02-07-14 Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: Oh, Hey, the Keystone Pipeline Rocks!

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar:
Oh, Hey, the Keystone Pipeline Is Cool Now.

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: Oh, Hey, the Keystone Pipeline Rocks!

Look, Obama administration, if you don’t want to build the Keystone Pipeline, just come out and say so. Take the political lumps and get it over with. Enough of this perpetual “well, we just need to review it a few more months” limbo. To put the length of time of this review in perspective, when they first sought approval to build the pipeline, the fossils that make up the fossil fuel of the oil were still walking around.

And get a load of who’s endorsing the project now that he’s no longer in a position to help it come to fruition:

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in an interview Thursday his endorsement of construction of the Keystone oil sands pipeline comes after learning new information, including that the pipeline would not greatly increase carbon emissions.

Speaking at an energy conference in Texas earlier this week, Salazar said he supported the project.

He said he believed construction could “be done in a way that creates a win-win for energy and the environment.”

This is the first time Salazar, now a lawyer in the private sector, has endorsed the pipeline, which would carry crude from tar sands in Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

In 2012, Salazar hewed close to President Barack Obama’s position on the issue.

“My concerns about the Keystone pipeline are in line with the Obama Administration’s position on the issue. I feel that the president acted responsibly in rejecting the initial proposal on the grounds of environmental issues,” he said, according to media reports. “Until the guidelines for this project are significantly altered, the pipeline should not be constructed because of the potential risks it poses to the well being of U.S. citizens.”

Salazar insists that as interior secretary, he couldn’t influence the State Department’s review and approval process. But does he really expect us to believe that his vocal approval to his colleagues within the administration wouldn’t have changed anything?

This just handed to me from the Keystone supporters: Gee, thanks a heap for going out on that limb, Johnny-Come-Lately. Would you prefer a medal or a monument?

I’ll let the editorial board of the Washington Post lay out the reasons to build the Pipeline:

ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE drawn a line in the sand on the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s the wrong line in the wrong sand, far away from any realistic assessment of the merits — as yet another government analysis has confirmed. It’s past time for President Obama to set aside politics and resolve this bizarre distraction of an issue.

The State Department’s latest study — the product of more than five years of investigation — largely confirms the conclusions of previous assessments and those of many independent energy experts: Allowing the firm Trans­Canada to build Keystone XL, which would run across the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb., is unlikely to have significant effects on climate-change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because its construction, or its rejection, would not significantly affect the extraction of tar sands bitumen, an oil-like substance, in Alberta. Even if the president rejects Keystone XL and no other pipelines out of Alberta are built, the crude could still travel by rail and barge — with marginallyhigher greenhouse emissions and a higher likelihood of accident. One hundred eighty thousand barrels of Canadian crude already moves on train cars every day.

Here are the reasons to not build the pipeline:

  • Self-identified environmentalists hate oil companies.
  • Self-identified environmentalists really hate oil companies.

I can hear it now: “But Jim, what about if the oil pipeline leaks? What if it gets in the aquifers?” You know what you do if there’s a leak in an oil pipeline? You stop pumping the oil through the pipeline, and you drive out and you fix it. Sure, it’s messy, but the leak stays in one place. It’s a heck of a lot easier than heading out and putting a new hull on a sinking Exxon Valdez,on bobbling waves as all that oil chokes an ecosystem and the little fishies and seagulls.

Back to those self-identified environmentalists who really hate oil companies. They fume at the companies for providing a fuel that is absolutely essential to modern life. Vast majorities of those who denounce oil companies the loudest still use cars in one way or another. Even if you’re driving a Prius, that thing isn’t a hybrid of wind and solar. It still uses gasoline, depending on the circumstances. And even if you walk everywhere, you still go to the store and buy things that were delivered on a truck that uses gasoline.

This is one of the reasons those who don’t self-identify as environmentalists scoff and mock those who do, even if we like a lot of the same stuff the environmentalists do — clean water, clean air, clean beaches, open spaces, cute and cuddly endangered species, etc. Most of us grow up and recognize that there are always going to be trade-offs. If you put up a wind turbine, it’s going to kill some birds. (The only legal way to kill a bald eagle in the United States is with a wind turbine.)

When you see horrific oil spills like the Exxon Valdez or the BP Deepwater Horizon, it’s natural and justified to get really angry at the oil companies. Unleash the hordes of lawyers. Hold them accountable. But there’s no magic wand that makes us no longer need oil, not without fantastic breakthroughs and years and years to transition to newer fuels and sources of energy.

This is why the fuming about Keystone looks like such a pose; it’s not about what their efforts to prevent the Pipeline project actually do, it’s about broadcasting to the world how much they care.

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. 

