04-10-14 Addtl sites for information & contributions to Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

Additional sites provide even more information on Drakes Bay Oyster Farm and their efforts to prevent the National Park Service from removing them from Drakes Bay.

You can contribute to Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm.



For more information about the cause, please visit the advocacy site:



For more information about the oyster farm, including how to visit the farm and where to purchase their award-winning oysters, please visit their business site:



02-14-2014: Motion for PEREMPTORY WRIT OF MANDATE (Sup. Court Marin 9AM, 3-11-14)

Motion for Peremptory Writ of Mandate to be heard in the Superior Court of the County of Marin at

9 AM, March 11, 2014,

Department D-22, Honorable Mark A. Talamantes


Agency action must be invalidated when the accused does not receive a fair trial (or administrative hearing), or

when the agency’s decision is not supported by the evidence.

Drakes Bay did not get a fair trial for two reasons.




As a matter of law, an accused does not receive a fair trial when the agency refuses to consider any of the expert testimony submitted in support of the accused



…the decision turned on complex factual questions about whether the farm is environmentally beneficial, as established by the expert testimony submitted by Drakes Bay,

OR environmentally harmful, as asserted by THE THREE LAWYERS who made the staff presentation.

THE THREE LAWYERS made many assertions …, but …hid the truly relevant facts:

which staff conducted the investigation, what qualifications they had, what methods they used, whether they were concealing exculpatory evidence, what evidence they collected, and how they bridged the analytical gap from the raw data to the ultimate conclusions.

“Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented

for the discovery of truth.”

…. Here, because THE THREE LAWYERS did not disclose the facts,


The Commission’s findings, which were drafted by one of

THE THREE LAWYERS, are not supported by the evidence, because 


What lawyers say is not evidence.

Although the Commission’s report occasionally cites to studies from elsewhere,

these citations say nothing about Drakes Estero, where the oyster farm is located.



…the Commission’s decision should be invalidated.


…the Commission’s war … is full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing. The Commission has no evidence to support any of its findings of environmental harm. In fact, the only real evidence points to exactly the opposite conclusion: the environment in Drakes Estero is thriving and Drakes Bay causes no adverse effects.

The commission’s reckless accusations … show … it cannot be trusted to regulate an 80-year old farm that the Commission plainly does not understand.

v.            CONCLUSION

This motion should be granted and the Court should issue a peremptory writ of mandate invalidating the Orders.

For the complete legal document click on the link below:

2014-14-02Memorandum in Support of Motion for Peremptory Writ of Mandate

01-30-2014 Marin Voice: “9th Circuit … Puts a Thumb on the Scale” (of Justice)

Marin Voice: Oyster ruling deserves another look

By Jim Linford
Guest op-ed column

Posted:   01/30/2014 06:11:32 PM PST

THE Ninth Circuit has refused to rehear the oyster farm case with only one judge an Obama appointee and the dissent’s authorvoting to rehear it. The case will now go to the United States Supreme Court who may agree to hear it.

But the Ninth Circuit decision is very odd because, again and again, it puts a thumb on the scale.

First, it needlessly disparages — or at least trivializes — one side in the dispute. The opinion begins:

“This appeal, which pits an oyster farm, oyster lovers and well-known “foodies” against environmentalists aligned with the federal government, has generated considerable attention in the San Francisco Bay Area.”

While the court appears to take judicial notice of the public debate, it apparently does not acknowledge that sustainable agriculture is an environmentalist concern, and, most importantly, that there are environmentalists on both sides of the dispute. The court puts a thumb on the scale.

Second, the court disregards a universal legal maxim, general rules are understood broadly while exceptions, narrowly. In administrative law, the general rule is that courts have jurisdiction to review all governmental action. There are some exceptions to that general rule, but the exceptions should be narrowly applied. However, in the oyster farm case, the court oddly gives a very broad application to an exception — Article 124 — the court thus prevents itself from looking into irregularity in the Secretary of the Interior’s oyster farm decision. The court puts a thumb on the scale.

