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

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

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

By  Laura Watt11/13/2014

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

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

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

For the full statement click on this link:

http://1.usa.gov/zp1jfD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NorCal Oyster Farm Dispute Spreads to Capitol Hill

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

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

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

12/10/2011

Marin Voice: Former assemblyman says original legislation favors oyster farm

By Bill Bagley
Guest op-ed column

Posted: 12/10/2011 05:50:00 AM PST

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

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

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

UofC Extension 12-07-2011

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

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

 20111208 DBOC 7700 letters to PRNS

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

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

For the full article, click on the link below:

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

The Twelve dEIS Comments (that you can make)

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

you can post multiple comments.

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

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

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

 

1

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

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

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

 

2

Potential impact on wildlife is not properly assessed.

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

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

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

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

 

3

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

The dEIS includes much discussion about special-status species

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

Environmental benefits are misrepresented and/or missing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5

Economic impacts are not adequately addressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6

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

Geographic parameters used throughout this chapter

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

Considered properly:

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

The analysis presented here is insufficient.

This section should be reformulated and corrected for the dEIS.

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

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

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

7

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

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

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

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

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

8

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

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

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

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

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

9

Existing management policies are not considered.

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

The existing management policies must be considered and addressed.

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

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

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

10

National aquaculture policies are ignored.

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

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

The dEIS should consider these policies.

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

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

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

11

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

12

 

DRAKES BAY OYSTER COMPANY SPECIAL USE PERMIT:

Collaborative Management Alternative

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Collaborative Management Alternative Respond to the dEIS on their Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

11/30/2011 Fighting Climate Change WITH OYSTERS!

The Coming Green Wave: Ocean Farming to Fight Climate Change

Excerpt (link below):

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

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

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

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

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

ReTweet with #dboyster

11/22/2011 MMC Report and Appendix F

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

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

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

Appendix F appendix_f

MMC Report drakes_estero_report

 

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

 Report #1, 7 year 4 month study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Report #2

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

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

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

3.      No trends are detected….

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

 2005 San Diego Court Decision:

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

 

(Author’s comments:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

North America – 38% wilderness

Africa – 28% wilderness

Check it out

http://anse.rs/stG5Bv

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

11-16-11 Ca Historical Society – Reception Invitation

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

Oyster Farm Opening Reception

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harbor Seal Report 2005

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

Dr Goodman to NAS 12-18-07

 

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

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

02-03-09 DBOC Letter to NAS

DBOC letter to NAS 02-03-09

03-22-11 Frost Report

Frost report 03-22-2011

11-10-11 THINGS DON’T ALWAYS GO BETTER WITH COKE — Did Corporate Donation Sway Reversal of Grand Canyon Plastic Water Bottle Ban?

11-10-11 PEER report: “Washington, DC — Just days before Grand Canyon National Park instituted a ban on sale of individual plastic water bottles, the ban was indefinitely suspended on orders from the Director of the National Park Service (NPS).  After receiving reports that this abrupt about-face was tied to large donations from the Coca Cola Company, which sells bottled water, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) today filed a lawsuit to obtain records on this policy u-turn after NPS declined to surrender them. ”

For the full article click here: http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1533

11-03-11 NPS forces Indian Trader out of business in Arizona

11-03-11: Indian Country Today, National Park Service Gone Rogue: A Whistleblower Speaks

“The laundry list of unethical acts and abuses of Malone by corrupt and incompetent agents, administrators and employees make one’s blood boil. The one person in this mess, aside from Berkowitz, who maintains a modicum of respect and trust in others is Malone, even as the very people charged with protecting his basic rights plot to destroy them. This inside look at how a great American institution actually undermines its own public image is as disturbing as it is necessary reading.”

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/11/national-park-service-gone-rogue-a-whistleblower-speaks/#ixzz1dK6dHiAT

10-31-11 PEER asks for your support (reports conflicts of interest by Jon Jarvis)

10/31/2011 Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility asks for your support (reports conflicts of interest by Jon Jarvis)

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/823/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1229321

10-30-11 Dave Mitchell Reviews Paul Berkowitz’ book “The Case of the Indian Trader”

The Case of the Indian Trader review

 

‘The Case of the Indian Trader’ illuminates the case of the oyster grower

 

By Dave Mitchell

        In trying to make a case for the federal government’s not renewing the lease of Drakes Bay Oyster Company in 2012, former Point Reyes National Seashore Supt. Don Neubacher and park science advisor Sarah Allen disseminated false data.

        Those were among the findings critical of the two when the Interior Department’s Inspector General’s Office issued a report in 2008. The report followed a year-long investigation, which began after company owner Kevin Lunny complained that he was being treated unfairly and slandered by the park.

