science, you shouldn’t do that.”

For example, the USGS had deleted his words “no evidence of disturbance” for one date, and in its analysis stated that two disturbances “were associated with boat activity”—despite Stewart’s study that showed otherwise. Strangely, USGS went back to Stewart months later and asked him to double-check his work on two dates in particular. He did as requested and reiterated his findings, but even this did not alter the final report’s inaccuracies. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Park Service took this alteration one step further by implying causation between the boats and the seals, something Stewart had explicitly ruled out. Eventually, this Impact Statement would beused by Department of Justice lawyers in their arguments against Lunny before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stewart told his contacts at the USGS that their report had errors and asked if he could correct them. “The response I got was, ‘No, it’s done. It can’t be changed.’ That was a bit shocking.”

This wasn’t the first time a DOI agency was caught making fraudulent claims. Two years ago, Feinstein and Goodman uncovered an attempt to by the Park Service to use sound measurements from a 1995 study on New Jersey jet skis in order to show that Lunny’s boats were distressing the seals. “I am frankly stunned,” by the patterns of abuse, Feinstein wrote in her final letter on the matter to Salazar.

Goodman, a professor who peppers his conversations with sayings like “facts are our friends,” emerged as a fierce advocate for the farm and against what he sees as the misuse of science. In May 2013, he filed another scientific misconduct complaint against the USGS where he reiterated  how the agency had twisted Stewart’s facts. “[It] is so absurd,” he told Newsweek, “you could show it to grammar school students and they would immediately understand it was ridiculous.”

This past November, the USGS dismissed Goodman’s 160-page complaint with a one-page letter. The agency’s Scientific Integrity Office did not address the specifics of Goodman’s report in either their letter or in a brief overview published on the DOI website. In the latter, the USGS stated that “no evidence was provided by the complainant, nor found during the inquiry of any significant departure from accepted practices…nor was there any evidence of intent to deceive or misrepresent work.” When pressed for explanation of their decision, the USGS did not respond.

Since 2007, three Park Service employees that Frost charged with scholarly or administrative misconduct have been promoted within the agency. The USGS and DOI declined to comment on this story. U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, whose 2nd congressional district includes Point Reyes (and whose office has had copies of Stewart’s reports since May 2013), also declined comment on this story, as did Marcia McNutt, who served as USGS director from 2009 to 2013 and is now editor-in-chief of the journal Science. None of Stewart’s co-authors on the 2012 USGS report responded to requests for comment.

 

An ‘All or Nothing’ Ethic

Since it was designated as a national seashore by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, Point Reyes has been an ambitious social and environmental experiment. Historic working farms coexist with the park’s protected elk, egrets and elephant seals, and Western ranchers live in close and peaceful proximity to environmentalists. The two communities united in their shared wariness of development and suburbanization, and they collaborated on visionary legislative compromises that made Point Reyes an exceptional preserve close to a major metropolis. But the honeymoon was short-lived.

“There are deep roots to the hostility of environmentalism toward agriculture,” Michael Pollan wrote to Feinstein in 2012. “An ‘all or nothing’ ethic that pits man against nature, wilderness against agriculture, may be useful in some places, under some circumstances, but surely not in this place at this time.” Lunny’s oyster farm, he wrote, “stands as a model for how we might heal these divisions.”

In Northern California, where local food borders on an obsession for many, the agricultural community supported the farm, in both spirit and in court. Alice Waters filed a joint brief in the farm’s defense with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, joining the California Farm Bureau, Food Democracy Now and several restaurateurs and retailers. Along the winding roads that carry weekenders north from the city to graze on grass-fed burgers and aged goat gouda, dozens of hand-painted signs went up on barns, gas stations and storefront windows, pleading, “Save Our Drakes Bay Oysters.”