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

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

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

My opinion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11-13-14 Point Reyes Light: Opinion by Dr. Laura Watt, Ranchers have “good cause for concern”

“Last week an opinion piece in this newspaper suggested that environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, might be gunning for the Point Reyes National Seashore’s dairy and beef ranches through the recent Ranch Comprehensive Management Planning process. The authors, and others who support the continuation of ranching, may have good cause for concern. This would not be the first time advocacy groups have used planning processes to target the leased ranches…”

Through actions and words, trust needs to be rebuilt at Point Reyes

By  Laura Watt11/13/2014

Last week an opinion piece in this newspaper suggested that environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, might be gunning for the Point Reyes National Seashore’s dairy and beef ranches through the recent Ranch Comprehensive Management Planning process. The authors, and others who support the continuation of ranching, may have good cause for concern.
This would not be the first time advocacy groups have used planning processes to target the leased ranches in efforts to steer management toward a greater emphasis on wilderness and wildlife. While current environmentalists may be far more supportive of sustaining agriculture at the seashore, there is a long history of opposition that they will need to overcome.
As early as 1971, only nine years after the seashore was first established, the National Parks Conservation Association wrote a “Wilderness and Master Plan” that called for designating nearly the entire peninsula as wilderness, shutting down all the working ranches at the time (many of which were still in private ownership). The association’s plan did not receive support from other wilderness advocates, who instead rallied behind a more moderate plan from the Sierra Club—but that was not the last time elimination of agriculture was proposed.
In 1997, under Superintendent Don Neubacher’s leadership, the seashore began the processes of updating its 1980 General Management Plan. A Notice of Intent was published in October, stating that “comments on the scoping of the proposed GMP/EIS should be received no later than January 31, 1998,” and that public scoping sessions would be announced. It went on to anticipate a draft in Spring 1999, and a final document in early 2000.
Oddly, the first comment letters actually pre-dated the notice; the earliest is stamped as received over a month before the request for comments was published. It was also a form letter, with text identical to, sometimes even down to the font type, at least 10 other letters, many of which came from out-of-state and all urging the same thing: that the National Park Service “not renew any grazing leases as they come due.”
A second form letter, longer and more subtly worded than the first, began appearing in letters in November 1999; one paragraph asserted that, “with 13 operating ranches, there are potential conflicts between natural and cultural resource management,” giving an example of “runoff from ranching harming salmon and steelhead runs and the water quality in Tomales Bay.” An identical sentence appeared in the N.P.C.A.’s official comment letter, suggesting the organization was likely the source of the text.
Several scoping meetings were held during the following months, but nothing more happened until a newsletter sent out in 2003 identified five management “concepts” as “preliminary ideas for the General Management Plan.” The concepts represented a range of vague approaches, each promising increased emphasis on a different area of management, from natural resources to visitor experience to sustainable agriculture. The language in several concepts implied that continuing agricultural uses at current levels, as a form of protecting cultural landscapes, was incompatible with natural resource preservation and restoration. Each proposed expansion of wilderness and natural areas came coupled with a reduction of working agriculture.
Public comment was invited, and a single scoping meeting was held on Jan. 14, 2004. Over 120 people crammed into the Red Barn, with more spilling out the doorway. A proposed “Concept Six” was published in the Light, suggesting the enhancement of cultural and natural resource restoration and preservation through sustainable agriculture, modeled on the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s “Countryside Initiative” plan. (I was one of the uncredited co-authors.) Concept Six received a good deal of support in scoping comments from local citizens, yet anti-ranching sentiments were once again expressed in a scoping letter sent by the Sierra Club Marin Group. Authored by Gordon Bennett, the organization’s letter demanded extensive scrutiny of agricultural operations at the seashore:
PRNS should prepare a list of all other National Park Service units that have grazing or oyster operations, whether those are permanent or temporary uses, and the extent of these uses in these units. We would also urge PRNS to commission an exhaustive legal analysis (including actual legislation, testimony before committees, floor statements, and committee reports) to see whether Congress intended existing beef, dairy and oyster operations to be permanent or temporary within the PRNS management areas … We urge that this legal analysis determine with a reasonable degree of certainty the extent to which there may exist any legal obligation on the Park Service to renew or extend leases for these existing agricultural or maricultural operations.
The letter went on to ponder whether Congress intended to allow diversified practices such as row-cropping; asked for numerous studies on habitat impacts of grazing; questioned the economic importance of agriculture locally; and finally argued that agriculture should indeed be phased out of the seashore.
The park service projected that a draft general plan would be available for public review in late 2005 or early 2006, but nothing was ever released. Seventeen years have now passed since the initial notice was published, and pressure appears to be building on the ranches once again. The very same day the park published a scoping report for this process, on Sept. 18, the Center for Biological Diversity sent out a detailed press release, trumpeting public support for a free-ranging tule elk herd and arguing that “grazing permits are a privilege and certainly not a free pass to try to dictate Park Service policy.” The C.B.D.’s press release also made veiled threats of legal action if the seashore takes any steps toward fencing or relocating elk in its efforts to assist ranchers being harmed by herds in the pastoral zone.
This kind of political pressure against the working ranches is clearly not new, and could seriously threaten the long-term viability of those operations. Supporters of maintaining the historic working landscape at Point Reyes, as intended by Congress when it first established the seashore, should be sure their voices are heard above the fray—and environmental groups genuinely interested in supporting the continuation of local agriculture must understand that the reasons for mistrust are real. While past deeds are not the only measure of present intentions, trust that there is not an agenda to push out the ranches needs to be rebuilt through actions in addition to words.
Dr. Laura A. Watt is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies and Planning and Sonoma State University, and is currently completing a book manuscript on the history of land management at Point Reyes National Seashore.

