06-01-14 Lunny and Ranchers in PRNS & GGNRA re PRSRA Scoping Comments to Cicely Muldoon, et al

From: Kevin Lunny [mailto:kevin@drakesbayoyster.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 01, 2014 5:27 PM
To: ‘Cicely Muldoon’
Cc: Callaway, Jenny (Jenny.Callaway@mail.house.gov); Steve Kinsey (skinsey@marincounty.org); Liza Crosse (lcrosse@marincounty.org); Alonso, Scott (Scott.Alonso@asm.ca.gov); Hartzell, Jessica (Feinstein); Felix Yeung (felix_yeung@feinstein.senate.gov); ‘senator@boxer.senate.gov’
Subject: PRNS Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan Environmental Assessment
 
Dear Cicely,
 
The Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association (PRSRA) has asked me to send you a copy of the PRSRA scoping comments for the current NEPA process.  Since PRNS announced that it was beginning the process and made the materials available to PRSRA, the work began.  Over the past month, PRSRA membership got together regularly to produce these scoping comments.  These scoping comments are the result of an in-depth participation by most of the ranchers.  There were hundreds of suggestions by all ranchers involved to arrive at this letter that was ultimately unanimously approved by PRSRA and includes the signatures of almost every rancher within PRNS and GGNRA.
 
The members of PRSRA are taking this process very seriously and are looking forward to a collaborative, open process that will result in the long-term viability of the ranches, while protecting the exceptional cultural and natural resources within the ranchlands of PRNS and GGNRA.
 
A physical copy of the attached letter, with the signature page and its attachments, will be hand delivered to your office tomorrow. [appended below]
 
Thank you,
 
Kevin, and all the ranchers at PRNS and GGNRA
 
 
Kevin Lunny
Lunny Ranch
17300 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Inverness, CA 94937
415-669-1209 home
415-662-9800 office
415-662-9804 fax

10-03-14 Law on the Half Shell SHELLSHOCKED – Saving Oyster to Save Ourselves

“Overfishing and pollution have devastated oyster reefs worldwide, leading to their labeling as the ‘most severely impacted marine habitat’ on the planet.  With a single oyster able to filter over fifty gallons of water per day and reefs of oysters forming the bases of entire ecosystems and economies, the effects of this destruction have been dire.  Attempts are underway to rebuild oyster reefs, with New York Harbor the focus of the youth-led Billion Oyster Project.  Yet such endeavors have faced tremendous opposition, ranging from the Obama Administration’s removal in 2014 of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in Marin County, CA and the Supreme Court’s subsequent refusal to review the decision, to the State of Massachusetts blocking current efforts to use oysters to clean up the polluted Mystic River, to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation hampering individual homeowner efforts to clean up New York’s polluted waterways through oyster farming.”

Copyright Litigation Blog

Copyright law, fine art and navigating the courts. All practice, no theory.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Law on the Half Shell: Film Screening and Discussion On Oysters and the Law October 15 in NYC

Dunnington partner Raymond J. Dowd invites you to a screening of the internationally acclaimed documentary SHELLSHOCKED – Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves and follow-up discussion of the legal controversies brewing over oysters.  The event is to be held on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the New York County Lawyers’ Association (14 Vesey Street, New York, NY).

Formerly known as the oyster capital of the world, New York Harbor is now bereft of oysters.  Overfishing and pollution have devastated oyster reefs worldwide, leading to their labeling as the ‘most severely impacted marine habitat’ on the planet.  With a single oyster able to filter over fifty gallons of water per day and reefs of oysters forming the bases of entire ecosystems and economies, the effects of this destruction have been dire.  Attempts are underway to rebuild oyster reefs, with New York Harbor the focus of the youth-led Billion Oyster Project.  Yet such endeavors have faced tremendous opposition, ranging from the Obama Administration’s removal in 2014 of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in Marin County, CA and the Supreme Court’s subsequent refusal to review the decision, to the State of Massachusetts blocking current efforts to use oysters to clean up the polluted Mystic River, to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation hampering individual homeowner efforts to clean up New York’s polluted waterways through oyster farming.

SHELLSHOCKED – Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves, winner in the category of Best Short Feature at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival 2012, focuses on efforts to restore oysters to the waters where they once thrived and the pushback such undertakings have faced, both legally and environmentally.  Following the screening, SHELLSHOCKED director Emily Driscoll, Meredith Comi of the NY/NJ Baykeeper’s Oyster Restoration Program and internationally renowned geotherapy-focused artist Mara Haseltine will join Mr. Dowd in a discussion of these issues.

Tickets for Law on the Half Shell are available on the NYCLA website.  The cost is $35 for NYCLA members/$55 for non-members (includes 2 CLE credits) and $15 for non-attorneys.  We hope to see you there!

 

About Dunnington partner Raymond J. Dowd  Mr. Dowd’s practice consists of federal and state trial and appellate litigation, arbitration and mediation.  He has served as lead trial counsel in notable cases involving art law, copyrights, trademarks, cybersquatting, privacy, trusts and decedents’ estates, licensing, corporate and real estate transactions.  He has litigated questions of Austrian, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Russian and Swiss law and handled contentious matters in Surrogate’s Court, including Matter of Flamenbaum, 2013 NY Slip Op 07510 (Nov. 14, 2013), in which he succeeded in recovering an ancient Assyrian tablet for the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Mr. Dowd is the author of the acclaimed Copyright Litigation Handbook (West-Thomson Reuters) and frequently lectures on copyright litigation, including before the prestigious Copyright Society of the U.S.A.  In 2014, Copyright Litigation Handbook was selected by Cravath partners David Marriott and David Kappos for a copyright dispute externship at Columbia Law School.  At the 2009 Prague Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, he was selected for an expert legal panel, and he has lectured widely at venues including the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the San Francisco War Memorial, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and many chapters of the Federal Bar Association.  In 2007, he co-founded the annual Art Litigation and Dispute Resolution Institute at New York County Lawyers’ Association.

Mr. Dowd is a graduate of Manhattan College (B.A. International Studies cum laude, 1986) and Fordham Law School (1991), where he served on the Fordham International Law Journal.  He speaks French and Italian.  He is admitted to practice in the State of New York and to the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and to the First, Second, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuit Courts of Appeals.

Dunnington, Bartholow & Miller LLP was selected as a 2014 Top Ranked Law Firm for Intellectual Property by Corporate Counsel/ALM/The American Lawyer.  Dunnington is a full-service law firm providing corporate, litigation, intellectual property, real estate, taxation and estate planning services for an international clientele.  Find out more at www.dunnington.com.

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

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

Environmental Action Committee loses agricultural representative

10/02/2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tess Elliott

Bolinas, CA

Oct 4 2009 – 2:14pm

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

What lies in Drake’s Estero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editors Note:

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

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

Nation Web Letter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tess Elliott

Bolinas, CA

Oct 4 2009 – 2:14pm

 

For the complete article, click on the link below

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

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

Hard-working oyster farm workers lost their jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Larry “Cheech” Giambastiani, San Rafael

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

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

 

Dear GreenBiz Group Member,

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

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

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

I responded:

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

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

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

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

  • Oyster farming and wilderness are not mutually exclusive.

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

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

By Kevin Lunny

 

Kevin Lunny (Special to the IJ/James Cacciatore)

Kevin Lunny (Special to the IJ/James Cacciatore)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why West Marin finds it difficult to heal

 Lack of respect major factor

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

08-14-14 DBOC’s Opposition to Ca Coastal Commission Motion for New Trial

Please find attached the following documents filed in Marin Superior Court today:
 
–          Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s Opposition to Motion for New Trial; 8.14.14+Final+Opposition+to+Motion+for+New+Trial+120pm
 
–          Declaration of Phyllis Faber ISO Drakes Bay Opposition to Motion for A New Trial; 8.14.14+Faber+decl+ISO+opp+to+new+trial+motion
 
–          Declaration of Larry Giambastiani ISO Drakes Bay; 8.14.14+Decl+of+Larry+Giambastiani
 
–          Declaration of Peter Prows ISO Drakes Bay’s Opposition to Commission’s Motion for New Trial; 8.14.14+Prows+decl+ISO+opp+to+new+trial+motion

Sunday 8-24-14 SHUCK FOR SHELTER – Benefit for workers of DBOC at Fish in Sausalito

SHUCK FOR SHELTER

A BENEFIT FOR 
THE WORKERS OF DRAKES BAY OYSTER COMPANY
WITH: FINE & RARE, CARNEROS WINE ALLIANCE,
ANCHOR BREWERS AND DISTILLERS AND STAG DINING 
SUNDAY, AUGUST 24TH 2PM
AT FISH IN SAUSALITO

Dear Diners and Culinary Adventurers,

As of July 31, Drakes Bay Oyster Company, the last oyster cannery in the State of California, was forced to close by order of the NPS and Department of the Interior. As the shucking and packing building was being lifted from the ground and put onto a transport trailer for removal, the oyster shuckers and packers realized that their lives were forever changed. Some have worked here on the farm for 30 years and are valued members of this rural community.  Currently Drakes is only able to continue to harvest the oysters in Drakes Estero for the wholesale market, but as that comes to an end, all of the oystermen and women will lose their jobs and homes. Their families will be uprooted.