But to wilderness advocates, the state’s only oyster cannery, with its salt-crusted boats and front-end loaders and plastic oyster bags, was a dirty business in a sacred place. Jerry Meral, a respected conservationist who served as deputy secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency from 2011 to 2013 and sits on the board of the EAC, which led the fight against the farm, isn’t persuaded by the sustainable seafood argument. “It’s not the only oyster farm,” he told Newsweek. “If there’s a big demand for oysters, it will probably be filled, even if we have to bring them in from China…. I’m not sure you make a decision on the use of a national park on that kind of basis.”

You’ve Been Shucked

The Park Service and wilderness advocates now say that the issue in Drakes Estero was environmental policy, not environmental science. “Science will always be debated, like climate change,” said Melanie Gunn, outreach coordinator for Point Reyes National Seashore. “But the law and policy of the Wilderness Act is very clear,” she said in defense of Salazar’s decision to shut down the farm.

Lunny lost in his circuit court appeal, and this past June, when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, he ran out of legal options.

To Meral and his EAC, the controversy over bad science is overblown. “I think [Lunny] was treated fairly,” he says. The Park Service, he said, “intended to close him down, they did everything they could to close him down, and eventually they did close him down.” Trainer, who heads the West Marin EAC,wrote that “good government prevailed.”

Goodman hasn’t given up the fight for good science, but he is discouraged by the politics. “The environmental movement has lost its way,” he said. “And I say that as an environmentalist and a lifelong Democrat.” After seven years, Lunny is no longer surprised. The changes to Stewart’s science “is not the first fraud,” he said.

Before Christmas at Drakes Estero, as gulls stalked the perimeter of the rising oyster pile and the farm’s workers hauled out about $2.5 million in unsold oysters, Lunny reached into an exposed dirt hillside about 100 feet from the water and pulled out a small, white shell. “This is a confirmed Oly,” he said, using the nickname for the native Olympia oysters that once filled every bay and estuary on the Pacific Coast. The hillside was part of a midden, an ancient shell pile left behind by earlier seafood-eating peoples, in this case California’s indigenous coastal Miwok tribe, and carbon-dated to over 1,000 years old. Behind Lunny, the yellow mini-dozer coughed black smoke into the air, lifted its shovel and dumped more fresh oysters onto the rotting heap.

“This thing,” Lunny said without turning to look, “could drive me crazy if I let it.”

 

The link to the article is:  http://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/30/oyster-shell-game-300225.html

12-31-14 Pt Reyes Light Letters to Editor: Underwhelmed by Park

It’s been more than a month since
Corey Goodman and I challenged the
park service and its paid supporters to
take a pledge to oppose any suits to restrict
ranchers in the Point Reyes National
Seashore. To date, the responses have
underwhelmed. First there was Neal Desai
of the National Parks Conservation
Association, who called the challenge “ridiculous.”
Second was Amy Trainer of the
Environmental Action Committee, who
had the audacity to write that her idea to
remove cattle from Point Reyes actually
supported the ranchers. And the park has
said absolutely nothing. If that’s the best
they can do, we’re in serious trouble.
Peter Prows
San Francisco

12-24-14 West Marin Citizen, Opinion, Dr. Creque: “Our actions matter…on our… path to self-destruction”

“I have spent the past 35 years exploring… the many challenges attendant to producing food in a manner that is ecologically benign or, at its best, beneficial. …. it was not until I watched the evolution of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm under the stewardship of the Lunny family that I came to fully appreciate how closely the Farm approaches perfection as a truly sustainable food production system. This simple fact is made all the more poignant by the juxtaposition of the imminent loss of the Farm and the particularly critical juncture in human history at which we now find ourselves….

Arguments by opponents of the oyster farm, that its destruction is an environmental good, have been repeatedly exposed as without scientific merit….

I cannot help but wonder upon what planet those who have fought so diligently -and so obscenely- against the oyster farm, imagine themselves to be living. Earth, this planet, is in ecological crisis.

