10-03-13 PRL Letter to Ed: THE EAC HAS BECOME UNRECOGNIZABLE

 Letters

 

The EAC has become unrecognizable

 

Dear Editor,

 

The Environmental Action Committee in recent years has morphed into to an organization unrecognizable from when I was a member, beginning in the late 70’s. At that time we worked hand in hand with the ranching community and I have fond memories of the partnership  to steward the land that was struck between our local farmers and us new arrivals from a more urban background.

 

We often had very different political views, but we treated each other for the most part with respect and politeness. After all, the ranching community was here before we were; most importantly, they were active partners in establishing the park and were a major contributor to the unique character of the West Marin we moved to.

 

The park would not have come into existence without the support of the ranchers when it was just a dream. It is outrageous for the EAC, led by Ms. Trainer, to turn around and bite the hand that feeds us all. What’s next? No renewal of dairy ranch leases?

 

 

Hobart Wright

Inverness Park

09-26-13 WMC Guest Column DBOC CORE of Sustainable Food, Champion Health/Diversity Estero

When I first learned about this conflict, I expected to be on the side of the Park Service. After learning more about the facts of the situation, I’m not. Despite my emotional attraction to the idea of “protecting” this beautiful area, I believe the Park Service has become locked into an outdated and overly rigid notion of wilderness. Worse still, in pursuit of its goals the agency has become a political bully and intentional purveyor of junk science, distorting regulatory requirements and ignoring the ongoing value of the oyster farm  to both the estero and the community. DBOC, in contrast, has emerged as a core player in the Bay Area sustainable food movement, and a champion of the diversity and health of the estero.

 

Guest column

Environmental Stewardship at Drakes Bay

 

By Sandor Schoichet

 

Growing up hiking and camping as a Boy Scout, I had the ethic of leaving campsites cleaner than you found them instilled in me at an early age. Attending college in the early 1970’s among the misty redwoods of UC Santa Cruz inspired my love of natural environments. Now I’ve become an a vid sailor, enjoying the San Francisco Bay and supporting conservation and restoration groups like BayKeepers.  I respond immediately and emotionally to calls for wilderness protection.

 

But I’m also a student of environmental thinkers like Stuart Brand, Bill McKibben, and Emma Marris, who from quite distinct perspectives all advocate a more active and nuanced engagement in environmental stewardship. I appreciate the chaos, change, interdependence, and serendipity behind the multi-layered beauty of nature, which includes us too.  The conventional preservationist strategy, trying to “save” small patches of “pristine wilderness” by putting fences around them, just isn’t always appropriate.

 

Nowhere is this clearer than in the long-running battle by the Park Service and its supporters to shut down Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) and return the estero to its “natural” state. Their vision of an estero frozen in time seems badly misguided, given that it’s surrounded by working cattle ranches, which the Park Service supports, and given that the National Seashore will continue to provide access for millions of visitors each year.

 

DBOC and its supporters point out that the original purpose of the 1970 Environmental Policy Act, under which the National Seashore was created, was “to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony.”  They argue for the appropriateness of a working landscape in which the filterfeeding  oysters have an active role maintaining  the environmental quality of the estero.

 

When I first learned about this conflict, I expected to be on the side of the Park Service. After learning more about the facts of the situation, I’m not. Despite my emotional attraction to the idea of “protecting” this beautiful area, I believe the Park Service has become locked into an outdated and overly rigid notion of wilderness. Worse still, in pursuit of its goals the agency has become a political bully and intentional purveyor of junk science, distorting regulatory requirements and ignoring the ongoing value of the oyster farm  to both the estero and the community. DBOC, in contrast, has emerged as a core player in the Bay Area sustainable food movement, and a champion of the diversity and health of the estero.

 

The Ninth Circuit ruled against DBOC on September 3. The Lunnys will appeal, citing the split decision. In a blistering dissent, Judge Watford wrote “all indications are that Congress viewed the oyster farm as a beneficial, pre-existing use, whose continuation was fully compatible with wilderness status.”

 

The visionaries who created Point Reyes Seashore realized that humans are part of our ever-changing world, and that we have an unavoidable responsibility to be effective stewards of the ecosystems we care about. Let’s hope the appeal is successful and the vision is upheld.

 

Sandor Schoichet is a management consultant working with biopharma and sustainability clients. He lives in San Rafael.

 

09-30-13 Natl Parks Traveller: POINT REYES has a BUMPER CROP OF SEALS!

Point Reyes National Seashore has had a bumper crop of seals this year.

Seal Production At Point Reyes

While the National Park Service has in the past claimed that the operations of an oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore were impacting harbor seals that use Drakes Estero, recent seal production numbers from the estero seem to indicate those impacts have been very, very good.

“The 2013 harbor seal monitoring season has now ended and it was a great year for the seals. During the pupping season, we recorded approximately 1,400 pups, which is one of the highest counts for Point Reyes,” the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Science and Learning staff noted in their Harbor Seal Monitoring Update for August. “…Drakes Estero had the highest count with 1,122 seals, followed closely by Double Point with 1,012 seals.”

Perhaps because the Park Service is in the middle of a legal battle with Drakes Bay Oyster Co. over the company’s use of Drakes Estero for farming oysters, a disclaimer to that report stresses that “(T)hese data and related graphics are not legal documents and are not intended to be used as such.”

 

Around The Parks: Wine Sales, Park Fees, Point Reyes Seals

Submitted by Kurt Repanshek on September 30, 2013 – 1:35am

 

A glance around the National Park System seems to show wine sales can benefit the parks, more and more user fees are being approved despite a five-year-old “moratorium” against them, and Point Reyes National Seashore has had a bumper crop of seals this year.