Stag Dining alongside Fine & Rare and the Carneros Wine Alliance, are hosting a benefit event for the workers of Drakes at FISH in Sausalito. This event will help raise money for the families of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. We invite you to celebrate the culinary contributions that this historic company helped weave into the fabric of the culinary landscape of the Bay Area for decades.

MENU & MISSION
-MENU-
Drakes
Raw Bar 
 

Bbq oysters/ crispy chicken skin,”red hot”, celery leaf
Broiled Oyster Dynamite/ shrimp, togarashi, ginger, japanese herbs
Smoked Oyster & Beef Tartare/ pickled watermelon, dehydrated tomato, onion rings

Oyster Gumbo/ andouille sausage, heirloom peppers 
Oyster Po’Boy Sliders/ brioche bun, jalapeño slaw, local tomatoes
EVENT DETAILS
Click here to purchase tickets

Sunday, August 24th, 2014


Time: 2pm-5pm

Details
$75* per person

21 and over

Price includes food and beverages

This event is a cocktail style party.

* A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the workers of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Additional raffle items and rare wines will be auctioned off as well. 


Location: 
350 Harbor Drive Sausalito, CA. 94965




Fish. is proud to be completely dedicated to sustainable seafood and organic produce, bought locally from the people who work so hard to bring the season’s best to our doors. We grill our food over a wood fire, drink our wine from simple glasses, and think a day spent fishing isn’t a bad way to spend a day. 




Participating Wineries

– Bouchaine 

A special thank you to






FOLLOW STAG

08-07-14 Pt Reyes Light, Our choice: A living seashore or a silent landscape

Our choice: A living seashore or a silent landscape

08/07/2014

Friday’s closing ceremony for Drakes Bay Oyster Company felt like a wake for someone still living. Or had that person died? None of the people gathered on the shores of the estuary seemed to know, and Drakes Estero herself was silent, if you hoped for an answer there. The succession of speakers who braced against the cold gusts rolling in off the ocean each shared their own emotional mixture: a funny combination of denial, defiance and resignation, as an NPR reporter described it, a cocktail the whole crowd seemed to be drinking. Since I did not (and do not) know if the fight is over—if the oyster farm still has a sliver of a chance at remaining in its nearly century-old home, or if the oysters themselves have a chance at a new iteration there or elsewhere—I spoke about what I do know.

First, Kevin and Nancy Lunny are remarkable people. They are not only first-rate oyster growers and stewards of the land and waters, but they have personally borne the burden of a battle for a holistic vision of the Point Reyes National Seashore. They have demonstrated heroic courage and generosity. And they’ve given many others a chance to be heroic in their own right, as friends, organizers, researchers, scientists and lawyers. In the repeated utterance that this episode has divided West Marin, maybe another truth is overlooked: that it has made many of us stronger through the articulation of our values. Still, the last several years have polarized us, and both sides feel battered. There will be no quick reconciliation or healing.

In part, that’s because the battle over the oyster farm continues as a larger struggle to define the future character of our seashore. The ranchers association, galvanized by the Lunnys’ fight, now has a persuasive and unified vision. It is one that restores the working landscape in what they call a return to Shafter-era agriculture. In the last half of the nineteenth century, Point Reyes was the state’s artichoke capital; farmers raised pigs, chickens, turkeys and sheep alongside cattle and the dairy ranchers had their own butter label. In the 21st century, the peninsula could again accommodate row crops and diverse livestock; ranching families, if allowed to build processing facilities, develop worker housing, and sell their wares, could present visitors to Point Reyes with salmon, halibut, crab and oysters; eggs, milk, yogurt, cheeses and butter; flowers and vegetables; preserves, yarns and so much more. Developing this economy would keep longtime agricultural families intact, with the rising generation building on the wisdom of their parents and grandparents. It would also provide jobs and model the kinds of economic resilience, food security, cooperative conservation and climate-responsive environmental practices we need to develop in our rapidly changing world.

From the John Sansing era, when the seashore’s historic structures were bulldozed on a whim, to the Don Neubacher era, when entire herds of deer were slaughtered (and the meat thrown away) only because they were non-native, we could arrive at a more balanced and forward-thinking era. But that can only happen with a good leader. Ever since its last leader left amid the embarrassment of the oyster-farm debacle, the seashore has been adrift. Cicely Muldoon has hidden behind the excuse of Washington: she is hamstrung, she is powerless. Her staff is crippled by gag orders; in the eyes of much of the public, their work is neither held accountable nor free of an overarching bias. The administration hunkers down under scrutiny rather than stepping up and opening up. And this in a place where people are informed, willingly engaged and conservation-minded. We are scientists, naturalists, farmers, gardeners, defenders of wildlife, historians, educators, activists, artists and storytellers. We are a tremendous resource, the ideal place for the National Park Service to practice its own principles and policies of cooperative conservation, and yet we are left out. The public process involved in planning and environmental reviews feels like a charade. We are directly impacted neighbors, yet we are told our opinions matter no more than those of any other Americans. But that vast demographic is influenced by the propaganda sent out by the Environmental Action Committee and the Sierra Club, organizations that have grown reckless.

So this is where all oyster farm supporters should redouble their efforts: In effecting change in our local park administration. There should be a resurrection of the citizen’s advisory committee or some version of it; there should be meetings where both park service officials and the public can actually speak and listen to each other. There should be transparency, accountability and feedback loops in the planning and execution of projects, from the removal of dune grass to the management of elk. The ranchers should be dealt with as a unified association; their detailed letters, full of concrete proposals, deserve responses. And isn’t their vision competitive with that of wilderness advocates—the latter’s being a vacated park, a postcard for the 2.6 million visitors to view through their windshields? The choice between a living, breathing seashore and a ghost park sure feels these days like an urgent one.

 

http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/our-choice-living-seashore-or-silent-landscape

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

If then, why not now?

 

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

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

 

1996-11-22 Neubacher ltr to Bank of Oakland

07-31-14 The Absurdity of the Removal of DBOC from the earth, or the dillema of feeding 7 Billion today, 9 Billion by 2050

On the last day for retail sales a ceremony was held at DBOC at which a number of people were asked to speak. I was honored to be one of the speakers. Below is the transcript of the speech I gave after introducing myself, informing all of how I came to be involved, and a little about my involvement through this “blog”.

 

New York State’s only remaining commercial oyster farm operates on the OYSTER BAY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, producing 90% of the State’s oyster harvest. The State of New York has designated the Oyster Bay area as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat. …. If there, WHY NOT HERE?!

http://oysterbaytown.com/places-to-go-things-to-do/

cover of Nat’l Geographic, May 2014

THE NEW FOOD REVOLUTION –

To feed our hungry planet, we must change the way we farm – and the way we think.

By Jonathan Foley

DIRECTOR OF the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota.