Third, the court muddles the geography of the oyster farm by failing to distinguish clearly between those parts of the farm that are within the wilderness zone and those parts that, like the farm buildings of the neighboring dairy ranches, are within the pastoral zone.

Only the oyster beds are within the wilderness. But by confuting the pastoral and wilderness zones, the buildings and the beds, the court leaves the impression of far greater impact on the wilderness. The court puts a thumb on the scale.

Fourth, the court treats the legislative intent at the creation of the seashore and the wilderness as something that can be lightly brushed aside by some sort of (in this case, merely tacit) indication of changed intent. However, the initial legislative intent that the agriculturalists — including the oyster farm — would continue to have their use permits renewed was part of the historic bargain between environmentalists and agriculturalists that created the seashore. As anyone who has seen the film “Rebels With a Cause” knows, without that bargain, the lands would have been lost to the urbanization of commercial real estate development. By ignoring the reality of the seashore’s origins, the court puts a thumb on the scale.

Given the historic bargain that preserved the seashore, it is absolutely outrageous to argue that the agriculturalists somehow gave up their traditional use of the land when they were in fact protecting it by transferring ownership to the Park Service.

Sustainable agricultural use has been an inextricable part of the texture of the seashore since its creation.

The Ninth Circuit’s unfair decision ignores that primordial reality and should now be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jim Linford of Marinwood is a semi-retired appellate attorney who has filed a pro bono amicus brief in support of the oyster farm on behalf of an historic resource foundation

01-29-14 DBOC Sues Ca Coastal Commission for Coastal Act Violations

Drakes Bay Oyster Sues Coastal Commission for Coastal Act Violations

Coastal Act requires the protection of aquaculture

Complaint asks for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and civil penalties

INVERNESS, CALIF. — Drakes Bay Oyster filed a cross-complaint today against the California Coastal Commission alleging that the Commission has violated its obligations under the Coastal Act to permit, protect, and promote aquaculture.
“The Coastal Commission has not acted in good faith and must be held accountable,” said Phyllis Faber, a Marin County environmental activist and biologist who was a founding member of the Commission. “Instead of working to protect the coast in keeping with its charter, the Commission has violated the law and abused its power. Drakes Bay Oyster is an environmentally-sound local business that is part of our local heritage—exactly the sort of coastal use that the Commission was formed to protect.”
The support of aquaculture is an important part of the Coastal Act, the law that established the Commission and governs its actions. The law recognizes that “existing developed uses” such as the 80-year old oyster farm are “essential to the economic and social well-being of the people of this state and especially to working persons employed within the coastal zone.”
The Commission has not only failed to fulfill its charter to protect and promote aquaculture, it has also  repudiated agreements it made with the oyster farm to process its permit once the Park Service made public its environmental review. That review was made public in November 2012, but the Commission has continued to withhold the permit.
Drakes Bay has submitted a complete permit application, paid all application fees, and submitted all information required by the Coastal Act. The operations Drakes Bay has proposed for permitting are consistent with all applicable Coastal Act policies.
The complaint sets out five counts on which the Commission is in violation of the Coastal Act, and asks for several types of relief, including a declaration that the Commission has violated the law, an injunction requiring the Commission to process the permit, and civil penalties.
The Coastal Commission case is separate from the oyster farm’s pursuit to appeal their eviction with the Supreme Court but is also ongoing and significant to their continuation as a local business and environmental partner to the area.
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.com.


1.29.14 DBOC’s Cross Complaint

01-14-14 Drakes Bay Oyster Co to appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

Statement from Drakes Bay Oyster Company Regarding Denial of En Banc Rehearing

The following statement is attributed to Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company, in response to today’s Ninth Circuit denial of its request for an en banc rehearing.


“We believe the Court’s decision not to rehear our case is incorrect, and that the dissenting opinion from Judge Watford will prevail,” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster. “Because of that, we are requesting our case be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. We are grateful for our thousands of supporters, partners, customers and patrons that have supported our small, family-owned farm for four generations. We remain committed to succeeding in our fight to remain open and serve our community,” Lunny said.