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

10-04-09 Point Reyes Light Editor Tess Elliott on Gordon Bennett’s trouble with the truth

I once shared a homemade Pugliese tart with Gordon Bennett in a Starbucks in San Francisco. We had been guests on a show on public radio, along with Kevin Lunny of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Bennett had made several claims that I knew were false. As we exited the sound room, I suggested we keep chatting, and over slices of pastry I had packed in my purse, I asked Bennett how he could lie on air.

Speaking on behalf of the Sierra Club, Bennett alleged that Lunny’s oyster farm was a menace to seals and eelgrass. Each of us knew these claims were debunked in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that the park had misrepresented its own data. There was no evidence supporting the claims that the park and Bennett had levied against Lunny for over two years. The academy report brought to light what many suspected: a campaign to portray the farm as a threat, and justify its closure.

Bennett made several confessions during our post-show chat. “The park knew it had no evidence when it made those charges,” he said, excusing his own malfeasance of lying to a 50,000-strong audience. He had also claimed that the Point Reyes Wilderness Act mandated the oyster farm’s removal in 2012. “You know the Wilderness Act says nothing about 2012,” I said. Again, Bennett acknowledged misleading listeners.

“If you know these claims are false, why don’t you remove them from your website?” I asked. “The other side spreads misinformation, too,” he replied. I shamed Bennett for attaching the Sierra Club’s name to his false claims. He replied that he did so as a buffer against lawsuit. “Why don’t you just tell the truth?” Lunny asked. “Then you won’t get sued.”

Bennett was quiet. I had an epiphany. This man, whose reckless behavior has shaped the Drakes Estero debate, does not hesitate to use the power of his title to mislead the public. For him, the end justifies the means. As he put it to me that day, wilderness is like a church. Bennett pursues his wilderness-church with religious zeal. When I wrote the article for The Nation I expected a response from Bennett–but the angry and libelous tone of his letter alarmed me. It is impossible to rebut the numerous false statements in this space, so I will pick only a few.

On May 5, the National Academy of Sciences announced that a Point Reyes National Seashore report “selectively presented, over-interpreted and misrepresented” studies of the oyster farm’s ecological effects. That day, Jon Jarvis told the press that he thanked the academy for agreeing with his conclusions. What on earth did he mean? The report explicitly dismissed his conclusions. Later I discovered that Jarvis had given the academy a corrected version of the park report, but had neglected to make this version public. The older versions of the report–each containing claims of harm–kept circulating, while the corrected version remained hidden. So Jarvis was pleased that the academy agreed with his secret retractions. But Jarvis did not stop there. “We agree with some conclusions in the academy report, and disagree with others,” he said. Everyone was confused. The academy had dismissed each of the park’s claims, and Jarvis’s only challenge was a tangential point that was not even in the academy’s charter, concerning whether or not native oysters existed in Drakes Estero and therefore influenced its historic baseline ecology. Jarvis said they did not. Yet the waterside shed where Lunny sells his oysters is a stone’s throw from a gigantic midden, a heap of shells left as proof that native peoples enjoyed the estero’s salty bounty.

In his letter, Bennett makes an outlandish reversal, claiming it is the academy–not the park service–that “selectively presented, over-interpreted and misrepresented” evidence. His proof? A two-page explanation written by a man with a math degree from the University of Pennsylvania that is so flawed it is laughable.

Meanwhile, he attacks Goodman, the biologist who uncovered the park service’s misuse of data. Bennett claims Goodman is not a biologist. In fact, Goodman graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a BS in biology, earned his PhD in zoology, with a specialty in neurobiology, from UC Berkeley, and was a tenured professor at both of those schools for twenty-five years. He is a former chair of the life sciences board for the National Academy of Sciences. Each of Goodman’s allegations was borne out by the academy’s report.

Readers must decide whether Bennett’s claims hold water. Readers must decide who is making ad hominem attacks. I have suggested that Jarvis, now approved by the Senate for directorship of the National Park Service, has shown disregard for science. His loyalty to the troops trumps his loyalty to the truth.

Tess Elliott

Bolinas, CA

Oct 4 2009 – 2:14pm

05-14-13 Russian River Times, John Hulls on Gorden Bennett’s troubles with telling the truth

What lies in Drake’s Estero

….The “smear Lunny” campaign began in the spring 2006 Sierra Club Yodeler magazine by Gordon Bennett, then Chair, Marin Chapter.  Even an internet review will show that much of the campaign against the Lunnys originated with one individual, plus the direct involvement of a then-retired major Sacramento political player, active in West Marin after leaving his job with a major environmental lobbying group under a cloud.

Anything beyond the most cursory examination would find multiple cases of hidden and misrepresented data, not to mention deliberately altered photographs used without permission, known false statements about endangered species and the creation of a new hypothesis of harm each time previous claims were discredited.

Oyster-farm opponents and NPS would have you believe that sound (violations of soundscape standards) is a major problem in the Estero, implying that the experts on the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel and the seal experts on the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) panel made a serious mistake in failing to identify sound as a major issue.  In their 2009 letter to the MMC, which lead to its investigation, Neil Desai of NPCA and Gordon Bennett, then of the Sierra Club, failed to even reference sound or raise the issue.