“When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.”  from pg 35 of the hard copy

·        Agriculture is among the greatest contributors to global warming, emitting more greenhouse gases than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined—largely from
o   methane released by cattle and rice farms,
o   nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and
o   carbon dioxide from the cutting of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock.
o   Farming is the thirstiest user of our precious water supplies
o   Runoff from fertilizers and manure makes Farming a major polluter
o   The spread of prosperity across the world, especially in China and India, is driving an increased demand for meat, eggs, and dairy, boosting pressure to grow more corn and soybeans to feed more cattle, pigs, and chickens.
o   As we’ve cleared areas of grassland and forest for farms, we’ve lost crucial habitat, making agriculture a major driver of wildlife extinction.
·
·        If these trends continue, the double whammy of population growth and richer diets will require us to roughly double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.
The author and his team proposed 5 steps to solve the world’s food dilemma.” I have taken his steps and included the validity of the argument to keep DBOC

1.    Freeze Agriculture’s Footprint…. Avoiding further deforestation must be a top priority.

o   OYSTER FARMING REQUIRES NO DEFORESTATION

2.   Grow More on Farms We’ve Got…. high-tech, precision farming systems, and borrowing from organic farming, could boost yields in several times over.

o   LEAVE DRAKES BAY OYSTER FARM RIGHT WHERE IT IS,

o   It doesn’t require high tech farming systems,

o   It is already 100% organic,

3.   Use Resources More Efficiently….. Organic farming can also greatly reduce the use of water and chemicals

       o   Oyster Farming requires neither fertilizers nor chemicals, and uses no added fresh water!

4.   Shift Diets…. Finding more efficient ways to grow meat and shifting to less meat-intensive diets…could free up substantial amounts of food  Curtailing the use of food crops for biofuels could also enhance food availability.

      o   Retaining a sustainable, renewable, ecologically and environmentally beneficial source of food production – OYSTER FARMING – will do that.  AND No one’s using oysters for bio-fuels!

5.  Reduce Waste.  25 % of the world’s food calories … are lost or wasted before they can be consumed. Tackling waste would be one of THE most effective options for boosting food availability.

o   Oysters come in individually, nature wrapped packages,

o   buy what you need, eat what you bought!

o   Even the shells are useful

§  whole they provide habitat restoration 

§  crushed they can be used

§  organic fertilizer

§  ground cover

Oyster production is the winner in solving the world food shortage dilema.

George Washington is purported to have said “Our country is an experiment” and he gave it 20 years.

I give this Wilderness Without Oysters experiment 20 years. It will be put back for both reasons environmental and necessity. We’ll have 9 Billion mouths to feed.

It will be too late for the Lunnys, their workers and families as well as all the ranchers and dairies on this peninsula – for the water filtration system provided by the oysters having been removed will leave them as the major polluter of the estero, and soon, they too, will HAVE to go, unless CONGRESS INTERVENES.

 

CONGRESS: YOU HAVE ALREADY REQUESTED INSTALLATION OF MORE OYSTER FARMS ON ALL OUR COASTS

CONGRESS: Don’t let this Empty Environmental Experiment ruin the lives of all these people AND EXTINGUISH THE AGRICULTURAL CHARACTER OF WEST MARIN.

CONGRESS, you have the power and the authority to reverse this decision.

CONGRESS ACT TO REVERSE THIS DECISION TODAY.

 

Write your congress person today, let them know you want this farm to stay!

 

07/31/14 Epoch Times, #1 Chinese Media Group, Sabrina Chang, Reporter, Coverage of DBOC last retail day

Sabrina Chang, Reporter for Epoch Times, the No. 1 Chinese Media Group was at the oyster farm on Thursday with a film crew.

Below is a link to her video that evening  in which Kevin Lunny, and others are recorded making short statements about the situation.

// // //

Ms Change also stated: We also have this piece of news on today’s Epoch Times newspaper.

08/03/14 Travel Channel video on Long Island, NY Oyster Farm in a Wildlife Refuge

TO SEE THE VIDEO, CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW

 

08-03-14 Commercial Oyster Farm in Nat’l Wildlife Refuge – 90% NY oysters produced there, if there WHY NOT HERE?

Wildlife & Habitat – Oyster Bay – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge consists of 3,204 acres of bay bottom, salt marsh, and a small freshwater wetland. It is managed principally for use by migratory waterfowl and other waterbirds. It is also one of the few bay-bottom refuges owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge is located off Long Island Sound, and the sheltered nature of the bay makes it extremely attractive as winter habitat for a variety of waterfowl species, especially diving ducks.

    The State of New York has designated the Oyster Bay area as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat. Marine wildlife common to the refuge includes harbor seals, diamondback terrapins, and several species of sea turtles. Shellfish and finfish are abundant at Oyster Bay. The bay supports the only commercial oyster farm aquaculture operation remaining on Long Island, and an estimated 90 percent of the commercial oysters in New York originate from areas associated with the refuge.

     

    YOU WILL FIND THIS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE IF YOU GO TO THE LINK BELOW

    http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Oyster_Bay/wildlife_and_habitat/index.html

     

    ALSO, CHECK OUT THE TRAVEL CHANNEL VIDEO ON LONG ISLAND OYSTERS

     

     

07/31/2014 PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION TBOC v DOI

 

Case No. 14-3246-YGR
PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR A
PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

Plaintiff seeks an order preliminarily enjoining Defendants the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) and the National Park Service (“NPS,” collectively with the DOI and the respective head of each, “Interior Defendants”), until this Court decides the merits of this lawsuit: (a) from evicting Drakes Bay Oyster Company (“DBOC”) or its employees; (b) from implementing the Secretary of the Interior’s decision to close the DBOC oyster farm; (c) and to allow the continued operation of the DBOC oyster farm.
STATEMENT OF ISSUES TO BE DECIDED
1. Are Plaintiffs likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absent the requested relief?
2. Are Plaintiffs likely to suceed likely to succeed on one or more of their claims and/or have they raised serious questions concerning them?

3. Do the balance of the hardships and public interest factors tip in favor issuance of the requested preliminary injunction?

 

For the entire brief click on or copy and paste the link below:

Gross Bagley filing 07-31-14

 

07/31/2014 West Marin Citizen: Bear Flag Flies over DBOC

By Shelly Ingram
West Marin lawful advocate and Forest Knolls resident, Barbara Scott, organized a common law court that convened on Monday, July 28 in Point Reyes to decide the Drakes Bay Oyster Company court case.
No members of the Supreme Court were in evidence.
The ten-person jury (reduced to nine when one member was later removed because of ties to the farm itself) unanimously voted to transfer all leases held by the farm to the Republic of California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The California Republic Bear Flag will now fly over the Inverness farm.
Resulting documents will be filed at the Marin County recorders office on July 31. This court’s decision may have no influence on the state or federal courts. But, Scott said it did serve as an opportunity to promote good feeling and camaraderie among the more than two-dozen people in attendance.

For the transcript, click on the link below:

DRAKESBAYCERTIFIEDETRANSCRIPT

Exhibits from the trial:

Exhibits for DBOC Constitutional Jury Trial

 

 

7/31/2014 Pt Reyes Light: Common law jury finds oyster closure illegal

Common law jury finds oyster closure illegal

07/31/2014

Something unusual happened Monday night at the fire station meeting room in Point Reyes: citizens actually volunteered for jury duty. Drakes Bay Oyster Company supporters took the law into their own hands in a civil trial. After 22 minutes of deliberation, the jury of 10 locals—including Dave Brast, Melinda Leithold, Chloe Cook, Jude Vasconcellos, Linda Peterson and Loretta Murphy, the farm’s manager and a plaintiff in another lawsuit—returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the Lunnys, finding their operating lease should be renewed and transferred back to the state to allow the oyster farm to continue operating. Seated around a circle of tables under a state flag pinned to the wall that repeatedly fell during the hour-long trial, the jury listened to testimony from scientist and agricultural consultant Jeff Creque, Oysterzone blogger Jane Gyorgy and Tomales Bay Association president Ken Fox. The legal teams for the government and the Lunnys were duly noticed, but neither showed. A certified court reporter recorded a transcript, and someone dropped the decision off at the Civic Center the next day. The trial’s constitutional justifications were dubious at best—relying on the Seventh Amendment, which normally does not apply to suits against the federal government—and its administrative proceedings even worse—a biased jury, a one-sided trial. But the evening gathering gave a small group of supporters a chance they’ve been lacking until now: a chance to reclaim some control after lawyers, judges and officials distant to the West Marin imagination wielded it for the last 19 months, and a chance to air their emotions over losing their local farm. Perhaps the most popular witness Monday night was Rev. Robert Weldy, the priest at St. Columba’s Church in Inverness. He didn’t come with exhibits, letters or reports. No one asked him any questions. He spoke about going to the oyster farm on Sunday and witnessing the families picnicking, kids and pets running around. He said Drakes Bay Oyster Company was the happiest place on earth, better than Disneyland. The jury liked that, and they voted his way.
For the transcript, click on the link below:
For the Exhibits, click on the link below:

07/28/14 Injunction hearing set for September, Shack & canning closes Thursday, 7-31-14

Shack and canning closes Thursday, 4:30PM, 7-31-14

Harvesting continues at least 30 more days

Both lawsuits ARE STILL PENDING

Injunction hearing (TBOC et al v DOI et al) set for September.