What might make a difference, what could make a difference, would be for us to wake up and recognize that we are part of this astonishing web of life, this vibrant blue sphere, this mote of dust in the sun. Our actions matter, for better or ill, as we choose. The oyster farm epitomizes the potential for our constructive, exuberant engagement with the full complexity of the living world. Perhaps this is why it cannot be allowed to stand by those who view mankind apart from that, who are incapable of imagining no role for our species but that of despoiler.

The discretionary elimination of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is but one more tragic, foolish, volitional step along our rapidly accelerating path to self-destruction. We have the capacity to build a world of abundance, but, thus far, have chosen another road.”

 

West Marin Citizen, 12/24/14

Opinion

On the loss of Drakes Bay OysterFarm

Significance beyond the obvious

Jeff Creque

I have spent the past 35 years exploring, through both theory and practice, the many challenges attendant to producing food in a manner that is ecologically benign or, at its best, beneficial. I have enjoyed oysters from Drakes Estero throughout that time, but it was not until I watched the evolution of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm under the stewardship of the Lunny family that I came to fully appreciate how closely the Farm approaches perfection as a truly sustainable food production system. This simple fact is made all the more poignant by the juxtaposition of the imminent loss of the Farm and the particularly critical juncture in human history at which we now find ourselves.

Whether one views the Anthropocene as beginning with the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, or with the agricultural revolution of 8,000 BCE, the era is rapidly approaching endgame. We are now witnessing the sixth great extinction event on Earth. The Northwest Passage is no longer a fantasy. The most recent sea-level rise projections, expressed in feet, soar to the double digits. Wild oceanic fisheries are projected to collapse within the next 35 years, just as the human need for protein doubles.

Shellfish aquaculture is widely recognized as one of the few sustainable options for marine protein production, even as oceans acidify, placing natural shellfish reproduction everywhere at risk. The US already faces a worsening shellfish deficit without the gratuitous destruction of over half of California’s production capacity.We cannot replace this resource without effectively stealing it from the mouths of others, though, to be sure, we have shown ourselves to be very good at that.

Arguments by opponents of the oyster farm, that its destruction is an environmental good, have been repeatedly exposed as without scientific merit. If Department of Interior policy is derived behind a smokescreen of distorted and falsified pseudoscience to fit political whims, the future of our public lands, already at dire risk from under funding, archaic management paradigms and rapidly advancing climate change, is dark indeed. If the National Environmental Policy Act can be manipulated by politics and ultimately ignored, as has been done repeatedly in the Drakes Bay tragedy, what recourse do we as citizens have in the ongoing effort to protect our environment against actual threats? And if the constitutional rights of the people of our state can be so easily bought and sold, what hope can there be for the emergence of a functional democracy in America?

I cannot help but wonder upon what planet those who have fought so diligently -and so obscenely- against the oyster farm, imagine themselves to be living. Earth, this planet, is in ecological crisis. A single species, ourselves, is claiming over half of the annual biological production for its own use, and fouling its land, water and air with total disregard for the limits of the global system upon which we are utterly dependent to absorb or purify any of it. Wilderness? We will be lucky to survive this century, and no amount of diddling with magic markers on a map will make a bit of difference to that calculus.

What might make a difference, what could make a difference, would be for us to wake up and recognize that we are part of this astonishing web of life, this vibrant blue sphere, this mote of dust in the sun. Our actions matter, for better or ill, as we choose. The oyster farm epitomizes the potential for our constructive, exuberant engagement with the full complexity of the living world. Perhaps this is why it cannot be allowed to stand by those who view mankind apart from that, who are incapable of imagining no role for our species but that of despoiler.

The discretionary elimination of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is but one more tragic, foolish, volitional step along our rapidly accelerating path to self-destruction. We have the capacity to build a world of abundance, but, thus far, have chosen another road.

 

Jeff Creque, PhD. of Petaluma, a Land Stewardship Consultant, is a specialist in agroecology and for many years worked on a ranch at Point Reyes National Seashore. 