Gordon Bennett became involved in West Marin environmental activities after he sold his Westbrae Natural Foods business to the Hain Group in 1997. He unfortunately invested much of the proceeds with the infamous Bernie Madoff before becoming active in West Marin environmental issues. Bennett, in his role as Chair of the Marin County Sierra Club group, posted in an article in the Spring 2006 Sierra Club Yodeler, with false claims about criminal destruction of eelgrass, misleading claims invasive aquatic species, and distorted claims about marine debris (conveniently omitting DBOC’s clean-up efforts at Drakes Estero both on shore and in the Estero.)

Bennett is also the first author of the false claims that Lunny was obliged to vacate the lease by 2012.  (See Russian River Times “What Was the Deal?”)  Bennett appears to have become obsessed with eliminating the oyster company, filing multiple complaints with multiple government agencies, relying on convoluted ‘interpretation’ of documents.

The classic was a September 2009 letter from Bennett, as Sierra Club Marin Group Parks Chair, to multiple government agencies, claiming that DBOC was violating its NPS permit by illegally selling condiments in violation of his Special Use Permit, thus becoming a restaurant!  Locally, this became known as the “illegal catsup complaint”.

The letter was addressed to California Department of Fish and Game, Marin Department of Health Services, State Board of Equalization and Point Reyes National Seashore. Bennett bases his complaint on the one-letter difference in spelling between complimentary (i.e. given for free) and complementary (i.e. adding to something), ignoring the fact that DBOC, by the specific terms of its NPS permit, was legally allowed to sell the produce of the family’s adjoining ranch.  (The complaints about the shellfish are dealt with here.) This is just one example of Bennett poring over reams of documents in an attempt to find some supposed glitch in language or definition to cause trouble for the Lunnys.

Bennett’s LinkedIn page shows that he ceased to serve as a Sierra Club chairperson in March 2011. The Sierra Club has declined to made any statements regarding his removal, but Congressman Pete McCloskey, author of the endangered-species act and supporter of the oyster farm, informed the Russian River Times that he had been told by the executive director of the Sierra Club that Bennett had been ‘fired.’

Bennett resurfaced with Neil Desai of NPCA, co-signing an August 16 2011 complaint to the Coastal Commission, in which Bennett signs as President of Save Our Seashore. The letter makes unsubstantiated statements like”…their oyster operations within the Estero are considered unmanageable by many in the public”, and “chronic lateral channel inclusions which can include amongst other things, humans, boats and loud music, which can prevent seals from using what would otherwise be suitable habitat.” These are not ‘facts,’ but allegations, none of which were accurate.

Investigation of Bennett’s involvement leads to reports in the Nation of an amazingly revelatory discussion with Tess Elliot and Kevin Lunny, wherein Bennett candidly admits to lying. The conversation is included in letters to the editor about Elliot’s September 9, 2008 Nation article, entitled “Scientific Integrity Lost in America’s Parks” Here are the key excerpts:  “Bennett made several confessions during our post-show chat. (Listen to the KQED program with Senator Feinstein, Gordon Bennett, Tess Elliot and others here) “The park knew it had no evidence when it made those charges,” he said, excusing his own malfeasance of lying to a 50,000-strong audience. He had also claimed that the Point Reyes Wilderness Act mandated the oyster farm’s removal in 2012. “You know the Wilderness Act says nothing about 2012,” I said. Again, Bennett acknowledged misleading listeners. “If you know these claims are false, why don’t you remove them from your website?” I asked. “The other side spreads misinformation, too,” he replied. I shamed Bennett for attaching the Sierra Club’s name to his false claims. He replied that he did so as a buffer against lawsuit. 

Bennett’s LinkedIn page also claims that he has been President of Save Our Seashore, which he claims has existed since 1994, yet he has not released any information about to the public about the structure of his organization. Perhaps not coincidentally, Save Our Seashore is the name of an organization formed in 1994 by the late Peter Behr, one of the true founders of Point Reyes National Seashore, who did much in creation of the pastoral zone that protected the ranches and oyster farm and brought them into the park. Here is a 1969 TV interview with Behr regarding the Seashore, and on his views about environmental campaigning.

National Parks Conservation Association’s Neil Desai, is also a key player and founder of the SaveDrakesBay coalition website, since taken down and parked on GoDaddy.com, replaced with yet another site. His participation in the smear campaign was previouslydocumented in the Russian River Times, involving nationally released false statements, doctoring photographs and making allegations that he knew to be misleading.  Desai nationally distributed false information to deliberately distort public comments on the NPS EIS, authoring a notice that claimed four species at Drakes Estero, including the harbor seal, were endangered.  According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, a sister agency to NPS, none were endangered (or even threatened).

He has worked closely with Amy Trainer, current EAC director who replaced Fred Smith after the start of the anti-Lunny campaign who herself has originated many of the misleading statements, such as this recent patently false claim that the Lunnys are making millions from the oyster company.