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

Park management flip-flopped on Lunny operation

07/24/2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

07-10-2014 PRL there’s still a chance thru Congress, YOU MUST ACT NOW!

“…speak your mind to park officials and elected representatives.”

CONGRESS IS THE LANDLORD. IT COULD ISSUE A NEW PERMIT TOMORROW BUT ONLY IF WE, THE PEOPLE, PUSH HARD FOR IT.

 TIME HAS COME FOR YOU TO SPEAK TO YOUR CONGRESSMEN AND CONGRESSWOMEN.

 

Keep on shucking

07/10/2014

Our family almost didn’t buy the oyster farm. Like all the ranches on Point Reyes, the farm can’t succeed without the seashore’s support, so we called then-Superintendent Don Neubacher before buying it to ask him what he thought. He said it would be a “bad idea” to buy the farm. The problem wasn’t that Drakes Estero was a “potential wilderness” area; wilderness status, he had told Charlie Johnson’s lawyer, was “more symbolic than anything else.” The problem was that the farm was falling apart, and the National Park Service wouldn’t support an operation that was in shambles. After the call, we agreed to walk away.

But Don called us back the next day. “I’d feel like I’d died and gone to heaven if you bought the oyster farm,” he said. He understood that our family had a great relationship with the park, that we were good stewards of our ranch and that we would take care of Drakes Estero. The park service had long supported the continuation of agriculture in the seashore, and had routinely renewed ranchers’ leases. We thought that if we fixed up the farm, as Don wanted, that the park would renew that lease, too—and that an important part of the agricultural fabric of our community would be saved.

After the call, our family decided to go ahead with the purchase. We took over operations on January 1, 2005, and quickly invested close to a million dollars in borrowed money for cleanup and upgrades. We truly believed the park would be relieved.

Instead, things went downhill. A few months later, the park sent us a letter from their lawyers concluding that the wilderness laws prohibited the renewal of the lease. (The people who drafted the legislation, like Congressman John Burton and the Environmental Action Committee’s founder, Jerry Friedman, thought Congress always intended the farm to stay.) We quickly became the target of an ugly attempt by the park to paint our family as “environmental felons.” (In fact, the environment in Drakes Estero is thriving.) Then-Secretary Ken Salazar, in denying our renewal, relied on much of the same wrong reasons.

If the park service can rewrite history and make false accusations of environmental harm against our family and the oyster farm, it can do it to any of the ranching families. So we sued. The federal district court and two judges on the Ninth Circuit held that the courts don’t have jurisdiction over our main claims. The only judge to review our claims on the merits—Judge Paul Watford—agreed with us that the decision was an abuse of discretion.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review our case, we are out of legal options to keep the farm open while we continue litigation. The oyster shack and cannery will close at the end of this month. We look forward to seeing and greeting our cherished friends and supporters in the coming days.

The park’s decision to close us down will hurt our employees. Many of them have grown up and put their children through school here, and have specialized skills that will be tough to put to use elsewhere in West Marin. We are grateful that California Rural Legal Assistance and Marin Legal Aid will be meeting with our employees and their families to try to find ways to help.

The decision will also hurt our community. The park service says it supports the ranchers and that the oyster farm issue is unrelated. We’re skeptical. If the park truly supports agriculture in West Marin, it would have honored Congress’s intent and renewed our farm’s permit. It would not have put a bull’s eye on the ranchers’ backs by identifying them in the farm’s recent environmental impact statement as the primary source of nonpoint-source pollution in an oyster-free Drakes Estero. It would be removing elk from the pastoral zone and issuing long-term leases today. And it would be thinking creatively about reusing the oyster shack as a place to sell the ranchers’ wares, rather than gearing up to send in the bulldozers. The park’s actions, and inactions, speak louder than words.

Our family will get through this. And there’s still a chance for us to get a new permit, either through the courts or Congress. (Though we don’t think civil disobedience is a good idea here, those of you still looking for ways to help should speak your mind to park officials and elected representatives.)

We owe so many people our deep and abiding gratitude; to name them all would overflow the pages of this newspaper. Thank you Senator Feinstein and Supervisor Kinsey, who have each proven willing to fight for their constituents and for sustainable agriculture in West Marin. Thank you Corey Goodman, who spent thousands of hours debunking the false claims of environmental harm and standing up for scientific integrity in government. Thank you Phyllis Faber, the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture, Laura Watt, Jeff Creque, Dave Weiman, Sarah Rolph, Barbara Garfien, Judy Teichman, Bill Bagley, Michael Greenberg and Donna Yamagata, Jane Gyorgy and our lawyers. Thanks to the Light and the Citizen, which have covered this issue courageously over the years. And thanks to the countless volunteers who contributed their time and talent to make those wonderful “Save Our Drakes Bay Oyster Farm” signs, which we hope will stay up as a reminder that 85 percent of this community has supported us in this fight. Keep on shucking and believing.

May 2014 Nat’l Geographic Cover story: EAT Serving more than 7 billion every day

The link to the article:  Feeding 9 Billion | National Geographic.

THE NEW FOOD REVOLUTION – Feeding [SEVEN BILLION TODAY] NINE Billion [BY 2050]

To feed our hungry planet, we must change the way we farm – and the way we think.

By Jonathan Foley

“When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.”

from pg 35 of the hard copy

 

Where will we find enough food for 9 billion?

A Five Step Plan to FEED THE WORLD

It doesn’t have to be factory farms versus small, organic ones. There’s another way. 

By 2050 we’ll need to feed two billion more people. How can we do that without overwhelming the planet?

FIRST, LET’S LOOK AT THE AUTHOR’S MAIN POINTS

  • When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner. But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.
  • Agriculture is among the greatest contributors to global warming, emitting more greenhouse gases than all our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes combined—largely from
    • methane released by cattle and rice farms,
    • nitrous oxide from fertilized fields, and
    • carbon dioxide from the cutting of rain forests to grow crops or raise livestock.
    • Farming is the thirstiest user of our precious water supplies and a major polluter, as runoff from fertilizers and manure disrupts fragile lakes, rivers, and coastal ecosystems across the globe.
    • Agriculture also accelerates the loss of biodiversity. As we’ve cleared areas of grassland and forest for farms, we’ve lost crucial habitat, making agriculture a major driver of wildlife extinction.
  • The environmental challenges posed by agriculture are huge, and they’ll only become more pressing as we try to meet the growing need for food worldwide.
  • We’ll likely have two billion more mouths to feed by mid-century—more than nine billion people.
  • The spread of prosperity across the world, especially in China and India, is driving an increased demand for meat, eggs, and dairy, boosting pressure to grow more corn and soybeans to feed more cattle, pigs, and chickens.
  • If these trends continue, the double whammy of population growth and richer diets will require us to roughly double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.
The author goes on to state, “I was fortunate to lead a team of scientists who confronted this simple question: How can the world double the availability of food while simultaneously cutting the environmental harm caused by agriculture? After analyzing reams of data on agriculture and the environment, we proposed five steps that could solve the world’s food dilemma.”

NOW, LET’S LOOK AT “THE FIVE STEPS”(in BLUE)  AND COMPARE THEM TO OYSTER FARMING (in GREEN):

  1. Freeze Agriculture’s Footprint…. Avoiding further deforestation must be a top priority. 

    • OYSTER FARMING REQUIRES NO DEFORESTATION

  2. Grow More on Farms We’ve Got…. Using high-tech, precision farming systems, as well as approaches borrowed from organic farming, we could boost yields in these places several times over.

    • LEAVE DRAKES BAY OYSTER FARM RIGHT WHERE IT IS, it doesn’t take high tech farming systems, it is already 100% organic, and it employs local people to produce a sustainable, renewable food source.