11-13-14 Point Reyes Light & West Marin Citizen: Letter to the Editors: Our pledge request dashed

Letter to the editor:
Our pledge request dashed
Last week we asked Neal Desai of the National Park Conservation Association and Amy Trainer of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin to “take the pledge” to promise to the community that “neither I nor any organization I am a part of will ever participate in legal action to eliminate or restrict the ranches on Point Reyes.” We asked because in the late 1990s, Mr. Desai and his organization successfully sued the National Park Service based on the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act to get rid of a ranch on Santa Rosa Island. On Tuesday evening, Nita Vail, whose family was evicted from that ranch, spoke to the community, and cautioned us that what happened to her could happen here. Mr. Desai was in the audience. During the Q&A period, one of us asked Mr. Desai to take the pledge. His answer, which should be a wake up call to the community, was to say that such a request was “ridiculous.” That word makes the many others from Mr. De- sai and Ms. Trainer in support of agriculture just that—hollow words.
Corey Goodman and Peter Prows
Marshall and Oakland 

 

11-06-14 PRL: THE END OF AGRICULTURE ON POINT REYES

http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/end-agriculture-point-reyes

The park, the E.A.C., the N.P.C.A. and others have claimed they are not trying to get rid of the ranches. We are skeptical. If they mean what they say, then we ask Jon Jarvis, Neal Desai, Gordon Bennett, Amy Trainer and Jerry Meral to make the following pledge to the community: I promise that neither I nor any organization I am a part of will ever participate in legal action to eliminate or restrict the ranches on Point Reyes; and if such legal action is ever taken, I will do everything in my power to vigorously defend the ranches.

If they don’t take the pledge, watch out. Our ranches are about to disappear.

The end of agriculture on Point Reyes
By Corey Goodman and Peter Prows
11/06/2014
In 1962, a historic collaboration between environmentalists and agriculturalists led to the formation of the Point Reyes National Seashore. This, along with a new county plan and help from the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, preserved West Marin as a working landscape of beautiful ranches and rolling hills, and as a beacon for how to produce sustainable food while protecting the environment.

But today a new generation of activists and National Park Service officials view agriculture with antipathy. If that view prevails, the ranches on Point Reyes will go the way of the oyster company. We challenge those activists and officials to embrace what their predecessors supported: that agriculture and the environment can successfully collaborate. We call on them to pledge to oppose efforts already underway to run the ranchers out of the seashore.

It wasn’t always this way. In 1961, a representative of what is now the National Parks Conservation Association testified to the United States Senate in support of preserving ranching in Point Reyes: “the combination of dairy country and wild natural shoreland is part of the charm of Point Reyes, and we think the combination ought to be preserved.” The park lauded the “exceptional” public values provided by the oyster farm. In the 1970s, the founder of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Jerry Friedman, wrote to Congress supporting the continuation of the ranches and oyster farm—even in designated wilderness. The Sierra Club is on record saying much the same thing.

But in recent years these groups have flip-flopped as their leadership and priorities have changed. The park, under the direction of Jon Jarvis, led the charge to remove the oyster farm. The N.P.C.A. and its representative, Neal Desai, launched campaign-style national attacks on the oyster farm that were premised on falsehoods. The Sierra Club, initially under the direction of Gordon Bennett, did much the same.

Amy Trainer’s E.A.C. has seen its membership dwindle but its money and political influence grow as it ramped up attacks on agriculture, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Sacramento-based fund created by former Republican Governor Wilson’s undersecretary for resources. The E.A.C.’s only agricultural representative recently resigned in frustration, and rather than replace her with someone from the agricultural community to its board, the group brought in activist and political insider Jerry Meral.

Sadly, the closure of the oyster farm is not the end, but rather the beginning of the battle to protect agriculture on Point Reyes. We fear that in the next five years we will witness the end of agriculture, and with it the weakening of the ecosystem that supports farming and ranching throughout West Marin.

In coming to this conclusion, we have been good students of history, examining what happened at Cowboy Island, also known as Santa Rosa Island, in the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. There we found a blueprint.