Wining in the Parks

We recently told you about the waiver National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis OKed for the National Park Foundation to work with the Adler Fells Winery to produce some national park-branded wines.

Well, whether you approve of the Park Service working with distillers to promote the parks or not, this agreement seems to be generating a nice tidy sum of money for the National Park Foundation. Through the first three months of the campaign, the Foundation has taken in about $25,000. Extrapolate that to four quarters, and you’ve got about $100,000 for the Foundation to invest back into the National Park System.

More And More Fee Increases

Some parks, however, are in such financial binds that they are seeking waivers to a five-year-old moratorium on higher user fees in the parks. Former Park Service Director Mary Bomar instituted the ban back in 2008 when the economy was really sour.

Since then, however, parks have felt the need to seek higher user fees to keep various programs running. At Great Smoky Mountains National Park there’s been a highly controversial move to require backcountry travelers to pay $4 per night, up to $20, for their treks.

More recently, Timpanogos Cave National Monument in Utah announced intentions to seek higher fees for cave tours, as is Wind Cave National Park, Pinnacles National Park in California wants to double its entrance fee, to $10, to expand its shuttle bus operations, and Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota has instituted a reservation and fee system for its backcountry campsites.

According to managers in the Park Service’s Recreation Fee Program, between 2008 and 2013 “38 parks increased expanded amenity fees and 10 parks increased entrance fees.”

Looking ahead to next year, 21 more units of the park system have gained the green light to at least discuss proposed fee increases with their stakeholders.

“Once civic engagement activities are completed the parks will forward the results and requests to the regional director,” Jane Anderson, the program’s deputy fee manager, said in an email. “If the regional director concurs those requests will be forwarded to the Washington Office for final approval by the (Park Service) Director.”

One possible justification for higher fees, she said, is that park user fees for such things as campgrounds and boat launches “undercut or compete negatively with local businesses.”

Seal Production At Point Reyes

While the National Park Service has in the past claimed that the operations of an oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore were impacting harbor seals that use Drakes Estero, recent seal production numbers from the estero seem to indicate those impacts have been very, very good.

“The 2013 harbor seal monitoring season has now ended and it was a great year for the seals. During the pupping season, we recorded approximately 1,400 pups, which is one of the highest counts for Point Reyes,” the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Science and Learning staff noted in their Harbor Seal Monitoring Update for August. “…Drakes Estero had the highest count with 1,122 seals, followed closely by Double Point with 1,012 seals.”

Perhaps because the Park Service is in the middle of a legal battle with Drakes Bay Oyster Co. over the company’s use of Drakes Estero for farming oysters, a disclaimer to that report stresses that “(T)hese data and related graphics are not legal documents and are not intended to be used as such.”

09-26-13 PRL Letter to Editor EAC must…find new…Executive Director, Trainer mocks EAC goals

From my reading of the Environmental Action Committee’s mission statement, posted on their website, the conduct of Executive Director Amy Trainer toward the Lunny family and Drakes Bay Oyster Company is clearly in conflict with the goals and objectives of the organization.

 

Ms. Trainer’s take-no-prisoners approach to problem solving in this long-standing debate has made an absolute mockery of these goals. Even now that the fate of DBOC is squarely in the hands of courts, her attempt to smear the Lunnys is stark evidence of how she has allowed her role to degenerate, without apology, into a personal vendetta.

 

If this is the kind of reprehensible conduct the EAC is proud to support, then the gaping wounds that have been opened in the hearts and minds of so many people in this community and beyond will only continue to fester. If it is not, then the EAC must take quick and decisive action to find new leadership for its executive position.

 

Point Reyes Light 09-26-13

Trainer mocks EAC goals

Dear Editor,

From my reading of the Environmental Action Committee’s mission statement, posted on their website, the conduct of Executive Director Amy Trainer toward the Lunny family and Drakes Bay Oyster Company is clearly in conflict with the goals and objectives of the organization.

Here are some examples: “EAC works for… the preservation of a rural, community spirit. EAC uses law, policy, science and education to: create a common ground of understanding and promote informed debate  and encourage and facilitate productive resolutions to land-use conflicts by working closely with those who own, manage and use West Marin lands.” Ms. Trainer’s take-no-prisoners approach to problem solving in this long-standing debate has made an absolute mockery of these goals. Even now that the fate of DBOC is squarely in the hands of courts, her attempt to smear the Lunnys is stark evidence of how she has allowed her role to degenerate, without apology, into a personal vendetta.

If this is the kind of reprehensible conduct the EAC is proud to support, then the gaping wounds that have been opened in the hearts and minds of so many people in this community and beyond will only continue to fester. If it is not, then the EAC must take quick and decisive action to find new leadership for its executive position.

Having gone all-in with Ms. Trainer in its wilderness-at-any-cost campaign, the EAC does not have an enviable task before it. This will be especially difficult in a small organization in which everyone knows each other; the bonds of association and friendship can cause a board of directors to put off making such a crucial but necessary decision. Even so, the longer they wait, the worse it will get for them and the greater community they are obliged to serve.

If the EAC has any hope of reclaiming its birthright as an organization dedicated to truth, scientific integrity and personal accountability in the pursuit of the goals and objectives as proclaimed by its founders, there is only one choice they can make.  And only when they find the courage to do  so can any real healing begin.