  3. Use Resources More Efficiently….Many growers apply customized blends of fertilizer tailored to their exact soil conditions, which helps minimize the runoff of chemicals into nearby waterways. Organic farming can also greatly reduce the use of water and chemicals

    • Oyster Farming requires neither fertilizers nor chemicals, and uses no added water!

  4. Shift Diets….For every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork, or 3 of beef. Finding more efficient ways to grow meat and shifting to less meat-intensive diets…could free up substantial amounts of food across the world. Curtailing the use of food crops for biofuels could also go a long way toward enhancing food availability.

    • Oysters were once a staple on menus. Shifting back to a sustainable, renewable, ecologically and environmentally beneficial source of food production is a good thing.  No one’s using oysters for bio-fuels either!

  5. Reduce Waste. An estimated 25 percent of the world’s food calories … are lost or wasted before they can be consumed. In rich countries … waste occurs in homes, restaurants, or supermarkets. In poor countries food is often lost between the farmer and the market, due to unreliable storage and transportation.  Of all of the options for boosting food availability, tackling waste would be one of the most effective.

    • Oysters come in individually nature wrapped packages, buy what you need, eat what you bought, simple!

    • Shells can be used in so many ways

      • whole they provide habitat restoration 

      • crushed they can be used as 

        • organic fertilizer

        • ground cover

Looks like Oyster production is the hands down winner in the world food shortage dilema.

 

Jonathan Foley directs the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. Jim Richardson’s portraits of farmers are the latest in his body of work documenting agriculture. George Steinmetz’s big-picture approach reveals the landscapes of industrial food.

The magazine thanks The Rockefeller Foundation and members of the National Geographic Society for their generous support of this series of articles.

All maps and graphics: Virginia W. Mason and Jason Treat, NGM Staff. A World Demanding More, source: David Tilman, University of Minnesota. Agriculture’s Footprint, source: Roger LeB. Hooke, University of Maine. Maps, source: Global Landscapes Initiative, Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota.

 

 

PS: I do not normally insert my opinions into published articles yet this one was prime for making the points evident to all of us who wish to see Drakes Bay Oyster Farm continue not only for its historical benefits; or its local, sustainable, renewable, environmental benefits, or for the fact that 25 workers some there for decades, will have to uproot their entire families and move out of state if they wish to continue the only work they have known, or because every environmental organization upon the formation of the Point Reyes National Seashore and the creation of the Wilderness Act recognized the existence of and championed the continuation in perpetuity of the oyster farm, but also because we already have a food shortage problem and it is only going to get worse, fast. Preserving this oyster farm and establishing more of them as Congress has charged coastal states to do, is the right thing for our planet and our people.

Jane Gyorgy

06-27-14 Marin Co Sup Court DBOC WINS OVER CCC, CCC ABUSED DISCRETION & VIOLATED the LAW

“DRAKES BAY OYSTER WAS VINDICATED TODAY

in its fight against unjust enforcement orders imposed last year

BY THE CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION.

The Marin County Superior Court 

OVERTURNED THOSE ORDERS IN EVERY SIGNIFICANT EFFECT,

finding that the

COMMISSION’S

UNFAIR PROCESS

WAS AN

ABUSE OF DISCRETION

AND A

VIOLATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW.”

 

June 27, 2014  Media Contact: Tina Walker Office: 415.227.9700 Cell: 650.248.1037 Email: tina@singersf.com    

 

Drakes Bay Wins: Court Overturns California Coastal Commission Orders Against Oyster Farm Commission abused its discretion and violated environmental law

INVERNESS, CALIF. — Drakes Bay Oyster was vindicated today in its fight against unjust enforcement orders imposed last year by the California Coastal Commission. The Marin County Superior Court overturned those orders in every significant respect, finding that the Commission’s unfair process was an abuse of discretion and a violation of environmental law.

 

The enforcement orders were based on false allegations for which there was no evidence. Before a hearing last February, expert evidence disproving the allegations was provided by the Lunnys, but the Commission voted to exclude all the evidence the Lunnys presented in their own defense.

 

“This is a good day for California,” said Phyllis Faber, a Marin County environmental activist and biologist who was a founding member of the Commission. “The Coastal Commission had seriously abused its power. It was necessary to hold them accountable.”

 

Now that the Commission’s unfair enforcement orders have been overturned, the oyster farm and the Commission can get back to working on a permit for the farm.

 

Drakes Bay’s lawsuit against the Coastal Commission is separate from its suit against the National Park Service, which is currently pending at the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court could decide as soon as Monday whether to take Drakes Bay’s case.

 

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

The historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the community for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased the oyster farm in 2004. Modern environmentalists and proponents of sustainable agriculture praise Drakes Bay Oyster as a superb example of how people can produce high-quality food in harmony with the environment. The farm produces approximately one third of all oysters grown in California, and employs 30 members of the community. The Lunnys also contribute the oyster shells that make possible the restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay and the oyster shells used to create habitat for the endangered Snowy Plover and Least Tern. As the last oyster cannery in California, Drakes Bay is the only local (and thus the only safe and affordable) source of these shells. The Lunny family is proud of its contributions to a sustainable food model that conserves and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.comand www.savedrakesbay.com

06-12-14 So. Index Trib: “One Last Lunny Long Shot” decision by end of June possible

Excerpt (emphasis added)

For supporters of the wilderness conversion of Drakes Bay, the issue is simple: the Lunnys’ lease ran out. End of story. Commercial developments aren’t compatible with wilderness.

Except, perhaps, where they are.

Drakes Bay Peninsula lands are, and presumably will continue to be, farmed by commercial cattle ranchers.

Commercial developments in Yosemite and Yellowstone and countless other wild parklands of America have somehow been accommodated.

And, it has been credibly demonstrated, the Lunnys’ oyster operation has no negative environmental impact on the land and waters of Drake’s Bay.

Home News Sports Schools Food & Wine Entertainment Events Life & History Opinion Real Estate Obits

One last Lunny long shot

 

Drake's Bay oysters. Internet photo

Drake’s Bay oysters. Internet photo

Thursday, June 12, 2014 5:13 PM

By

Amazingly, you can still buy Drake’s Bay oysters.

That’s because the oyster war continues to unfold on the Pt. Reyes Peninsula, where Kevin and Nancy Lunny – with family roots deep in Sonoma – have been driven to the brink in their stubborn efforts to continue farming shellfish. The Lunnys are still in business, but it appears they have just one or two more legal lives to lose.

It could have been assumed that, when former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an edict that the oyster farm’s lease had expired and must be banished from the pristine waters of Drake’s Bay, that was the end of the line.

Not so.

It could also have been assumed that when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, ruled in a split, 2-1 decision that Salazar’s edict was legal and binding, that that would be the end of the line.

Not so.

It could have been further assumed that, when the Lunny’s appeal was denied to have the court sit en banc, with a full, 11-judge panel to review the three-judge decision – a rare occurrence at best – that was surely the end of the line.

Nope.

On April 14, the Lunnys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to review the Ninth Circuit decision. The odds of the high court accepting the case are long, and longer still that it will accept the case and reverse the decision. But stranger things have happened, and meanwhile, the Lunnys are being allowed to continue farming until the final hand is played.

That’s because, according to the Lunnys, they have shown there is a “reasonable probability” the high court will take the case, and a “significant possibility” that the oyster farm will win.

In a recent press release, the Lunnys announced a decision on the writ could come as early as the end of June.

It is an intriguing, sometimes troubling issue, only partly about the sanctity of so-called “wilderness” lands, which Drakes Bay ostensibly became after its federal lease expired, under terms of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

For supporters of the wilderness conversion of Drakes Bay, the issue is simple: the Lunnys’ lease ran out. End of story. Commercial developments aren’t compatible with wilderness.

Except, perhaps, where they are.

Drakes Bay Peninsula lands are, and presumably will continue to be, farmed by commercial cattle ranchers. Commercial developments in Yosemite and Yellowstone and countless other wild parklands of America have somehow been accommodated.
And, it has been credibly demonstrated, the Lunnys’ oyster operation has no negative environmental impact on the land and waters of Drake’s Bay.

That may not matter, because the legal issues involved have nothing to do with environmental impacts. The key legal issue will likely be whether the federal government can be taken to court for abusing its discretionary power. That’s what the Supreme Court has to decide.

That the Lunnys will win their last battle is unlikely. And we think that’s a shame. Environmental leaders we respect think a Lunny victory would set a dangerous precedent for the preservation of wilderness land. We disagree.