The small family owned farm has been fighting to remain open despite the National Park Service’s determination to close them down

11-21-13 WMC Goodman Brief Details History of NPS False Science

Goodman Brief Details History of NPS False Science

By Sarah Rolph

Those who have closely followed the Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) controversy know that local scientist Dr. Corey Goodman became involved in April 2007 when Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey contacted Dr. Goodman, based upon his scientific credentials and experience in science and public policy, and asked him to analyze the National Park Service (NPS) science on Drakes Estero.

Kinsey then invited Dr. Goodman to testify as an independent scientist at the May 8, 2007 County hearing as to whether NPS data supported NPS claims. At the time, Dr. Goodman did not know Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Dr. Goodman’s analysis showed that NPS data did not support NPS claims, and he testified that NPS officials misrepresented their own data.

Goodman is passionate on the topic of scientific integrity. At the May 2007 meeting, he stated:

“I believe that public policy decisions can and should be informed by quality science. But this must be science conducted rigorously, without agendas or conflicts-of interest. The political process can be dangerously misled by bad or misused science. One of my greatest concerns when I see science being invoked in public policy debates is to make sure that it is good science and not pseudo-science or — even worse — a blatant misuse of science.”

The history of the DBOC controversy has shown these comments to be prescient. What has happened since 2007 has, sadly, been a blatant misuse of science.

Dr. Goodman’s Amicus brief supporting DBOC’s petition for en banc rehearing in the Ninth Circuit provides an excellent summary of this blatant misuse.

There is no scientific basis for the view—promulgated by the National Park Service (NPS) Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)—that the oyster farm causes significant environmental harm to Drakes Estero.

“To this day,” the brief argues, “NPS and their supporters continue to recite a fictional narrative that they have evidence of environmental harm, when they have no such evidence.”

Goodman’s brief details the shocking history of false NPS claims. As the brief explains:

“The EIS is the latest chapter in a seven-year effort by NPS to claim the oyster farm causes environmental harm. Again and again, NPS issued papers, reports and testimony claiming the oyster farm harms the environment. Each time, NPS had to correct, revise, or retract its claims after being sharply criticized by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the Department of the Interior’s Inspector General and Office of the Solicitor, or Congress. But each correction has proven to be a new opportunity for NPS to misrepresent the science on some new issue—be it eelgrass, sediments, fish, harbor seals, soundscape, and, most recently, a tunicate.

In the end, NPS spent millions of dollars searching for adverse environmental impacts that do not exist. It is difficult not to conclude that this pattern was intentional. It certainly was not harmless.”

The NPS EIS even claims that the oyster farm is bad for water quality.

In fact, the opposite is true: oysters, being filter-feeders, provide environmental benefits to the waters in which they live, which is why oyster restoration projects are under way globally. Just last week, on November 15, the San Francisco Chronicle featured on its front page an exciting update about the oyster restoration effort in San Francisco Bay (an effort made possible by the donation of DBOC oyster shells). (In case you missed it, that article is here: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/2-million-oysters-in-bay-begin-restoration-effort-4984300.php)

The Ninth Circuit majority, having been misled by the NPS EIS, called removal of the oyster farm an “environmental conservation effort.” Unless NPS intends to remove the surrounding cattle ranches (which they publicly promise not to do), the prudent “environmental conservation effort” would be to allow the oysters to continue to filter and clarify the water, not to eliminate the oyster farm.

The false claims in the EIS were so outlandish that Congress expressed concern about “the validity of the science underlying the [Draft EIS]” and directed the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review it.

The NAS review pointed out that the EIS had it backwards—that the oysters are “beneficial” for the environment:  “… the committee determined that an alternate conclusion on the overall impact of DBOC operations could be reached, with the beneficial effects of shellfish filtration outweighing the adverse impacts from sediment disturbance and the low levels of contaminants generated by DBOC activities.”

The EIS review is not the first time the Academy was asked by Congress to review NPS science. The NAS was also asked to get involved in 2009. They convened a scientific panel, held a series of public meetings, and ultimately released its review on NPS’s claims on May 5, 2009. That NAS panel came to two major conclusions:

  • “[NPS] selectively presented, overinterpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information on DBOC operations …”
  • “… there is a lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drakes Estero.”