That campaign in many ways resembles the worst of the California initiative politics. This is not surprising, given the involvement of Jerry Meral, whose LinkedIn page not only shows his role with EAC, but that he ‘managed’ the former EAC executive director, Fred Smith. It also displays his well-known relationship with other environmental groups, specifically his role as executive director of the Planning and Conservation League (PCL).  Meral resigned his position in 2002 after the defeat of Proposition 51. He then became active in local politics and with the EAC, contemporaneous with the start of their campaign against Drakes Estero.

 A blunt editorial in the December 5, 2002 Sacramento Bee documents Meral’s methods: finding a cause, assembling a coalition, claiming to be protecting the public’s rights, and logrolling the various factions involved while seeking funding to drive publicity and enact the deal.

The editorial closes: ”Meral always argued that the ends justified his means. But (in the case of Prop. 51) the voters weren’t buying. When the questionable means come to overshadow the ends, maybe it’s time to retire the method, too.”

When journalists fail to ask basic questions before reporting on a story based on press releases from advocacy groups, they do little to inform the public, and contribute greatly to polarization. Journalism is not sticking a microphone in someones face and reading press releases. It is facts, documents and history and informed questions. The job of journalism is to make sure it is not being spun, and to inform, not incite.  Tell the public the facts and what you have found out about ‘Who? What? When? Where? Why?’

Editors Note:

We are including in the on line version of the article the full text of the Elliot letter in the Nation, and would point out that the article and its letters, including those from then Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope and Dr. Laura Watt of Sonoma State, who wrote her PHD thesis on the working landscapes of Point Reyes, are well worth reading.  The editors removed Gordon Bennett’s response to Elliot because of factual errors.

 You may read all of the Russian River Times reporting on the estero here.

Nation Web Letter

I once shared a homemade Pugliese tart with Gordon Bennett in a Starbucks in San Francisco. We had been guests on a show on public radio, along with Kevin Lunny of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Bennett had made several claims that I knew were false. As we exited the sound room, I suggested we keep chatting, and over slices of pastry I had packed in my purse, I asked Bennett how he could lie on air.

Speaking on behalf of the Sierra Club, Bennett alleged that Lunny’s oyster farm was a menace to seals and eelgrass. Each of us knew these claims were debunked in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that the park had misrepresented its own data. There was no evidence supporting the claims that the park and Bennett had levied against Lunny for over two years. The academy report brought to light what many suspected: a campaign to portray the farm as a threat, and justify its closure.

Bennett made several confessions during our post-show chat. “The park knew it had no evidence when it made those charges,” he said, excusing his own malfeasance of lying to a 50,000-strong audience. He had also claimed that the Point Reyes Wilderness Act mandated the oyster farm’s removal in 2012. “You know the Wilderness Act says nothing about 2012,” I said. Again, Bennett acknowledged misleading listeners.

“If you know these claims are false, why don’t you remove them from your website?” I asked. “The other side spreads misinformation, too,” he replied. I shamed Bennett for attaching the Sierra Club’s name to his false claims. He replied that he did so as a buffer against lawsuit. “Why don’t you just tell the truth?” Lunny asked. “Then you won’t get sued.”

Bennett was quiet. I had an epiphany. This man, whose reckless behavior has shaped the Drakes Estero debate, does not hesitate to use the power of his title to mislead the public. For him, the end justifies the means. As he put it to me that day, wilderness is like a church. Bennett pursues his wilderness-church with religious zeal. When I wrote the article for The Nation I expected a response from Bennett–but the angry and libelous tone of his letter alarmed me. It is impossible to rebut the numerous false statements in this space, so I will pick only a few.

On May 5, the National Academy of Sciences announced that a Point Reyes National Seashore report “selectively presented, over-interpreted and misrepresented” studies of the oyster farm’s ecological effects. That day, Jon Jarvis told the press that he thanked the academy for agreeing with his conclusions. What on earth did he mean? The report explicitly dismissed his conclusions. Later I discovered that Jarvis had given the academy a corrected version of the park report, but had neglected to make this version public. The older versions of the report–each containing claims of harm–kept circulating, while the corrected version remained hidden. So Jarvis was pleased that the academy agreed with his secret retractions. But Jarvis did not stop there. “We agree with some conclusions in the academy report, and disagree with others,” he said. Everyone was confused. The academy had dismissed each of the park’s claims, and Jarvis’s only challenge was a tangential point that was not even in the academy’s charter, concerning whether or not native oysters existed in Drakes Estero and therefore influenced its historic baseline ecology. Jarvis said they did not. Yet the waterside shed where Lunny sells his oysters is a stone’s throw from a gigantic midden, a heap of shells left as proof that native peoples enjoyed the estero’s salty bounty.

In his letter, Bennett makes an outlandish reversal, claiming it is the academy–not the park service–that “selectively presented, over-interpreted and misrepresented” evidence. His proof? A two-page explanation written by a man with a math degree from the University of Pennsylvania that is so flawed it is laughable.

Meanwhile, he attacks Goodman, the biologist who uncovered the park service’s misuse of data. Bennett claims Goodman is not a biologist. In fact, Goodman graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a BS in biology, earned his PhD in zoology, with a specialty in neurobiology, from UC Berkeley, and was a tenured professor at both of those schools for twenty-five years. He is a former chair of the life sciences board for the National Academy of Sciences. Each of Goodman’s allegations was borne out by the academy’s report.