We think the Lunnys represent a perfect example of a positive bridge between sustainable agriculture and wilderness protection.
We hope they prevail.

06-10-2014 DBOC Reply Brief in Supreme Court

Please click the link below to read the actual brief

 

DBOC Reply Brief in Supreme Court

06-10-2014 DBOC Files Reply Brief in US Supreme Court – shows Govt Arguments are wrong

June 10, 2014
Contacts: Tina Walker
Office: 415.227.9700
Cell: 650.248.1037
Email: tina@singersf.com

Peter Prows
Counsel for Drakes Bay Oyster Company
Email: pprows@briscoelaw.net
Drakes Bay Oyster Files Reply Brief in U.S. Supreme Court
Brief shows that the government’s arguments are wrong and that the Supreme Court should take the case
INVERNESS, CALIF. — Drakes Bay Oyster Company today filed its reply to the government’s brief opposing the oyster farm’s petition to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case.

Drakes Bay petitioned the high court on April 14, 2014 for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in its case against the government.

At stake is whether the government, in making countless everyday decisions, can be taken to court when it abuses its power. The Ninth Circuit held last fall that a federal court does not have jurisdiction to review a discretionary agency decision for abuse of discretion.

The government filed a brief on May 27, 2014 opposing the oyster farm’s petition.

The brief filed today points out the weaknesses of the government’s opposition brief. Drakes Bay has argued that the high court should take the case to resolve “the mother of all circuit splits.” A circuit split is an issue on which two or more circuits in the U.S. court of appeals system have given different interpretations of federal law.

The splits in this case are on three critical issues: jurisdiction to review agency actions for abuse of discretion, applicability of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and prejudicial error under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The government’s brief does not dispute the existence of these splits, that these splits affect a fundamental issue of administrative law, or that the issue is of national importance.

The small, family-owned farm has been in a years-long heated legal battle with federal regulators for its survival. At issue is former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s denial in November 2012 of Drakes Bay’s permit to continue operating the 80-year-old oyster farm, even though the original deal for the creation of Point Reyes National Seashore—supported by the Park Service, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, and every other interested environmental and civic group—was that the oyster farm was always supposed to stay as an important part of the agricultural and cultural history of Point Reyes.

Because Drakes Bay showed that there is a “reasonable probability” that the Supreme Court will take this case and a “significant possibility” that the oyster farm will win, the Ninth Circuit has allowed Drakes Bay to remain open while it takes its case to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court could decide whether to take this case as early as the end of this month.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company
The historic oyster farm in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the community for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased the oyster farm in 2004. Modern environmentalists and proponents of sustainable agriculture praise Drakes Bay Oyster as a superb example of how people can produce high-quality food in harmony with the environment. The farm produces approximately one third of all oysters grown in California, and employs 30 members of the community. The Lunnys also contribute the oyster shells that make possible the restoration of native oysters in San Francisco Bay and the oyster shells used to create habitat for the endangered Snowy Plover and Least Tern. As the last oyster cannery in California, Drakes Bay is the only local (and thus the only safe and affordable) source of these shells. The Lunny family is proud of its contributions to a sustainable food model that conserves and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit http://www.drakesbayoyster.com and http://www.savedrakesbay.com

 

For the full brief, click the link below:

DBOC Reply Brief in Supreme Court

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

Circuit court denies EAC appeal

05/01/2014

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

09-03-2013 Judge Watford’s Dissenting Opinion on the Appeal to the 9th Circuit

“The government will suffer only modest harm if oyster
farming’s eighty-year history in the Estero continues a bit
longer.

But if a preliminary injunction is erroneously denied,
Drakes Bay’s business will be destroyed.

That is all Drakes Bay must show to demonstrate that the balance of equities
tips in its favor here.”

 

Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Northern District of California
Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, District Judge, Presiding
Argued and Submitted
May 14, 2013—San Francisco, California
Filed September 3, 2013
Amended January 14, 2014

 