Tim Setnicka, the former superintendent of Channel Islands National Park, warned our community two weeks ago that what happened at Cowboy Island was going to happen here. Nita Vail, the daughter of the ranching family that was kicked off the island, will speak next week, on Nov. 11, at West Marin School.

The Vails owned Cowboy Island and ranched on it for nearly 100 years. Congress recognized them as excellent stewards of the land. In creating the national park, the park service made a deal with the Vails in which the latter would be allowed to continue ranching for several decades. But then the park and its supporters started claiming cattle were polluting streams and harming endangered species in a national park area, using what Setnicka called dishonest science.

Ultimately, the N.P.C.A., with the help of the Center for Biological Diversity and a Santa Barbara environmental group, sued the park service, alleging the Vails were violating the federal Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. The park settled the case out of court, and as a result, evicted the Vails from the island.

What does this story teach us about Point Reyes? The parallels are unnerving. Both parks were set up as partnerships between agriculturalists and environmentalists. In both there has been a change in mindset away from agriculture. On Point Reyes, the park demonized the oyster farm with dishonest science. On Cowboy Island, the park used dishonest science to restrict ranching, while lawsuits by national environmental groups ultimately sealed the Vails’ fate.

Will our ranches go the way of the oyster farm and the Vails’ ranch? The warning signs are distressing. The park’s environmental impact statement on the oyster farm put a bulls-eye on the ranchers by identifying them as “the primary source of nonpoint-source pollution in Drakes Estero.” But the oysters clean the water by filtering the coliform bacteria, a benefit the National Academy of Sciences thought was significant. Once the oysters are gone, the estero will lose the beneficial filtering functions, and winter rains will lead to increasing coliform levels. Higher levels may invite opportunistic groups to file a Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act suit against the park, which will then be pressured to settle by evicting the ranchers.

And while the suit is pending, the ranchers will continue to compete with the out-of-control tule elk for scarce forage and water.

There is good reason to believe this is the plan. As Phyllis Faber has written in these pages, a few years ago, when Don Neubacher was superintendent, he told her the C.B.D. had just such a lawsuit ready to go as soon as the oysters were removed from Drakes Estero. Last year, Gordon Bennett invited River Watch and its leader Jack Silver into this community; Silver is notorious for filing frivolous Clean Water Act lawsuits, and has already filed such a suit against the oyster farm. The C.B.D. is taking the opportunity presented by the park’s new ranch-planning process to organize its national membership in opposition to ranching.

Just last month, a blog called Protect Our Shoreline News, which is supported by local activists, wrote that now we will get to find out if “… what matters is controlling what flows into the estuary.” Given the history of Cowboy Island, there is little doubt what that statement means.

The park, the E.A.C., the N.P.C.A. and others have claimed they are not trying to get rid of the ranches. We are skeptical. If they mean what they say, then we ask Jon Jarvis, Neal Desai, Gordon Bennett, Amy Trainer and Jerry Meral to make the following pledge to the community: I promise that neither I nor any organization I am a part of will ever participate in legal action to eliminate or restrict the ranches on Point Reyes; and if such legal action is ever taken, I will do everything in my power to vigorously defend the ranches.

If they don’t take the pledge, watch out. Our ranches are about to disappear.

Peter Prows is an attorney and partner with Briscoe Ivester & Bazel L.L.P. of San Francisco. Although he has represented Drakes Bay Oyster Company, he wrote this column in his personal capacity. Dr. Corey Goodman, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, is the scientist and West Marin rancher who discovered the misleading science used by the park and its supporters against the oyster farm.
Peter Prows
155 Sansome Street, Seventh Floor
San Francisco, California 94104
Direct: (415) 402-2708 Cell: (415) 994-8991

10-02-14 PRL: EAC Loses Only Agricultural Representative – felt ineffective in communicating needs of farmers and ranchers

Peter Martinelli, (board member from ’99 – ’07), …said there was a shift away from collaboration with agriculturalists  “… from agriculture and environmentalism working together and more towards a preservationist agenda…”

Environmental Action Committee loses agricultural representative

10/02/2014

The only board member of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin who works in agriculture resigned this month, believing she wasn’t filling the role in the way she set out to. “I felt that I wasn’t effective in communicating the needs of the farmers and the ranchers out here,” said Mimi Luebberman, who runs Windush Farm, where she raises sheep for wool on 26 acres in Chileno Valley. “I wasn’t meeting my own goals in communicating with people.”