Readers must decide whether Bennett’s claims hold water. Readers must decide who is making ad hominem attacks. I have suggested that Jarvis, now approved by the Senate for directorship of the National Park Service, has shown disregard for science. His loyalty to the troops trumps his loyalty to the truth.

Tess Elliott

Bolinas, CA

Oct 4 2009 – 2:14pm

 

For the complete article, click on the link below

http://russianrivertimes.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/what-lies-in-drakes-estero/

07-24-14 PT Reyes Light: Park Mgmt Flip-Flopped on Lunny operation

Park management flip-flopped on Lunny operation

07/24/2014

In the July 17 Point Reyes Light, Gordon Bennett counters the letter to the community from the Lunny family (July 10). Bennett’s op-ed is full of half-truths and innuendo, and is disingenuous.

While the Lunnys were told fairly early on by park superintendent Don Neubacher that the park service did not intend to renew the lease in 2012, the lease DID have a renewal clause. Neubacher told me personally that the lease couldn’t be extended, so he lied to me. I’ve seen the original lease with the renewal clause. It isn’t particularly strong, but it’s there.

As the Lunnys described, Neubacher gave Kevin Lunny his blessing to take over the lease. But, he then wanted Lunny to sign a quitclaim ensuring that he would abandon the operation in 2012. Why? Because the lease could be renewed if the parties agreed. Lunny refused to sign under such duress.

I’m sure that Charlie Johnson was told, or certainly heard, that wilderness status wasn’t a problem. To make room for a Limantour Estero wilderness area he had reduced his lease area considerably already, and the remaining growing area was outside the wilderness zone, albeit in a “potential” wilderness that would become permanent if and when the aquaculture operations ever ceased. (By the way, the aquaculture lease, administered by CA Department of Fish and Wildlife—at that time called Fish and Game—runs until 2029. The 2012 NPS administered lease is only for the on-land facilities, and is entirely within the agricultural “Pastoral” zone.)

Charlie Johnson didn’t need a lawyer by 2003; he had been dead for some time by then. What puzzles me is that, not long before then, Don Neubacher was helping to plan a three-fold expansion of the oyster cannery with permanent facilities. I wrote a letter to the park service, warning them that expansion of the cannery ought not have commensurate increases in the oyster racks. Don had told me years before that nobody was going to try to put them out of business, but he and then the park service suddenly changed tune.

Johnson’s did not run a very good operation, in my opinion: they left a lot of trash around and struggled to keep the business going. The Lunnys were capable of cleaning the place up and running a great business. That’s exactly what they’ve done, despite continual harassment and legal maneuvers to prevent them from addressing the Coastal Commission’s Cease and Desist Orders that date to Johnson’s operations.

That Bennett points to the 2003-2005 document as proof that the park’s decision “was made on the basis of law and policy long before the scientific controversies broke out in 2007” is utter hyperbole. Bennett said during a meeting I attended in early 2005 that “it will be difficult to get rid of (Lunny) if he runs a good operation” and “we should make it so (Lunny) doesn’t want to (continue) beyond 2012.” I countered Bennett at that time, saying that “if Lunny is capable of cleaning up the place, shouldn’t we help him? And, why not let him run it longer if it is well run?” Instead of the loose business-as-usual attitudes under the Johnsons’ ownership, suddenly the park and supporters such as Bennett began their ardent campaign and made it extremely difficult to even repair a leaking roof.

While the Lunnys knew about the “decision,” it is fairly obvious that this decision was based on malleable behind-scene politics, not on hard science nor consideration of the defacto wilderness designation, and certainly not the grave effects on wildlife, and water and noise pollution (all subsequently disproved) that Bennett et al were crying about. So, Bennett is now saying that this crying, and the “science,” plus the meeting (which I was excluded from) he had with Secretary Salazar “did not drive Secretary Salazar’s decision on the oyster operation…nor will ranch-science claims mandate outcomes in the upcoming ranch planning process.” I recall that Bennett has repeatedly said he supports ranching in the pastoral zone.

It’s too bad we have lost an opportunity for the park service to work cooperatively with the people who have done far more to protect habitat values than the park service itself. We could have had public-educational working-with-habitat and habitat values demonstration, and science, instead of conservation myopia.

 

Ken Fox is a longtime Inverness resident and president of the Tomales Bay Association.

05-01-2014 Point Reyes Light: Circuit Court Denies EAC, NPCA, NRDC & SOS Appeal as Intervenors

Circuit court denies EAC appeal

05/01/2014

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed a lower court ruling denying a request by the Environmental Action Committee, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Save our Seashore to be named intervenors in federal litigation between Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the federal government. Outside parties can be designated as intervenors in a case if they can prove that their particular interests are not being properly represented; intervenors can file briefs as official parties and participate in hearings. The organizations argued that their interests were specifically focused on wilderness protection, whereas the federal government’s position was based on broader issues of the management of national parks. District court judges previously ruled that the groups’ arguments would be too similar to the federal government’s and would result in unnecessary paperwork, but said they could still participate as amici curaie. Although the Ninth Circuit affirmed that ruling, the circuit also ruled in September against Drakes Bay’s request for an emergency injunction to continue operations as it fights the park’s decision to remove the oyster farm, which is now appealing that decision to the Supreme Court.