        Neubacher’s boss was Jon Jarvis, then director of the Western Regional Office of the Park Service, and conveniently for Neubacher, his wife Patti worked closely with Jarvis as the assistant director. So how did the regional office respond?

        The report vindicated the Park Service, the regional office insisted, because there had been no finding that Neubacher and Allen had tried to close the oyster company before its lease expired. The Inspector General’s investigation, however, had focused on scientific misrepresentations by Allen and Supt. Neubacher — not on whether they were trying to close the oyster company before 2012 — so the regional office was merely indulging in an exotic spin job.

        The National Seashore’s exotic toadies immediately created a chorus of chirping. “By my count the ball game was won 14-1 by the Park Service,” Gordon Bennett, then spokesman for the Marin Chapter of the Sierra Club, told The Marin Independent Journal.

        And what did the Interior Department do to punish Neubacher for his misrepresentations? It made him superintendent of Yosemite National Park two years later and made Jarvis, his boss and defender, director of the National Park Service (NPS).

A nationwide problem

        Bizarre as those events seemed — given the clean-cut image the Park Service cultivates — this sort of thing is happening nationwide within the agency, as is documented by a new book, The Case of the Indian Trader: Billy Malone and the National Park Service Investigation at Hubbell Trading Post.

        In his book, author Paul Berkowitz, a retired criminal investigator for the National Park Service, describes the cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and political pressures that shape NPS and Department of the Interior management.

         The Case of the Indian Trader tells the true story (heavily documented with law enforcement reports) of a respected, honest, longtime trader who was falsely accused of fraud and other crimes.

         The trading post in federally administered Navajo country is owned by the Western National Parks Association (WNPA), which normally provides information in parks and makes financial contributions to them — much like the Point Reyes National Seashore Association, which sells books at the Visitor Center.

         In 2003, LeAnn Simpson became executive director of the WNPA and was immediately horrified by Malone’s traditional bookkeeping, which often consisted of verbal agreements with the rug weavers and jewelry makers on the reservation, some of whom could not read or write. With no evidence to back her up, she assumed Malone must have stolen millions of dollars from the trading post.

         At her request, the Park Service in 2004 launched an aggressive investigation of Malone, seizing his personal property while WNPA evicted him from the trading post.

         Two years went by before Malone was finally allowed to prove the property was his and recover it. He is now suing the Park Service, WNPA, and 10 past and present members of each.

         In 2005, special agent Berkowitz had been assigned to direct the trading post investigation. In doing so, he found repeated instances of investigators and their supervisors being dishonest, withholding exculpatory evidence, and circumventing the law to satisfy the WNPA and Park Service.

         There is a name for officials who put themselves above the law in this way, writes Berkowitz, who previously taught law enforcement classes. “Police administrators and psychologists have coined the term ‘noble cause corruption.’” Among his other observations:

         • “The NPS has evolved into a very insulated, provincial and sometimes cult-like organization…. The demand for loyalty insinuates itself into virtually every aspect of the NPS…. Over time these excesses come to affect many employees’ sense of what is and is not acceptable behavior, as they assimilate into the culture, often acting with near-blind obedience as they surrender their own better judgment to that prescribed by their employer.”

         • “An example of how extreme this indoctrination can be is that both new and transferring employees in many park areas have been required to swear a distinct oath of allegiance to the NPS at the very same time they swear to support and defend the US Constitution.”

         • “Information about NPS activities is regulated and restricted through carefully crafted press releases that often spin facts and fabricate accounts…. To allow a problem to surface into the public arena is an unforgivable act that could embarrass the agency.”

          • “NPS managers and employees themselves were found to have engaged in serious criminal activities while on duty, for which they were never officially investigated or prosecuted [by the Interior Department].…  In one notorious instance, a ranger even obtained a government step (pay) increase while sitting in jail on local charges related to voyeurism,” he writes.

         “The same employee had repeatedly been caught under similar circumstances in various parks to which he was assigned but was continually moved and promoted through the ranks (including chief park ranger) after each incident until reaching the position of assistant superintendent at a national recreation area where he continued to oversee law enforcement activities.”

         In yet another case, Berkowitz’s own supervisor would later admit to theft of public money but would receive no jail time and be allowed to retire with a full Park Service pension of nearly $100,000 per year.

Is the book fair?

         Skeptics may question whether the book is fair to the Interior Department and its Park Service, but Berkowitz repeatedly acknowledges there are “extraordinarily talented rangers and special agents who do work for the agency and individually strive for high standards.”

         Nonetheless, West Marin should beware the warning: “Short of crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior.” That observation, which is quoted by Berkowitz, did not originate with him but with Inspector General Earl Devany testifying in Congress.