Ms. Luebberman sat on the board for about three years. She declined to elaborate further on the reason for her resignation, simply saying, “I really respected my board members. It was an experience I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”

The E.A.C., founded in 1971, has long had an agriculturalist on its board, including Tomales dairyman Al Poncia and rancher Sonny Grossi in the 1990s. Peter Martinelli, who grows row crops on his 22-acre Fresh Run Farm in Bolinas, sat on the board from about 1999 to 2007. But he said there was a shift away from collaboration with agriculturalists during his tenure. “It tended to drift away from agriculture and environmentalism working together and more towards a preservationist agenda… I think I was decreasingly useful to that organization,” he said.

The E.A.C., has been involved in hot-button issues at the intersection of agriculture and conservation for decades. Recently it has sustained criticism by some members and former members for its position on Drakes Estero and Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The nonprofit has stridently opposed aquaculture in the waters, where oysters have been cultivated commercially since the 1930s but which was designated a marine wilderness in 2012 at the termination of the farm’s reservation of use.

At a public hearing in May, the nonprofit’s executive director, Amy Trainer, opposed provisions in an update to the county’s Local Coastal Program that excluded some agricultural housing from being appealable by the public to the California Coastal Commission, though ranchers and groups like the Marin County Farm Bureau said greater leeway for housing would help multiple generations live on the land.

Bridger Mitchell, the board president, said in an email that Ms. Luebberman “has been an articulate voice for matters concerning agriculture and education and a stalwart supporter of EAC events and I thank her for her service and dedication. EAC looks forward to continuing to engage with West Marin farmers and ranchers on agricultural and environmental issues of mutual concern.”

08-23-14 Marin IJ Hard-working oyster farm workers lost their jobs

Hard-working oyster farm workers lost their jobs

When I got back from Korea in the 1950s, I went to work for the previous owner of what is now Drakes Bay Oyster Co. I know my share of oyster farming, from seeding to sending oysters to market.

Watch out dairy ranchers and others out there, the transplant West Marin enviros now have you in their sights. They would rather look at tule elk, which are useless, than look at milk cows.

It’s pretty sad when your neighbors and locals write letters to the Marin IJ stating they are glad the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is being closed and 30-plus hard-working people are now without a job when they desparately need every penny they earn.

Our economy, that we all wish to would get better, is being kick backward due to too much governmental control.

Former Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar and enviros could not care less who they step on.

Most of the Washinton puppets and enviros don’t know an oysters from a chicken.

I am a born and raised West Marin native. I grew up in Inverness during the Depression.

The closing of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. should never have happened.

— Larry “Cheech” Giambastiani, San Rafael

08-21-14 GreenBiz wants examples of govt leaders actions to protect natural resources & my response

In a post today in Green Biz, Lizzie Needham, Associate Community Manager at GreenBiz Group, Top Contributor wrote

 

Dear GreenBiz Group Member,

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, deforestation accounts for 10 percent of global emissions—a big number when you consider that this equates to around 3.0 billion tons of CO2 per year. Tensie Whelan, President of the Rainforest Alliance, fights to reduce deforestation by advocating for biodiversity protection and sustainable agricultural systems.

In her recent GreenBiz interview, Whelan claims that we are seeing exponential progress, particularly within the business world, but crucial action still lags. Whelan’s interview also reminds us that while business cooperation makes a difference, impactful natural resource protection transformations rely on government support. You can read Whelan’s full interview here: http://grn.bz/1uYujYX

Do any members have unique or impressive examples of government leaders taking significant action to protect natural resources?