02-13-12 US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Senators Vitter and Inhofe to Secretary Salazar:  “On three occasions in 2009, while the Jarvis nomination was being vetted, Dr. Corey Goodman, an elected NAS member, submitted three letters to you detailing a case of serial scientific misconduct by Jon Jarvis and NPS officials and scientists under his direct supervision…We are in possession of the three letters dates April 27, 2009, May 10, 2009 and May 16,2009. That a distinguished member of the NAS would need to send such letters of concern to you directly is distressing. Even more distressing is the fact that you have failed to respond.”

For the full statement click on this link:

http://1.usa.gov/zp1jfD

Letter from Senators Vitter and Inhofe to Salazar 02-13-12 http://1.usa.gov/wQIK4G

12-23-11 Nat’l Parks Traveler “Congress Wants NAS to Review Studies”

12-23-11 in the National Parks Traveler reports today on language inserted into an appropriations bill calling for the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate the [POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE’S] agency’s science. For the full article, click the link below.

12-23-11 NPT article “Congress Wants NAS to Review Studies at PRNS

12-18-11 Drakes Estero Oyster Farm a Natural Fit

12-18-2011 Gary P. Nabhan and Jeffrey A. Creque in SF Gate.com article”The intent guiding the Point Reyes National Seashore General Management Plan makes “potential wilderness, agriculture, ranching and mariculture all co-equal management objectives.” Tragically, for the past eight years, the Park Service has attempted to obfuscate the clear intent of Congress: to establish Point Reyes National Seashore as a cultural landscape where dairy farms, ranches and shellfish aquaculture would demonstrate to the American public that conservation and sustainable food production are indeed compatible.

The Park Service now asserts that the oyster farm is not compatible with wilderness and must be removed. Can memory loss within the Park Service be reversed? It can and must, given the Park Service’s near-decade of denial of the original operating instructions for Point Reyes National Seashore.”

For the full article Click this link: 12-18-2011 Drakes Bay Oyster Operation – a Natural Fit

12/10/2011 NorCal Oyster Farm Dispute Spreads to Capitol Hill

NorCal Oyster Farm Dispute Spreads to Capitol Hill

By JASON DEAREN Associated Press
POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, Calif. December 10, 2011 (AP)

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/norcal-oyster-farm-dispute-spreads-capitol-hill-15128432

12/10/2011 Former Assemblyman Says Original Legislation Favors Oyster Farm

12/10/2011

Marin Voice: Former assemblyman says original legislation favors oyster farm

By Bill Bagley
Guest op-ed column

Posted: 12/10/2011 05:50:00 AM PST

 http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_19512853

12-07-2011 University of Ca Agriculture & Natural Resources

On 12/07/2011 Ellie Rilla, Community Development Advisor and Lisa Bush, Agricultural Ombudsman with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension, Marin County sent the following letter to the Superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore and cc’d Senator Dianne Feinstein in support of the Oyster Farm.

UofC Extension 12-07-2011

12/08/2011 7700 letters – 47 States, 29 Countries in Support DBOC – Delivered to PRNS

12/08/2011 Drakes Bay Oyster Company Submits Comments to NPS EIS on behalf of 7,700 Seashore Visitors from 47 States and 29 Countries

 20111208 DBOC 7700 letters to PRNS

12/07/2011 Co-Founders of Marin Agricultural Land Trust Weigh In

“Marin County’s agriculture and open space, whether publicly or privately held, are inextricably interconnected. The balance is tenuous, and it’s not unfathomable that all of it—the park, open space, organic food, agritourism—could rapidly evaporate. Once Drake’s Bay Oyster Company gets forced out, there will be a clear road map for eliminating the rest of agriculture in the Point Reyes National Seashore. As the farming dominos fall, so will critical mass of agricultural infrastructure, making the future of Marin agriculture increasingly uncertain, putting at risk all of our hard-won gains. In short, productive farming is critical to preserving open space.”

For the full article, click on the link below:

http://www.michaelstraus.org/2011/12/06/ellen-oysters-and-agriculture/

The Twelve dEIS Comments (that you can make)

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

you can post multiple comments.

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

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

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

 

1

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

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

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

 

2

Potential impact on wildlife is not properly assessed.

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

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

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

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

 

3

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

The dEIS includes much discussion about special-status species

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

Environmental benefits are misrepresented and/or missing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5

Economic impacts are not adequately addressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6

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

Geographic parameters used throughout this chapter

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

Considered properly:

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

The analysis presented here is insufficient.

This section should be reformulated and corrected for the dEIS.

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

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

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

7

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

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

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

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

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

8

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

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

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

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

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

9

Existing management policies are not considered.

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

The existing management policies must be considered and addressed.

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

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

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

10

National aquaculture policies are ignored.

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

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

The dEIS should consider these policies.