Bruce Mitchell

Inverness

09-26-13 PRL Letter to Editor: EAC must…find new…Executive Director, Trainer mocks EAC goals

CORRECTION: THIS LETTER IS FROM THE POINT REYES LIGHT, NOT THE WEST MARIN CITIZEN

 

From my reading of the Environmental Action Committee’s mission statement, posted on their website, the conduct of Executive Director Amy Trainer toward the Lunny family and Drakes Bay Oyster Company is clearly in conflict with the goals and objectives of the organization.

 

Ms. Trainer’s take-no-prisoners approach to problem solving in this long-standing debate has made an absolute mockery of these goals. Even now that the fate of DBOC is squarely in the hands of courts, her attempt to smear the Lunnys is stark evidence of how she has allowed her role to degenerate, without apology, into a personal vendetta.

 

If this is the kind of reprehensible conduct the EAC is proud to support, then the gaping wounds that have been opened in the hearts and minds of so many people in this community and beyond will only continue to fester. If it is not, then the EAC must take quick and decisive action to find new leadership for its executive position.

Trainer mocks EAC goals

Dear Editor,

From my reading of the Environmental Action Committee’s mission statement, posted on their website, the conduct of Executive Director Amy Trainer toward the Lunny family and Drakes Bay Oyster Company is clearly in conflict with the goals and objectives of the organization.

Here are some examples: “EAC works for… the preservation of a rural, community spirit. EAC uses law, policy, science and education to: create a common ground of understanding and promote informed debate  and encourage and facilitate productive resolutions to land-use conflicts by working closely with those who own, manage and use West Marin lands.” Ms. Trainer’s take-no-prisoners approach to problem solving in this long-standing debate has made an absolute mockery of these goals. Even now that the fate of DBOC is squarely in the hands of courts, her attempt to smear the Lunnys is stark evidence of how she has allowed her role to degenerate, without apology, into a personal vendetta.

If this is the kind of reprehensible conduct the EAC is proud to support, then the gaping wounds that have been opened in the hearts and minds of so many people in this community and beyond will only continue to fester. If it is not, then the EAC must take quick and decisive action to find new leadership for its executive position.

Having gone all-in with Ms. Trainer in its wilderness-at-any-cost campaign, the EAC does not have an enviable task before it. This will be especially difficult in a small organization in which everyone knows each other; the bonds of association and friendship can cause a board of directors to put off making such a crucial but necessary decision. Even so, the longer they wait, the worse it will get for them and the greater community they are obliged to serve.

If the EAC has any hope of reclaiming its birthright as an organization dedicated to truth, scientific integrity and personal accountability in the pursuit of the goals and objectives as proclaimed by its founders, there is only one choice they can make.  And only when they find the courage to do  so can any real healing begin.

Bruce Mitchell

Inverness

09-19-13: WMC: DUPLICITY – NPS gives no warranty … as to accuracy, reliability, completeness of data”

 

What a ray of sunshine the new NPS seal-count data provides. The latest report tells us that 2013 has been a great year for seals, with one of the highest counts ever for seal pups, and more seals in Drakes Estero than anywhere else in Point Reyes. That should alleviate the fears of anyone who might have gotten the impression that seals could be in danger from Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

 

…the Park Service’s seal-count report includes a disclaimer, saying that the data and related graphics “are not legal documents and are not intended to be used as such” and “The National Park Service gives no warranty, expressed or  implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of these data.” 

 

This disclaimer isn’t found on any previous science reports from the Park Service at Point Reyes.

 

 

 

 

Guest Column

Duplicity

 

By Sarah Rolph

 

What a ray of sunshine the new NPS seal-count data provides. The latest report tells us that 2013 has been a great year for seals, with one of the highest counts ever for seal pups, and more seals in Drakes Estero than anywhere else in Point Reyes. That should alleviate the fears of anyone who might have gotten the impression that seals could be in danger from Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

 

I was fascinated to see that the Park Service’s seal-count report includes a disclaimer, saying that the data and related graphics “are not legal documents and are not intended to be used as such” and “The National Park Service gives no warranty, expressed or  implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of these data.”

 

This disclaimer isn’t found on any previous science reports from the Park Service at Point Reyes. I find it ironic that they would offer it now, given the clear deficiencies of many of their scientific efforts.

 

For example, the one paper the Park Service clings to as purported evidence claims that the oyster farm disturbs seals. The paper by Park Service scientist Ben Becker doesn’t even claim to find anything more than a correlation.

 

If there’s one thing most of us learn about science, it’s that correlation does not imply causation. Seems like the Park Service ought to have put a disclaimer on the Becker paper.

 

They should probably put a disclaimer on the Park Service’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), too, since its claims about oyster-farm disturbance to seals are based largely on Becker. The EIS downplays that, pretending it has been sources by saying “the impact analysis in the EIS places emphasis on the data review, analysis, and interpretation of scientists in NAS (2009) and MMC (2011b).”

 

NAS (2009)? Isn’t that the report by the National Academy of Sciences that found fault with the Park Service data? Indeed it is. Checking the EIS to see what data review, analysis, or interpretation they included from that NAS review, I found exactly one sentence, and it’s very misleading: “Factors influencing the behavior of harbor seals within Drakes Estero have been reviewed by NAS (2009).”

 

NAS did indeed review those factors.  Here’s what they found:

 

“NPS selectively presents harbor seal survey data in Drakes Estero and over-interprets the disturbance data which are incomplete and non-representative of the full spectrum of disturbance activities in the Estero.” And: “…research that has been conducted within Drakes Estero cannot be used either to directly demonstrate any effects of the oyster farm on harbor seals or to demonstrate the absence of potential effects.”