I responded:

  • I have an example of government doing exactly the opposite in removing Drakes Bay Oyster Farm from the Point Reyes National Seashore in California. The DOI, the NPS, and the CCC have committed their own style of deforestation by misinterpreting the law, re-writing history, and trampling California State’s Rights in so doing. Worse, the beacons of environmental preservation cannot see the forest for the trees in that they are now stating the opposite of their position in the establishment of the Point Reyes National Seashore in 1962, the opposite of their position in the passing of the Wilderness Act in 1976. Even the then PRNS Superintendent, Don Neubacher has done a 180 on his position in his letter Oakland Bank in 1998 where he stated he had every intention of continuing the oyster farm after it’s lease expired in 2012. It is as if they cannot see the forest for the trees! DBOC is a locally produced, sustainable, renewable source of protein production – 40% of CA oysters are produced there and they were the LAST oyster cannery in CA. Oyster Bay Wildlife Refuge on Long Island has a commercial oyster farm that produces 90% of New York’s oysters

    If then why not now?
    If there why not here in CA?

    There is still hope with the lawsuit filed by the other oyster companies and businesses in the area who depend on Drakes Bay Oysters to stay in business.

    For the legal documents, legitimate scientific reports and more go to http://www.OysterZone.org or http://savedrakesbay.com/core/

  • Oyster farming and wilderness are not mutually exclusive.

08-09-14 Marin IJ Voice: Beginning of a new chapter for the Lunny family

Marin Voice: Beginning of a new chapter for the Lunny family

By Kevin Lunny

 

Kevin Lunny (Special to the IJ/James Cacciatore)

Kevin Lunny (Special to the IJ/James Cacciatore)

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. has been an institution in Marin for nearly 100 years. First with the Johnson family, and for the last decade it has been the privilege of the Lunny family to continue that tradition.

Generations of Marin residents as well as other Northern California visitors have not only enjoyed our oysters but were able to come out to the farm, meet with our family and loyal employees, enjoy the outdoors and learn how oysters are grown and their benefit to the environment.

We provide our oysters to restaurants all over the Bay Area as part of the locally grown movement. We have been the last oyster cannery in the state of California.

Many of our 30 employees live at the farm. Some have worked here for nearly three decades. Their children have been born here, and today raise their own families here. They go to church with us. They are part of the fabric of our community.

We loved being part of the sustainable food business. We loved being good stewards of Drakes Estero. For us, the farm has been an integral part of what Marin is all about — the combination of sustainable, locally produced food while protecting the environment and maintaining the pastoral character of our community.

Oysters along with other shellfish once populated the shores of Drakes Estero, San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay and every other bay and estuary along the California coast. All were fished out or destroyed by pollution, which is why so many environmental groups are restoring oysters here and around the world. Our farmed oysters contribute to the health of the estero by filtering and clarifying the water. As the National Academy of Sciences reported, our estero is environmentally pristine, with one of the most lush eelgrass beds and a harbor seal population that has grown and reached what experts say is its peak carrying capacity.

The health of the estero has always been critically important to us because Point Reyes is our home. We grew up here. We are fourth-generation ranchers who today raise organic beef in an environmentally friendly way, being certified Salmon Safe. We will still be here — raising our children and our cattle — after the oyster farm is gone.

The overwhelming support of our Marin neighbors has enabled us to fight to continue our legitimate presence in Point Reyes. Without your support, we couldn’t have carried on in the face of such overwhelming adversity. Our siblings and children have grown up here, gone to school and church here, and are friends with the children of our long-time workers. The next generation of Lunnys was born just a few months ago.

We are grateful to all of our Marin friends for their support, patronage, kind words and belief in us.

We never expected that so many people would stand with us during this most challenging of times. Who could have imagined that we would drive around the county through forests of hand-painted signs supporting us, made by dozens of volunteers?