page 38 CO. V. JEWELL
WATFORD, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
The majority states that, by enacting § 124, “Congress did
nothing more than let the Secretary know his hands were not
tied.” Maj. op. at 24. I think Congress, by including the
“notwithstanding” clause in § 124, intended to do more than
that. In particular, it sought to override the Department of the
Interior’s misinterpretation of the Point Reyes Wilderness
Act, Pub. L. No. 94-544, 90 Stat. 2515 (1976).
The Department had concluded, in 2005, that the Act
barred issuance of a special use permit authorizing continued
operation of Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s oyster farm. The
Department thought Congress had “mandated” that result by
designating Drakes Estero, where the oyster farm is located,
as a “potential wilderness addition” in the Point Reyes
Wilderness Act. The Act’s legislative history makes clear,
however, that by divining such a mandate, the Department
simply misinterpreted the Act’s provisions and misconstrued
Congress’s intent. The Department’s misinterpretation of the
Point Reyes Wilderness Act prompted Congress to enact
§ 124 in 2009. In my view, by including a notwithstanding
clause in § 124, Congress attempted to supersede the
Department’s erroneous interpretation of the Act.
In the 2012 decision challenged here, the Secretary
nonetheless denied Drakes Bay’s permit request based
primarily on the very same misinterpretation of the Point
Reyes Wilderness Act that Congress thought it had
overridden. As a result, I think Drakes Bay is likely to
prevail on its claim that the Secretary’s decision is arbitrary,
capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. See
5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Because the other preliminary
injunction factors also weigh in Drakes Bay’s favor,
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DRAKES BAY OYSTER CO. V. JEWELL 39
injunctive relief preserving the status quo should have been
granted here.
I
To explain why I think the Interior Department (and later
the Secretary) misinterpreted the Point Reyes Wilderness Act,
a fairly detailed discussion of the Act’s legislative history is
necessary.
The events leading up to passage of the Point Reyes
Wilderness Act begin in 1962, when Congress authorized
creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore and
appropriated funds for land acquisition within the Seashore’s
designated boundaries. Act of Sept. 13, 1962, Pub. L. No.
87-657, 76 Stat. 538 (1962). As part of that process, in 1965,
the State of California conveyed ownership of the submerged
lands and coastal tidelands within the Seashore’s boundaries
to the federal government. See Act of July 9, 1965, ch. 983,
§ 1, 1965 Cal. Stat. 2604, 2604. Those lands included Drakes
Estero. The conveyance reserved certain mineral and fishing
rights, which allowed the State to “prospect for, mine, and
remove [mineral] deposits from the lands,” and “reserved to
the people of the state the right to fish in the waters
underlying the lands.” Id. §§ 2–3, 1965 Cal. Stat. at 2605. At
the time of the State’s conveyance, oyster farming was
already a well-established fixture in Drakes Estero, with roots
dating back to the 1930s.
In 1973, the President recommended that Congress
preserve 10,600 acres within the Point Reyes National
Seashore as “wilderness,” under the terms of the Wilderness
Act of 1964, Pub. L. No. 88-577, § 3(c), 78 Stat. 890, 892
(1964). Members of California’s congressional delegation
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DRAKES BAY OYSTER 40 CO. V. JEWELL
found that recommendation woefully inadequate, and soon
thereafter introduced identical bills in the House and Senate
designating far larger areas of the Seashore as wilderness. In
the House, Congressman John Burton introduced H.R. 8002,
94th Cong. (1975); in the Senate, Senator John Tunney
introduced S. 2472, 94th Cong. (1975). H.R. 8002 is the bill
that eventually became the Point Reyes Wilderness Act.
As originally proposed, H.R. 8002 and S. 2472 would
have designated more than thirty-eight thousand acres as
wilderness. Included within that designation was Drakes
Estero, as well as most of the other submerged lands and
coastal tidelands conveyed by California in 1965. The
sponsors of H.R. 8002 and S. 2472 were well aware of the
oyster farm in Drakes Estero. They nonetheless included
Drakes Estero within the wilderness designation because they
did not view the farm’s operations as incompatible with the
area’s wilderness status. Commenting on the Senate bill,
Senator Tunney left no doubt on that score, declaring,
“Established private rights of landowners and leaseholders
will continue to be respected and protected. The existing
agricultural and aquacultural uses can continue.” Wilderness
Additions—National Park System: Hearings Before the
Subcomm. on Parks and Recreation of the S. Comm. on
Interior and Insular Affairs, 94th Cong. 271 (1976)
[hereinafter Senate Hearing].
During hearings on H.R. 8002 and S. 2472, various civic,
environmental, and conservation groups supported Drakes
Estero’s designation as wilderness. They explained in detail
why neither the State’s reserved mineral and fishing rights
nor the oyster farm precluded such a designation. No one
advocating Drakes Estero’s designation as wilderness
suggested that the oyster farm needed to be removed before
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DRAKES BAY OYSTER CO. V. JEWELL 41
the area could become wilderness. See id. at 324–33,
344–61; H.R. 7198, H.R. 8002, et al., To Designate Certain
Lands in the Point Reyes National Seashore, California as
Wilderness: Hearing Before Subcomm. on Nat’l Parks and
Recreation of the H. Comm. on Interior and Insular Affairs,
94th Cong. (1976) [hereinafter House Hearing], prepared
statements of Jim Eaton, William J. Duddleson, Ms. Raye-
Page, and Frank C. Boerger.
The comments Congress received from those who were
advocating Drakes Estero’s designation as wilderness stressed
a common theme: that the oyster farm was a beneficial preexisting
use that should be allowed to continue
notwithstanding the area’s designation as wilderness. For
example, a representative from the Wilderness Society stated:
“Within Drakes Estero the oyster culture activity, which is
under lease, has a minimal environmental and visual
intrusion. Its continuation is permissible as a pre-existing
non-conforming use and is not a deterrent for inclusion of the
federally owned submerged lands of the Estero in
wilderness.” House Hearing, prepared statement of Ms.
Raye-Page, at 6. The Chairman of the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area Citizens’ Advisory Commission noted that
the oyster-farming operations “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.” Senate Hearing, at 361. He therefore
recommended that specific provision be made to allow such
operations “to continue unrestrained by wilderness
designation.” Id. Others observed, echoing the comments of
Senator Tunney, that the proposed House and Senate bills
already provided for that. See House Hearing, prepared
statement of William J. Duddleson, at 3–4 (“H.R. 8002 would
allow continued use and operation of Johnson’s Oyster
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DRAKES BAY OYSTER 42 CO. V. JEWELL
Company at Drakes Estero, as a pre-existing non-conforming
use.”); Senate Hearing, at 357 (“S. 2472 would allow the
continued use and operation of Johnson’s Oyster Company in
Drakes Estero.”). A local state assemblyman succinctly
summed it up this way: “Finally, I believe everyone
concerned supports the continued operation of oyster farming
in Drakes Estero as a non-conforming use.” Senate Hearing,
at 356.
The view expressed by these speakers—that continued
operation of the oyster farm was fully compatible with
Drakes Estero’s designation as wilderness —was not some
wild-eyed notion. It was firmly grounded in the text of the
Wilderness Act itself. The Act generally bans commercial
enterprise within wilderness areas, but does so “subject to
existing private rights.” 16 U.S.C. § 1133(c). Drakes Bay’s
predecessor, the Johnson Oyster Company, had existing
private rights in the form of water-bottom leases issued by
California that pre-dated both the passage of the Wilderness
Act and creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore. The
Act also generally prohibits the use of motorboats within
wilderness areas, see id., but the Secretary of Agriculture may
permit continued use of motorboats when, as here, such use
has “already become established.” Id. § 1133(d)(1). To the
extent there is any ambiguity in these provisions, the Act’s
legislative history makes clear that Congress believed the new
wilderness-preservation system would not affect the
economic arrangements of business enterprises “because
existing private rights and established uses are permitted to
continue.” S. Rep. No. 88-109, at 2 (1963).
The only party opposed to designating Drakes Estero as
wilderness was the Department of the Interior. At first, the
Department took the position that none of the submerged
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lands and coastal tidelands conveyed by California in 1965
could be designated as wilderness, because the State’s
reserved mineral and fishing rights were “inconsistent with
wilderness.” House Hearing, letter from John Kyl, Assistant
Secretary of the Interior, at 3. When the Department’s view
came under attack by those who argued that the State’s
reserved rights were not in any way inconsistent with
wilderness, see, e.g., Senate Hearing, at 327–28, the
Department backpedaled. It proposed placing most of the
lands subject to the State’s reserved rights into a new
legislative classification—“potential wilderness addition”—
which it had developed in connection with similar wilderness
proposals. See House Hearing, at 11–12; id., letter from John
Kyl, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, at 1. That
designation was intended to encompass “lands which are
essentially of wilderness character, but retain sufficient nonconforming
structures, activities, uses or private rights so as
to preclude immediate wilderness classification.” S. Rep. No.
94-1357, at 3 (1976).
Four areas subject to the State’s reserved rights were at
issue: the coastal tidelands, Limantour Estero, Abbotts
Lagoon, and Drakes Estero. The original version of H.R.
8002 designated all four areas as wilderness, not just potential
wilderness additions. But in the spirit of compromise,
Congressman Burton, the sponsor of H.R. 8002, agreed to
amend the bill by designating those areas as potential
wilderness additions, rather than as wilderness. See House
Hearing, prepared statement of Rep. John Burton, at 2. In
doing so, he made clear that all four areas were being
designated as potential wilderness additions due to
California’s reserved mineral and fishing rights. See id. He
noted that, “[a]s ‘potential wilderness,’ these areas would be
designated as wilderness effective when the State ceeds [sic]
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these rights to the United States.” Id. (emphasis added). As
so amended, H.R. 8002 was enacted as the Point Reyes
Wilderness Act in 1976.
Fast forward now to 2005. Shortly before Drakes Bay’s
purchase of the oyster farm closed, the Park Service reiterated
its view that, based on a legal analysis performed by the
Interior Department, no new permits authorizing oyster
farming in Drakes Estero could be issued. The Department’s
legal analysis concluded—bizarrely, given the legislative
history recounted above—that by designating Drakes Estero
as a potential wilderness addition in the Point Reyes
Wilderness Act, Congress had “mandated” elimination of the
oyster farm. The Department never identified anything in the
text of the Act to support that view; it cited only a passage
from the House Report accompanying H.R. 8002. But that
passage “is in no way anchored in the text of the statute,”
Shannon v. United States, 512 U.S. 573, 583–84 (1994), and
thus provides no support for the Department’s interpretation
of the Act.