  — The Case of the Indian Trader, 354 pages, University of New Mexico Press

 

10-30-11 Paul D. Berkowitz & Pete McCloskey In Conversation

On October 30, 2011 Paul D. Berkowitz, retired NPS Criminal Investigator, whistle-blower turned author of The Case of the Indian Trader, Billy Malone and the National Park Service Investigation at the Hubbell Trading Post May, 2011, gave a talk in Point Reyes with Pete McCloskey (originator of Earth Day, author of the Point Reyes Wilderness Act and former Senator). A link to the YouTube presentation will be available soon. Until then you may check out the slides from the Power Point Presentation here (this is an extremely large file and takes approximately 15 minutes to open): Berkowitz 10-30-11 ppp

10-30-11 Invitation to Paul Berkowitz and Pete McCloskey in Conversation

With perspectives on the culture of

the National Park Service

PAUL BERKOWITZ

Retired NPS criminal investigator and author of The Case of the Indian Trader

and

PETE McCLOSKEY

Former U.S. Congressman and co-author of the Point Reyes Wilderness Act

IN CONVERSATION

Sunday, October 30, from 4-6 PM, FREE

West Marin School Community Gym

11550 State Route 1, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Sponsors: ALSA, MARINWATCH, MARIN ORGANIC

10-28-11 National Parks Traveler article on House Oversight Committee Investigation

National Parks Traveler

House Oversight Committee Looking Into Point Reyes National Seashore’s Handling Of Oyster Farm Future

Submitted by Kurt Repanshek on October 28, 2011 – 8:45am

 

Questionable actions the staff of Point Reyes National Seashore has taken towards the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. have drawn the attention of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is launching an investigation into the fate of the oyster company.

“Since 2007, the NPS has been advocating that the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. cease operations at Point Reyes National Seashore because — according to NPS — the oyster farm is harming the local harbor seal population,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on October 20.

“Allegations that NPS knowingly relied on flawed science to support that conclusion as part of an effort to remove DBOC have come from a wide range of stakeholders and disinterested parties. If true, the NPS, a bureau of the Department of Interior, will have closed the doors on a family-owned small business without a valid scientific basis.”

The battle over the future of the oyster company has been ongoing for a number of years. When the company’s owner, Kenny Lunny, bought the operation from the Johnson Oyster Co. in 2007, it came with a 40-year lease that expires in November 2012. And since the oyster farm is located in an area of the seashore, Drakes Estero, that has been targeted for official wilderness designation, his ability to gain a lease extension has been impeded.

At issue is whether the oyster farm is adversely impacting Drakes Estero and its marinelife, particularly harbor seals. The estero long has been viewed for designation as official wilderness — the 1976 legislation that set aside 25,370 acres of the seashore as wilderness cited another 8,003 acres that would be “essentially managed as wilderness, to the extent possible, with efforts to steadily continue to remove all obstacles to the eventual conversion of these lands and waters to wilderness status” — and the oyster operation is seen as being incompatible with such a designation.

But the Park Service’s handling of the oyster company’s future has been both contentious and embarassing for the agency. While a Park Service report on the oyster operation concluded that it was impacting harbor seals, the report at times has withered under scrutiny. In 2009 the National Research Council said the NPS report was skewed, “selectively” manipulated in several areas, and inconclusive overall.

A year later, the Interior’s Solicitor’s Office conducted an investigation into whether the staff at Point Reyes had intentionally mishandled research data it collected to determine the oyster farm’s impacts, if any, on harbor seals during pupping season. That probe cleared the staff of any criminal behavior or criminal misconduct in the matter, a finding that itself has drawn criticism.

Part of the investigation centered around charges that Park Service staff “suppressed” more than 250,000 photographs the Point Reyes staff captured with a secret camera from 2007 to 2010 to determine whether farm operations were disturbing harbor seals during the pupping season. Those photos, proponents of the oyster farm say, failed to show any disturbance of harbor seals by farm employees. Interviews conducted by the Solicitor’s Office, however, indicated that on at least five occasions the farm’s workers caused disturbances of seals during pupping season.

Now Rep. Issa, R-California, wants his committee to look into the matter, and has asked Secretary Salazar to order the Park Service to turn over reams of documents — correspondence, reports, drafts of reports, emails — and to make staff, including Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, available for “transcribed interviews” set to begin the week of November 7.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein intervened on behalf of Mr. Lunny, asking Interior Secretary Salazar to extend the oyster company’s lease. That request led the seashore staff to prepare a draft environmental impact statement examining the oyster farm’s impacts on the estero.

Earlier this fall the seashore released a draft environmental impact statement. It offered four alternatives — a no action option, which would uphold the lease retirement next year, and three other options that would allow the oyster farm to remain, albeit at three different levels of operation. The document currently is open to public comment through November 29.

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