 

So given that the Becker paper casts no light on the situation, and that NAS (2009) simply points out the scientific errors of the NPS, on what basis could the EIS possibly have found “long-term moderate adverse impacts on harbor seals due to the continuation of commercial shellfish operations”?

 

The only other thing cited in the EIS is the MMC report. Does it contain the evidence?

 

Seven independent seal scientists conducted the scientific analysis for the MMC study. One can read their full verbatim reports in Appendix F of the report.

 

It’s eye opening to do so, none of the scientists found the Becker paper convincing. Instead they point out that the design of the Becker study is entirely inappropriate for the issues it attempts to explore, and that everything that is known about harbor seals suggests that the concerns expressed by NPS about mariculture disturbing seals in Drakes Estero are unfounded. (Somehow, the executive summary of the MMC report manages to suggest otherwise, though just barely. It also suggests the Park Service continue funding MMC studies of the issue.)

 

The scientists on both the Academy panel and the MMC panel pointed out that the best way to learn whether the oyster farm operations disturbed seals would be with time-and-date-stamped photographs.  It must have been a shock to later learn that the Park Service had been capturing exactly that data since May of 2007, but chose not to disclose it.

 

It certainly bothered Brian Kingzett. Kingzett is Deep Bay Marine Field Station Manager at the Center for Shellfish Research, Vancouver Island University, and one of the seven scientists who served on the MMC panel. Kingzett reports, “The panel even suggested to the Parks Staff while on site above the Estero how easy it would be to put wildlife cameras on the Estero to resolve some of the questions. Staff looked at us and agreed that maybe it was an option worth considering. And they had cameras up the whole time. We then spent the rest of the week discussing the lack of any good data.”

 

NPS has falsified the record to further its own agenda. The duplicity extends further:  Interior is talking out of both sides of its mouth, claiming Secretary Salazar’s decision against the oyster farm was not based on the fraudulent EIS. And NPS is using that same EIS to argue in court against the oyster farm.

 

If left unchecked, this out-of-control Federal agency will destroy the livelihoods of dozens of people and eliminate a popular, historic, successful, and benign oyster farm.

 

And it will damage the California economy. The EIS itself clearly states that eliminating the oyster farm “could result in long-term, major, adverse impacts on California’s shellfish market.”  That is a feature of the Park Service’s “preferred alternative.”

 

The scientific credibility of the Park Service at Point Reyes is in shreds. No disclaimer can save it.

 

 

 

HERE IS THE NPS DISCLAIMER FROM THEIR HARBOR SEAL MONITORING UPDATE(S) 2013 AT http://www.sfnps.org/download_product/4301/0

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09-12-13 West Marin Citizen: DBOC case may rise to Supreme Court

As reprinted in today’s West Marin Citizen:

DBOC case may rise to Supreme Court
Transcribed and edited by Peggy Day

Last Monday afternoon the Farm and Foodshed Report, the KWMR radio program, provided some straight answers to very complicated questions about the Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s federal legal case. During the show, host Robin Carpenter interviewed DBOC attorney Peter S. Prows of Briscoe, Ivester and Bazel about the decision to request another hearing at the Ninth Circuit Court. Mr. Prows, who is experienced with the California Environmental Quality Act and Endangered Species Act, among other qualifications, explained why he believes that the oyster company may prevail in federal court.

Robin Carpenter:We invited representatives of the National Park Service and Department of the Interior to speak but unfortunately, the United States Government and Department of Justice do not speak about ongoing legal actions. Peter, can you give us an overview of the situation?

Peter Prows: By a two-to-one margin, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision affirming the District Court’s denial of a preliminary injunction to the oyster company. Judge Margaret McKeown, in agreement with a visiting judge from Ohio, wrote the majority opinion that the court essentially lacked jurisdiction to review the reasons given in an agency’s decision on a permit like this.

Carpenter: This is just one piece of the legal puzzle. The oyster company has asked for an injunction to stay in operation until the complete legal proceedings play out, correct?

Prows: It’s an important piece because, if the farm is forced to shut down while the lawsuit proceeds, that’s going to cause some real damage to the business, even if we’re ultimately successful. Legally it’s also important because to get a preliminary injunction, one of the things you have to show is that you are likely to prevail on the merits of the case. The majority didn’t think we were able to show that but Judge Paul Watford wrote the dissent and he was very strong. He thought we were likely to prevail on the merits of the case and former Secretary Salazar’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Carpenter: It’s not often that you see a dissent that’s so extremely strong.

Prows: It’s one of the strongest dissenting opinions I’ve ever read. What’s really remarkable is, going back to 2004, after the Lunnys spent a couple hundred thousand dollars to invest and fix up the oyster farm, they got a letter and a memo from the Park Service saying that the wilderness laws, in particular the 1976 Point Reyes Wilderness Act, mandated that the Park Service not issue a new permit to the oyster farm when the existing permit expired in November of 2012. This is a legal position that the Park Service has now taken over the last 8 to 10 years. It always struck the Lunnys as strange. They thought the Point Reyes National Seashore was set up to promote and preserve agriculture and aquaculture in West Marin, not to destroy it.

What’s remarkable about the dissent is that Judge Watford actually agrees with the Oyster company about the interpretation of the wilderness legislation for Point Reyes. He wrote: “All indications are that Congress viewed the oyster farm as a beneficial preexisting use whose continuation was fully compatible with wilderness status.” And, the most remarkable thing about this whole opinion is that the majority, the two judges who voted against the oyster farm, never actually disagreed with the dissent on the interpretation of the wilderness legislation. So, there’s really no question anymore that the Park Service has had the law wrong all along.