We have seen that our fight for truth and transparency in science was important to so many and they were ready to speak up for us. We will always carry with us our respect and appreciation for the values our community has expressed.

Thank you to all of you who believed in us and believed in our cause. You buoyed our spirits and gave us the strength to continue.

This may be the end of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., but it is the beginning of a new chapter for the Lunny family.

Kevin Lunny is the owner/operator of Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

08-15-14 WM Citizen: Why West Marin finds it difficult to heal

Why West Marin finds it difficult to heal

 Lack of respect major factor

It has come to the attention of the Citizen that the Environmental Action Committee of Point Reyes Station is sending out emails to its supporters asking them to begin a letter-writing campaign to three newspapers outside of West Marin. The request is to include in the letters the following points, and to send copies to Cicely Muldoon and Jon Jarvis.

  • There’s only one opportunity for a marine wilderness experience on the West Coast, and Congress was right to protect Drakes Estero for this purpose for all Americans to enjoy.
  • The closure of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is absolutely fair – a deal is a deal.
  • I am grateful for having the oyster shack closed, it is one huge step closer to realizing wilderness protection and management for Drakes Estero.
  • The American taxpayers purchased the oyster company in 1972 and have waited over 40 years to enjoy a wilderness experience as long-planned and paid for.
  • Drakes Estero is the ecological heart of Point Reyes National Seashore and should be protected from zooming motor boats, invasive species, marine vomit, and plastic debris litter.
  • DBOC is a scofflaw company that has thumbed its nose at the California Coastal Act for nearly ten years. It does not belong in our marine wilderness area.
  • DBOC was given written notice of the impending closure in late 2004 and the public is not responsible for its business decisions or resulting consequences.
  • DBOC has operated 20+ months rent free on our public lands and reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars. What has it done with that money for its employees?
  • Wilderness is rare and valuable and must be protected from private commercialization.
  • Humboldt Bay is accepting proposals for new oyster leases and DBOC can operate there, but this operation is not appropriate in a national park wilderness area.

 

Meanwhile, some 25 families face an uncertain future, families with young children in local schools, families that will find it nearly impossible to find housing or jobs where they have lived and worked for some time. Thousands of people have been deprived of a valued local resource which was accessible to all, not merely the elite. It appears cruel at this time to state that, “I am grateful for having the oyster shack closed” without taking into consideration the families who have been directly impacted.

As for the other points, most have been disputed in the lengthy campaign to discredit and attack a local well-respected family. It should be pointed out once again that the attacks began with the NPS accusing the Lunny’s of breaking Federal marine mammal protection laws (falsely) back in 2007, and led by the EAC, accusing our West Marin community of extreme right-wing interests, accusing the oyster farm of causing the marine vomit invasion (false), zooming motor boats (thousands of hours of filming and recording never proved this) and so on. An honest campaign would have gained respect, but instead falsehoods were utilized to further the quest, in the same manner our political campaigns are run.

The severe and often false accusations from NPS and environmental groups created and grew a grass-roots defense. This was a natural and logical response as it is difficult to continue turning the other cheek in response to attacks. This is what so many West Marin residents are angry over.

Having differing opinions on wilderness or sustainable non-polluting aquaculture is perfectly acceptable. The ugly methods used to further this dispute are not.

11-22-96 The Letter from Neubacher to the Bank of Oakland, attesting to the NPS’s intention to renew the lease.

If then, why not now?

 

“….As stated previously, the NPS would like the planned improvements to occur at Johnsons. In fact, the NPS has worked with Marin County planners to insure the facilities attain county approval. Moreover, the Park’s General Management Plan also approved the continued use of the oyster company operation at Johnson on Drakes Estero….”

Click on the link below to see a copy of the actual letter from then Superintendent Don Neubacher to the Bank of Oakland

 

1996-11-22 Neubacher ltr to Bank of Oakland

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