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

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

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

11

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

12

 

DRAKES BAY OYSTER COMPANY SPECIAL USE PERMIT:

Collaborative Management Alternative

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Collaborative Management Alternative Respond to the dEIS on their Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

11/30/2011 Fighting Climate Change WITH OYSTERS!

The Coming Green Wave: Ocean Farming to Fight Climate Change

Excerpt (link below):

Oysters also absorb carbon, but their real talent is filtering nitrogen out of the water column. Nitrogen is the greenhouse gas you don’t pay attention to — it is nearly 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide, and according to the journal Nature, the second worst in terms of having already exceeded a maximum “planetary boundary.” Like carbon, nitrogen is an essential part of life — plants, animals, and bacteria all need it to survive — but too much has a devastating effect on our land and ocean ecosystems.

The main nitrogen polluter is agricultural fertilizer runoff. All told, the production of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides contributes more than one trillion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere globally each year. That’s the same amount of emissions that are generated by 88 million passenger cars each year.

Much of this nitrogen from fertilizers ends up in our oceans, where nitrogen is now 50 percent above normal levels. According to the journal Science, excess nitrogen “depletes essential oxygen levels in the water and has significant effects on climate, food production, and ecosystems all over the world.”

Oysters to the rescue. One oyster filters 30-50 gallons of water a day — and in the process filters nitrogen out of the water column. Recent work done by Roger Newell of the University of Maryland shows that a healthy oyster habitat can reduce total added nitrogen by up to 20 percent. A three-acre oyster farm filters out the equivalent nitrogen load produced by 35 coastal inhabitants (PDF).

http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/11/the-coming-green-wave-ocean-farming-to-fight-climate-change/248750/1/

ReTweet with #dboyster

11/22/2011 MMC Report and Appendix F

11-22-2011 MMC Drakes Estero Report Mariculture and Harbor Seals in Drakes Estero, California

We recommend you read Appendix F prior to reading the full report which can be summed up by the MMC statement on page iii of the Executive Summary here:

The Marine Mammal Commission believes that the data supporting the … analyses are scant and have been stretched to their limit. Nevertheless, the analyses in Becker et al. (2011) provide some support for the conclusion that harbor seal habitat-use patterns and mariculture activities in Drakes Estero are at least correlated. However, the data and analyses are not sufficient to demonstrate a causal relationship.

Appendix F appendix_f

MMC Report drakes_estero_report

 

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

 Report #1, 7 year 4 month study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Report #2

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

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

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

3.      No trends are detected….

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

 2005 San Diego Court Decision:

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

 

(Author’s comments:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

North America – 38% wilderness

Africa – 28% wilderness

Check it out

http://anse.rs/stG5Bv

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

2011-11-22 Analysis of MMC Report by Dr. Corey Goodman

Briefly, the following three points, as stated by Dr. Corey Goodman, sum up the MMC report.  

1. The NPS data are too thin, and too highly leveraged by a stochastic event in 2003, to be able to support the NPS correlation between harbor seals and oyster activity. Moreover, the NPS data are inadequate for MMC to affirm the NPS claim of a correlation between harbor seals and oyster activity.

2. What was called a long-term displacement OUT of Drakes Estero was actually a short-term displacement INTO Drakes Estero caused by events at Double Point. There is no evidence for long-term spatial displacement of seals and pups OUT of Drakes Estero that can be related to shellfish aquaculture.

3. The MMC mistakes could have been avoided had the MMC proceeded with their original open process rather than the insular closed process they conducted. Open dialogue, open discussion, and open exchange could have helped avoid these mistakes. Unfortunately, the closed process led to a flawed MMC Report.

For the Summary of MMC I and MMC II, click here: Summary of Analysis of MMC Reports I and II.CG&DL

For the Analysis of MMC Report I, click here: Analysis of MMC Report I. acceptance of NPS correlation.CG&DL

For the Analysis of MMC Report II, click here: Analysis of MMC Report II. rejection of Goodman.pdf models.CG&DL

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

11-16-11 Ca Historical Society – Reception Invitation

ClusterOfOysterShellsWednesday, November 16, 2011, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Oyster Farm Opening Reception

Free Event at the California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco
 
Join artist Evvy Eisen at the California Historical Society for a reception celebrating the new exhibit, Oyster Farm. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served. RSVP to 415.357.1848, ext. 229 or rsvp@calhist.org.

To see the photos click here: http://www.oysterfarmphotos.com/

ABC TV, 4 Years of Coverage of DBOC on “Assignment 7”, Ken Miguel Producer

ABC7, “Assignment 7” has been reporting on this story for over four years. Use this link to get to all their segments up to and including September 12, 2011

Video feed: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/assignment_7&id=8351748

12-31-05 Dr. Sarah Allen, Harbor Seal Annual Report 2005

Harbor Seal Report 2005

12-18-2007 Dr. Corey Goodman Letter to NAS

Dr Goodman to NAS 12-18-07

 

01-18-09 Dr. Corey Goodman Letter to NAS

Dr Goodman to NAS 01-18-09The 2009 Nat’l Academies of Sciences Report

02-03-09 DBOC Letter to NAS

DBOC letter to NAS 02-03-09

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