Carpenter: I was surprised that the majority was very vague. Watford’s interpretation agreed with what Bill Bagley and others who were there said.

Prows: That’s exactly right. Quite frankly, for 30 years before the Park Service’s memo to the Lunnys, that’s what everybody thought that legislation meant. The Department of Interior told Congress in the 1970’s that the oyster farm was a beneficial use there and should continue notwithstanding whatever wilderness legislation was passed. The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin told Congress essentially the same thing. The Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club had the same view. Everybody had the same view of what the law should accomplish and what the law meant. It wasn’t until 30 years later that the Park Service and some of these groups changed positions. Judge Watford called that a “bizarre” change of position.

We are planning to file for a rehearing. So, this case is not over.

Carpenter: What is happening, is that you guys are going a step above to the Ninth Circuit to say, we think the District Court wasn’t correct.

Prows: That’s right. There’s no longer any dispute that the Park Service has been misinterpreting the law for the last 10 years. As Watford says, “you can’t really argue otherwise with a straight face when you actually look at legislative history.” What the Park Service has put the Lunnys through for the last ten years is really a struggle against the Park Service’s misinterpretation of the law. So the question we are going to be presenting to the full en banc court is whether courts should stand aside even when they know agencies have the law wrong, even when an agency makes a decision based upon a fundamental misinterpretation of the law. Whether the courts have jurisdiction to step in or not. I think that’s a pretty important question.

Carpenter: People say, it’s very difficult to appeal with a governmental or administrative decision and Salazar’s decision is an administrative decision.

Prows: There’s what’s called the Administrative Procedures Act which requires agencies to make decisions in generally a rational way and prohibits agencies from making decisions that are quote “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion or are otherwise not in accordance with the law.” That usually should, at least in my view, prohibit an agency from denying you a permit for a reason that’s kind of absurd or just plain wrong in the law. When an agency tells you that it can’t give you a permit because the law and congress’s intent behind that law was that you shouldn’t get your permit, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the law and of your decision-making authority. If you read what Secretary Salazar wrote, he makes it very clear that he was trying to effectuate what he thought congressional intent was, what he thought the law meant. He thought the oyster farm had to go and that was wrong.

Carpenter: Is there another step beyond the en banc review?

Prows: If we don’t get the injunction from the en banc panel, we could petition for a Writ of Certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to decide to take the case for review. We have issues that could very well interest the Supreme Court.

08-25-13 Marin Voice: Up-to-date Eco Theory by Dr. J. Creque

Yet efforts now underway to restore oysters to San Francisco Bay, and estuaries around the world, offer pertinent examples of how shellfish, as ecosystem engineers, can improve water quality, add to structural diversity in the estuarine system, and play a critical role in enhancing ecosystem biodiversity, productivity, and resilience.

 

Aldo Leopold once argued that the first rule of intelligent tinkering was to save all the pieces. Saving the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is one simple, sane step in that direction.

 

 

Marin News

 

Marin Voice: Up-to-date ecological theory

By Jeff Creque
Guest op-ed column

Posted:   08/25/2013 06:00:00 PM PDT

IN HIS July 31 Marin Voice column in favor of elimination of the Drakes Bay oyster farm, Joe Mueller nicely articulates the fundamental misunderstanding of ecosystem dynamics underlying his argument.

With all due respect for the linear dynamics assumed and espoused by Mr. Mueller (after all, most of us who received our early ecological training in the ’60s and ’70s were taught within that framework), that view of ecosystem dynamics is both outdated and, quite frankly, wrong.

Mueller evokes closed system dynamics to support his argument that carbon and nutrients are limited, and limiting, within the estero. But modern ecosystem theory recognizes entirely different dynamics in open systems, of which Drakes Estero is an archetypical example.

Indeed, open to inputs from both sky and sea, the estero, rather than being limited by a fixed quantity of energy and nutrients, has essentially an unlimited capacity for self-organized complexity, including enormous biomass production and biodiversity potential.

That same misunderstanding of ecosystem dynamics underlies the 19th-century “human-free wilderness” convictions of those opposing Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s longstanding lease on the premise of “protecting pristine wilderness.”

Under that archaic paradigm, any human involvement with the imagined “wild” is necessarily negative.

It is impossible, within that outmoded framework, to conceive of ecosystem complexity and productivity increasing under enlightened management.

Yet efforts now underway to restore oysters to San Francisco Bay, and estuaries around the world, offer pertinent examples of how shellfish, as ecosystem engineers, can improve water quality, add to structural diversity in the estuarine system, and play a critical role in enhancing ecosystem biodiversity, productivity, and resilience.

No one is arguing against protecting the ecology of Drakes Estero. But the estero does not, contrary to Mueller’s argument, exist in isolation.

Titular designation as “wilderness” will not “protect” it from rising sea levels, acidifying ocean waters, climate destabilization or the broader global catastrophe unfolding around us.

With over seven billion (and counting) human mouths to be fed, the oyster farm, by offering a truly sustainable alternative to non-sustainable sources of marine protein, is an essential part of the solution to the over-exploitation of global resources that Mueller so properly laments.

Once upon a time, the heroics of wilderness protectionism served to bring awareness of the fundamental importance of the environment to a culture divorced from the dynamics of life on our small planet.

It drove the formation of the National Park System and helped stay the avarice and ignorance of human chauvinism.