Even taken on its own terms, however, the passage from
the House Report does not support the Department’s
interpretation. The passage states in full: “As is well
established, it is the intention that those lands and waters
designated as potential wilderness additions will 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.” H.R. Rep. No. 94-1680, at 3 (1976) (emphasis
added). But the oyster farm was not an “obstacle” to Drakes
Estero’s conversion to wilderness status, and no one in
Congress ever expressed that view. To the contrary, as
discussed above, all indications are that Congress viewed the
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oyster farm as a beneficial, pre-existing use whose
continuation was fully compatible with wilderness status.
II
With that background in mind, we can now turn to the
legal issue at the heart of this appeal, which is how to
construe § 124.
Everyone appears to agree that the Park Service’s
conclusion in 2005 that it was legally prohibited from
granting Drakes Bay a special use permit prompted Congress
to enact § 124. If all Congress had wanted to do was “let the
Secretary know his hands were not tied,” as the majority
asserts, § 124 could simply have stated, as it does, that “the
Secretary of the Interior is authorized to issue a special use
permit . . . .” Act of Oct. 30, 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-88,
§ 124, 123 Stat. 2904, 2932. But Congress went further and
added a notwithstanding clause, so that the statute as enacted
reads, “notwithstanding any other provision of law, the
Secretary of the Interior is authorized to issue a special use
permit . . . .” Id. (emphasis added). Our task is to determine
what effect Congress intended the notwithstanding clause to
have.
Given the historical backdrop against which § 124 was
enacted, I think Congress intended the clause to override the
Interior Department’s misinterpretation of the Point Reyes
Wilderness Act. Reading the clause in that fashion is
consistent with the way courts have typically construed
notwithstanding clauses. The Supreme Court has held that
the use of such a clause “clearly signals the drafter’s intention
that the provisions of the ‘notwithstanding’ section override
conflicting provisions of any other section.” Cisneros v.
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Alpine Ridge Grp., 508 U.S. 10, 18 (1993). And we have said
that the basic function of such clauses is to “sweep aside” and
“supersede” any potentially conflicting laws. United States
v. Novak, 476 F.3d 1041, 1046 (9th Cir. 2007) (en banc);
Student Loan Fund of Idaho, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Educ.,
272 F.3d 1155, 1166 (9th Cir. 2001). A notwithstanding
clause often targets those laws that were the “legal sticking
point” for the action Congress intends to authorize.
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. U.S. Army Corps of
Eng’rs, 619 F.3d 1289, 1301 n.19 (11th Cir. 2010).
In this case, no conflicting laws actually prevented the
Secretary from issuing a permit to Drakes Bay. Continued
operation of the oyster farm is fully consistent with the
Wilderness Act, and the farm’s existence is therefore not an
“obstacle” to converting Drakes Estero to wilderness status as
directed by the Point Reyes Wilderness Act. Instead, it was
the Interior Department’s misinterpretation of the Point
Reyes Wilderness Act that proved to be the “legal sticking
point” here. I think the best reading of the notwithstanding
clause is that Congress meant to “override” (“sweep aside,”
“supersede”) that misinterpretation of the law when it enacted
§ 124. Alpine Ridge Grp., 508 U.S. at 18; Novak, 476 F.3d at
1046; Student Loan Fund, 272 F.3d at 1166.
If you accept what I have said so far, only two questions
remain. The first is whether Congress, having overridden the
Department’s misinterpretation of the Point Reyes
Wilderness Act, nonetheless authorized the Secretary to rely
on that misinterpretation as a basis for denying Drakes Bay a
permit. I cannot see any reason why we would construe
§ 124 in that fashion. Under the Administrative Procedure
Act (APA), if an agency bases its decision on a legally
erroneous interpretation of the controlling statute, its decision
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will be deemed arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in
accordance with law. See Safe Air for Everyone v. EPA,
488 F.3d 1088, 1091, 1101 (9th Cir. 2007) (involving an
erroneous interpretation of a state implementation plan that
had the force and effect of federal law). Thus, even without
the notwithstanding clause, it would make no sense to assume
that Congress authorized the Secretary to base his decision on
a misinterpretation of the Point Reyes Wilderness Act. With
the clause, adopting any such construction of § 124 would be
entirely indefensible.
The second (and admittedly closer) question is whether
the Secretary in fact based his decision on the
misinterpretation of the Act that Congress intended to
override by enacting § 124. The majority suggests that the
Secretary based his decision instead on the Interior
Department’s own policies, see Maj. op. at 20 & n.5, 27–28
n.8, but I do not think the Secretary’s written decision
denying the permit supports that view. The Secretary’s
decision states that he gave “great weight” to what he called
“the public policy inherent in the 1976 act of Congress that
identified Drakes Estero as potential wilderness.” The
Secretary read that Act as expressing Congress’s intention
that all “obstacles” to converting Drakes Estero to wilderness
status should be removed. But he erroneously deemed the
oyster farm to be such an obstacle (“DBOC’s commercial
operations are the only use preventing the conversion of
Drakes Estero to designated wilderness”), because he
erroneously assumed that the oyster farm’s continued
operation was “prohibited by the Wilderness Act.” That in
turn led him to conclude— again erroneously—that his
decision to eliminate the oyster farm “effectuate[d]”
Congress’s intent as expressed in the Point Reyes Wilderness
Act.
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These are precisely the same errors of statutory
interpretation the Interior Department made back in 2005.
They are precisely the same errors that prompted Congress to
enact § 124 in the first place. And, in my view, they are
precisely the same errors Congress attempted to supersede by
inserting the notwithstanding clause. Contrary to the
majority’s assertion, the Secretary had no authority to rely on
this misinterpretation of “Congress’s earlier expressed goal”
because the notwithstanding clause eliminated any such
authority. See Maj. op. at 27–28 n.8.
What does the majority offer in response to this analysis?
Some hand waving, to be sure, but nothing of any substance.
Most tellingly, the majority never attempts to argue that the
Interior Department’s interpretation of the Point Reyes
Wilderness Act was correct. Nor could it make that
argument with a straight face given the Act’s clear legislative
history, which the majority never attempts to address, much
less refute. The majority thus has no explanation for
Congress’s inclusion of the notwithstanding clause in § 124
other than the one I have offered: that it was included to
override the Department’s misinterpretation of the Point
Reyes Wilderness Act. The majority claims that the clause
“has a clear function—to convey that prior legislation should
not be deemed a legal barrier” to permit issuance. See Maj.
op. at 20. But that reading of the clause supports my position
because the Secretary did treat “prior legislation”—namely,
the Point Reyes Wilderness Act—as a “legal barrier” to
permit issuance. As I have argued, that is exactly what the
notwithstanding clause was intended to prohibit.
The majority also claims that I have not accorded the
Secretary’s decision the deference it is owed under the
arbitrary and capricious standard, which requires us to give
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due regard to an agency’s exercise of discretion within its
sphere of expertise. See Maj. op. at 27–28 n.8. But I am not
arguing here that the Secretary’s decision must be set aside
because it reflects faulty weighing of permissible policy
factors. We would have no authority to second guess a
decision of that order. What I am saying, instead, is that
§ 124’s notwithstanding clause precluded the Secretary from
basing his decision on the very misinterpretation of the Point
Reyes Wilderness Act that Congress intended to override. A
decision will normally be deemed arbitrary and capricious if
an agency “has relied on factors which Congress has not
intended it to consider.” Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n v. State
Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983). That,
unfortunately, is just what the Secretary did.
In short, I would hold that Drakes Bay is likely to prevail
on the merits of its APA claim. The Secretary’s
misinterpretation of the Point Reyes Wilderness Act, and his
mistaken view that denying the permit request effectuated
Congress’s intent, were “fundamental” to his decision,
rendering the decision “arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not
in accordance with law.” Safe Air for Everyone, 488 F.3d at
1101 (internal quotation marks omitted).
III
Like the majority, I will not spend much time addressing
the remaining preliminary injunction factors—irreparable
harm, balance of the equities, and the public interest. See
Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20
(2008). Considered together, those factors tip in Drakes
Bay’s favor.
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DRAKES BAY OYSTER 50 CO. V. JEWELL
Drakes Bay will suffer irreparable injury to its business
and real-property rights if a preliminary injunction is
erroneously denied. See, e.g., Sundance Land Corp. v. Cmty.
First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 840 F.2d 653, 661 (9th Cir.
1988); Am. Passage Media Corp. v. Cass Commc’ns, Inc.,
750 F.2d 1470, 1474 (9th Cir. 1985). The loss of “an ongoing
business representing many years of effort and the livelihood
of its [owners] constitutes irreparable harm.” Roso-Lino
Beverage Distribs., Inc. v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 749 F.2d
124, 125–26 (2d Cir. 1984) (per curiam).
The balance of equities favors Drakes Bay. The majority
concludes otherwise by noting that Drakes Bay knew when it
acquired the oyster farm that its permit would expire in 2012.
Maj. op. at 37. But that is not the relevant consideration.
Rather, the controlling consideration is that the harm Drakes
Bay will suffer from the erroneous denial of a preliminary
injunction far outweighs the harm the government will suffer
from an erroneous grant of such relief. See Alliance for the
Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1137–38 (9th Cir.
2011); Scotts Co. v. United Indus. Corp., 315 F.3d 264, 284
(4th Cir. 2002); Am. Hosp. Supply Corp. v. Hosp. Prods. Ltd.,
780 F.2d 589, 593 (7th Cir. 1986); Roso-Lino, 749 F.2d at
126. The government will suffer only modest harm if oyster
farming’s eighty-year history in the Estero continues a bit
longer. But if a preliminary injunction is erroneously denied,
Drakes Bay’s business will be destroyed. That is all Drakes
Bay must show to demonstrate that the balance of equities
tips in its favor here.
Finally, the public interest favors neither side. As the
district court observed, federal judges are ill equipped to
weigh the adverse environmental consequences of denying a
preliminary injunction against the consequences of granting
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such relief, or the relative interests in access to Drakes Bay’s
oysters as opposed to unencumbered wilderness. It is the
equities that carry the day in this case, see Nken v. Holder,
556 U.S. 418, 435 (2009) (when the United States is a party,
equities and the public interest merge), and the equities
strongly favor Drakes Bay.

 

For the entire amended opinion 13-15227_order_amended_opinion

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