But in the end, it is not enough. In fact, it is lousy ecology and cannot serve necessity in a time of unprecedented global change.

If Mueller and others opposing sustainable shellfish aquaculture in Drakes Estero would make the effort to understand the complex, self-organizing dynamics of this living, open system — and, indeed, of the Earth herself — we could begin to move beyond the dangerously constrained limits of the current debate toward the realization of a truly dynamic, productive and sustainable future for our community and our beleaguered planet.

Aldo Leopold once argued that the first rule of intelligent tinkering was to save all the pieces. Saving the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is one simple, sane step in that direction.

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

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Updated: August 25, 2013

 

Copyright © 2013 Marin Independent Journal

08-17-13 Marin IJ, Bill Bagley, author ’65 Assembly Bill 1024 CA reserved right to fish

“…there are two leases …. the now cancelled but litigated federal dry land lease used for processing and, separately, the existing and possibly controlling [CA] State Fish and Game Commission oyster lease authorizing the actual planting and harvesting of this seafood in the waters of Drakes Estero….

 

In 1965, I authored Assembly Bill 1024 to transfer the state-owned Point Reyes tidelands to the Park Service but, pursuant to state constitutional authority, we “reserved to the state the right to fish.

 

By statute, oysters are fish.”

 

 

Letters to the Editor

 
 

 

   
 
Marin Readers’ Forum for Aug. 17

From Marin Independent Journal readers

Posted:   08/16/2013 06:12:00 PM PDT

environment

State holds lease, too

Let me try to clarify the confusion and frustration which some readers suffer when noting the contentious articles and letters regarding the National Park Service lease with the Point Reyes oyster farm.

In fact, there are two leases and a seeming conflict between them. There is the now cancelled but litigated federal dry land lease used for processing and, separately, the existing and possibly controlling state Fish and Game Commission oyster lease authorizing the actual planting and harvesting of this seafood in the waters of Drakes Estero.

In 1965, I authored Assembly Bill 1024 to transfer the state-owned Point Reyes tidelands to the Park Service but, pursuant to state constitutional authority, we “reserved to the state the right to fish.”

By statute, oysters are fish.

Since 1965 the Park Service recognized that right as it was continuously exercised by the Fish and Game Commission for these almost 50 years. After appearing at a commission meeting, this authoritative letter was written, dated July 11, 2012, to then-Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar.

Letter states: “Let it be known that: The Commission, in the proper exercise of its jurisdiction, supports and continues to support the agricultural business of aquaculture, and to that end, has clearly authorized the shellfish cultivation in Drakes Estero through at least 2029 through the lease granted Drakes Bay Oyster Company.”

The state continues to receive its set fee from the Lunny family for this authorized and state-controlled oyster propagation.

There are five lawyers from separate law firms now providing various pro bono legal services to obtain court clarification and thus to help this small local oyster company continue to produce a pure, natural and sustainable food product for all to enjoy.

About that, there is no confusion.

William T. Bagley, San Rafael

 

08-18-13 AMY TRAINER / EAC linked to ATTEMPT TO SMEAR DBOC WITH FALSE STORY

Last Tuesday, a seven-paragraph “article” was published by a New York internet-based group called Food World News (see below), declaring that the CA State Health Department ordered a recall of  DBOC oysters

 

After it appeared on the internet (and to find out what was going on), Kevin Lunny was immediately contacted and so was Sarah Rolph, and he immediately contacted Ginny Cummings, the oyster farm manager, who in turn, then immediately contacted the State Health Department. 

 

All were stunnedThere was no recallThere was no shut-downNo one got ill.  Health Department officials knew nothing about it. No warning against was issuedDBOC does not sell oysters to the Wegmans chain (on East Coast).

 The Reporter at Food World News claimed the story was triggered by a “Google Alert” which no one at DBOC received and so far, notwithstanding daily requests, the editor and reporter at Food World News have refused to provide.

 

Within a short time, EAC Executive Director, Amy Trainer, “tweeted” (under the name “ProtectPtReyes” that DBOC oysters “ma(k)ing us sick.”  After a demand from DBOC representatives, Trainer’s reckless statement was taken down.

 

There is no nice way to say or explain this:  Whatever the explanation, THIS WAS A SMEAR.  This was an attempt to undermine DBOC’s ability to conduct business.  This was an effort to drag the Lunny name through the gutter.  To declare it “disgusting” is a polite description

 

The highly respected Food Safety News (not to be confused with Food World News), as soon as they learned of the bogus story, conducted their own review and this am, published an editorial on-line repudiating the Food World News report. 

 

Below – the Food Safety News Editorial, the Food World News (False) Story and the Amy Trainer Tweet.

 

 

 

 

From the Food Safety News Editorial.

The Food World News story was entirely false.

The California Department of Public Health did not issue a warning, there was no recall of Drakes Bay oysters, nobody was sickened by Drakes Bay oysters, and Drakes Bay has never sold an oyster directly or through any broker to Wegman’s.  

Any company wrongly named in such a story can be expected to push back, but Drakes Bay is involved in a life and death struggle with the U.S. Department of Interior and California Coastal Commission, which is apparently in cahoots with some of the largest environmental groups who want it shut down. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has an anger management problem,  refused to renew its lease just before he resigned.

However, many conservationists and environmentalists from the region, including those who originally called for protection of the estuary, see a place for the oyster business and support another long-term lease for Drakes Bay.

 

Food Safety News

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/08/letter-from-the-editor-14/#.UhBuZeCABSU

Letter From The Editor: False Story Was NOT Ours!

By Dan Flynn | August 18, 2013

Opinion

Food Safety News is often named as a trusted source by other media, which adds to our credibility as a valued asset. Anything that devalues our credibility concerns us greatly. We experienced one of those devaluing events this week.

Two Food Safety News stories which were published almost one year apart — and had nothing to do with one another except that both dealt with oysters — were mangled together with others by a news website previously unknown to us called “Food World News.”

In their story, written by a newly minted reporter, the New York-based news site reported on Aug. 13, 2013  that: “The state Department of Public Health issued a warning against the largest oyster producer in California on Friday, after three people’s illnesses was linked back to oysters, according to Food Safety News.

It went on to say the oysters were from the Drakes Bay Oyster Company and included information from both the Huffington Post and the Oakland Tribune, before again citing Food Safety News for reporting the Drakes Bay oysters were sold in Wegmans stores between July 13 and Aug. 5, 2013.

The Food World News story was entirely false.

The California Department of Public Health did not issue a warning, there was no recall of Drakes Bay oysters, nobody was sickened by Drakes Bay oysters, and Drakes Bay has never sold an oyster directly or through any broker to Wegman’s.  “Oyster Recall: Drakes Bay Oyster Linked to Bacteria Illnesses; Shellfish Sold from Wegmans,” by Food World News was entirely taken down by the website after folks working for Drakes Bay filed their objections.

Any company wrongly named in such a story can be expected to push back, but Drakes Bay is involved in a life and death struggle with the U.S. Department of Interior and California Coastal Commission, which is apparently in cahoots with some of the largest environmental groups who want it shut down. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has an anger management problem,  refused to renew its lease just before he resigned.

However, many conservationists and environmentalists from the region, including those who originally called for protection of the estuary, see a place for the oyster business and support another long-term lease for Drakes Bay. The struggle has gone on for a long time and with the government side, especially the National Park Service, being charged by Drakes Bay with running what amounts to  disinformation campaign. They have not said this is part of that, but Drakes Bay is trying to get to the bottom of this one.

When you drop a false story into this sort of mix and it is immediately tweeted by the opposition, you can at least understand why the Drakes Bay folks might be a little paranoid. Big forces really are out to get them.

Still, in trying to piece this together on my own, I’ve come to the conclusion that the most likely explanation for what happened was a few missteps by the newbie reporter.

First, last Saturday (Aug 10), Food Safety News did report on the recall of Cape Neddick/Blue Point oysters by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture for possible Vibrio contamination. The oysters were sold at Wegmans stores, between July 13 and Aug 5, 2013.

Second, the trigger for doing their story, according to what little the Drakes Bay people have been able to get out of Food World News, was a Google alert. Nobody else has seen it, but it’s possible.  Every once in a while, old stories show up as new on Google alerts, usually due to some change, even very minor ones. As a result, we always check dates and time stamps, but it’s possible to be fooled.

And, third, there was a warning about a few lots of Drakes Bay oysters sent out by the CDPH last year at the very time in question (Aug. 13, 2012). If one those reports was recycled on its anniversary date, and an inexperienced reporter then went looking for what else was available on the same subject, a mess of a story could be the result.

And a mess it was. Just not ours.

© Food Safety News

 

 

THE FALSE STORY

 

Aug 13, 2013 Last Updated: 15:37 PM EDT

Oyster Recall: Drakes Bay Oyster Linked to Bacteria Illness; Shellfish Sold From Wegmans

Aug 13, 2013 03:12 PM EDT | By Dina Exil

The state Department of Public Health issued a warning against the largest oyster producer in California. (Photo : Flickr / ganesha.isis)

The state Department of Public Health issued a warning against the largest oyster producer in California on Friday, after three people’s illness was linked back to oysters, according to Food Safety News. 

The oysters are from Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which has shut down all operations after being notified by the Health Department that its oysters may be contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a naturally occurring bacterium that can cause serious illness, the company’s manager Ginny Cummings told the Oakland Tribune.

After eating in separate San Francisco restaurants last month, three people reportedly began feeling ill and one reportedly had to be hospitalized. When consumed raw, the oysters pose a health threat, particularly to individuals with compromised immune systems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 4,000 cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection occur in the United States every year. Symptoms of infection include watery diarrhea, often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion. Illness is usually self-limited and lasts three days. 

According to the Huffington Post, medical officials have not reported any other illness. Oysters supply almost 40 percent of California’s shellfish. 

“As a family business, we’re doing the best we can do under the circumstances, which is a waiting game at this point,” Cummings said, according to the Tribune. “We’re working hand-in-hand with the health department on this. Our biggest concern is that people are healthy.”

According to Food Safety News, the recalled oysters were sold in Wegmans seafood departments between July 13, 2013 and August 5, 2013. They may also have been sold in Wegmans restaurants, Food Bars and Pubs. 

A complete list of the recalled products and photos of the shellfish tags and labeling is on the department of public health website

 

THE AMY TRAINER, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION COMMITTEE, “DRAKESBAYOYSTER MA(K)ING US SICK” & CaPublicHealth “SHUTS DBOC DOWN” TWEET

 

Amy, On Tuesday August 13, 2013, on twitter saying CDPH has shut DBOC down:

 

“Oysters from @drakesbayoyster ma(k)ing us sick @CaPublicHealth shuts DBOC down”. 

 

Trainer “Tweets” under the handle “ProtectPTReyes”.

 

 

 

08-07-13 DBOC Files to have court affirm decision denying intervention by EAC

DBOC vs EAC filing 08-07-13

Some excerpts from the introduction in the filing:

“Environmental Action Committee of West Marin et al. (the “Proposed Intervenors”) cannot meet the applicable standard for intervention….”

“They cannot make a “very compelling showing” that their interests are not adequately represented by the Federal Defendants, because for the past forty years they have marched in lock step with the Federal Defendants. In the 1970s both took the position that the oyster farm should continue in operation despite the passage of the Wilderness Act. Recently they both changed positions together, and today both insist that the oyster farm must go.”

 

“The Proposed Intervenors now say that DBOC’s commercial operations during the wind-down period are prohibited by the 1964 Wilderness Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1131-1136. But the Proposed Intervenors said exactly the opposite in the district court when DBOC argued that its commercial activities prevented Drakes Estero from being converted from “potential wilderness” to “designated wilderness.” In the briefing on that issue, the Proposed Intervenors stood shoulder to shoulder with the Federal Defendants: both asserted that DBOC’s continuing operations are not “commercial” operations prohibited by the 1964 Wilderness Act.”

“The Federal Defendants and Proposed Intervenors have coordinated their briefing in opposition to DBOC. In briefs filed the same day, the Federal Defendants cited to declarations filed by the Proposed Intervenors, and the Proposed Intervenors cited to declarations filed by the Federal Defendants.”

“The Proposed Intervenors are now even more closely linked to the Federal Defendants, because defendant Secretary of the Interior Jewell was, until she became Secretary, a member of the Board of Trustees of one of the Proposed Intervenors.”

“The requirement that proposed intervenors make a “very compelling showing” was plainly designed for situations exactly like this, in which private organizations want to cheer on a federal agency that has been sued over an administrative decision those organizations support. Here, the Proposed Intervenors undoubtedly want to cheer the Federal Defendants on, but they are unable to make a showing, much less a “very compelling showing,” that they have significantly different interests.”

“If the Proposed Intervenors do not need to make a “very compelling showing,” what standard applies? According to the Proposed Intervenors, this Court should evaluate their compliance with three sub-factors, of which the first is the likelihood that a proposed intervenor will make arguments not made by the parties. But the Proposed Intervenors fail to meet that standard as well because they have not identified a single argument that they would make in the litigation that the Federal Defendants will not make.”
“If there is any difference between the Proposed Intervenors and the Federal Defendants, it is a mere difference in litigation tactics, and that is certainly not a “very compelling showing” that the Federal Defendants do not adequately represent the interests of the Proposed Intervenors.”
“The trial court’s decision denying intervention should be affirmed.”

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

PRNS wilderness hearings senate 1976

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

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

page 356

  •  Jerry Friedman

    • Representative of :

      • ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION COMMITTEE OF WEST MARIN

      • Marin Conservation League

      • Tomales Bay Association

      • Inverness Association

      • League of Women Voters

      • Bay Area Organizations:

        • Environmental Forum, Marin & Sonoma branches

        • Assemblyman Michael Wornum

    • Chairman of the Marin County Planning Commission

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

    • Resident of West Marin

(continued at the top of page 357:)

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

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

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

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

Page 358:

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

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

 

 

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

 

Statement of Frank C. Boerger,

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

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

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

DESCRIPTION OF THE RECOMMENDED WILDERNESS AREA

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

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

NONCONFORMING USES

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

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

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

NOTE:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Drakes requests reconsideration

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

By Marinscope staff | 0 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EAC on wilderness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(continued at the top of page 357:)

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

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

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

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

Page 358:

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

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

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

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

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

Why I Am Resigning from EAC and the Sierra Club

By Bill Wigert

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Marin News

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

By Corey Goodman
Guest op-ed column

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

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

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

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

• “Thousands of roaring motorboat trips.”

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

• “Artificial modification through invasive species.”

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

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

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

• “Marine mammal disturbances.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Egregious Record of Outrageous Accusations

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

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

These statements are false and misleading.

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

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

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

No permit is required from the EPA.

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

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

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

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

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

–Sarah Rolph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to see the sign for the office of EAC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

EAC has lost our respect

 

Dear Editor,

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Barrett

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

Inverness

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

 

Drakes Bay Oyster Files Motion Correcting

False Statements by Coastal Commission

California Coastal Commission Misrepresented Facts to Marin County Court

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

program.

 

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

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

farm.

 

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

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

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

 

 

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@DrakesBayOyster.

–30–

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

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

The Coastal Commission accused DBOC of

(a) harming the ecosystem;

(b) exceeding production limits;

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

(d) “throwing” garbage into the Estero. 

The CCC misled the Court.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

According to Kevin, as quoted in the press release:

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Ames and his editor posted a response:

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

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

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

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

Here is the Post from Point Reyes Seashore Lover

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

 

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

 

 

 

Here is the complete article beginning with an excerpt:

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

 

Controversy — July 26, 2013, 4:22 pm

The West Coast Oyster War

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

By Michael Ames

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Controversy — July 26, 2013, 4:22 pm

The West Coast Oyster War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 

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

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

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

18 July 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

russianrivertimes

 

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

Posted on July 17, 2013 by russianrivertimes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

RALLY IN SF TO SAVE DRAKES BAY OYSTER FARM

MONDAY 7-15-13

2-4 PM

PIER 7 – WATERFRONT RESTAURANT & CAFE

 

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

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

The details for the event are below:

WHAT: Save Drakes Bay Rally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07-09-2013 FoodieProjectVideos: Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Published on Jul 9, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Company

 FoodieProjectVideos·18 videos
 

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

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

 

 

Standard YouTube License

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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