Nevertheless, the NPS continued to press its false narrative.

The details are incredible. For example, a secret camera program was put in place to monitor oyster workers without their knowledge. Apparently NPS was hoping to find evidence for its claims that oyster boats disturb seals—the three years of data from the secret cameras instead proved the opposite. The Park Service had those photos analyzed by outside experts, and the seal expert who reviewed them found the same result. The Park Service had no other evidence for its claims about seals, so it took the astounding step of changing the report, claiming in the EIS that the review found disturbance to seals—the opposite of what was actually found.

Please read the brief to learn the full story of the Park Service’s malfeasance. You can find it here: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/2013/10/25/13-15227_Amicus_brief_by_Dr_Corey_Goodman.pdf

The Citizen welcomes your letters and essays on this brief, and on all the briefs profiled in this series. Send your comments to editor@westmarincitizen.com




12-07-13 Prof. Mueller Backs Out of Radio Opportunity to debate Dr. Goodman

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: RE: Fwd: East Bay Express: The Oyster Company That Wouldn’t
From: <george@sedonadreams.org>
Date: Sat, December 07, 2013 7:40 pm
To: “Joe Mueller” <joen8ture@gmail.com>

Joe – If at any time during tonight’s show you have the cojones to challenge any statement made by Dr. Goodman, please feel free to call 1-866-37-TRUTH.  George
Joe – For once, please act like a scientist. Count the number of minutes you were speaking in the 1 1/2 hours of our airtime together. Next, count the number of minutes that Dr. Corey Goodman spoke during our one hour show together. You will find that your total air time speaking is greater than Dr. Goodman’s total air time speaking. In addition, please act like an adult: What “bad names” have I called you? Name one. If I were to call you “unprofessional” as you just called me, would that be a “bad name”? As stated previously, the 2 scientists that have been on my shows are you and Dr. Corey Goodman. Were your students “in stitches” when they listened to Dr. Corey Goodman? Will you tell all your students to listen to tonight’s show? Don’t you want all your students to have a good laugh?  If you want separate air time for questions, come on the show tonight. You can have the first 40 minutes, & Corey will come on in the last 20 minutes.   George
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Fwd: East Bay Express: The Oyster Company That Wouldn’t
From: Joe Mueller <joen8ture@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, December 07, 2013 5:43 pm
To: george@sedonadreams.org


Finals are next week and I have had classes all week and all day today. I do not have time nor the energy to “debate” on the air when you are so obviously bias (see Bill O’liely for methods you use) . You rarely give me time to finish the answers to questions you give me and you gave both Goodman and Lunny 3 or more minutes for their closing statements, you gave me less than 30 seconds and cut me off. I let my students listen and all they did was laugh at your methods, you don’t even try to appear to be impartial (just like fox news). Even they know Lunny and Goodman don’t know what they’re talking about.
Why would anybody be so stupid as to “debate” with such a bias host? You’ve called me many bad names (unprofessional just like O’liely)  on the air but not stupid. I guess you must believe that by the looks of your actions. If you would like to hold separate question/ answer forums I would be happy to answer any questions you have about what little Goodman and Lunny actually know or understand. Lunny’s answers had my students in stitches -great comedy for those not so ignorant (oysters as carbon sinks had them laughing in the isles). Great stuff for a critical thinking course.    Joe Mueller

On Sat, Dec 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM, <george@sedonadreams.org> wrote:

Hello, Joe. Please formulate your response to Corey’s statements & scientific data. In the previous email, I invited you to try to present any scientific data or evidence you have which contradicts anything Corey has said on my shows – & have not heard back from you. Remember, the Sedona Dreams show is tonight. Corey will be on the show, & you are invited once again to state your case & back it up with any scientific data you have. Please step up to the plate this time. If the Drake’s Bay oysters are harming – rather than helping – the environment, now is your chance to prove it.  George

12-07-13 Dr. Goodman & Prof. Joe Mueller debate DBOC on Sedona Dreams Radio TONIGHT


George Whitehurst Berry will host

  • ELECTED MEMBER, NAS Dr. Corey Goodman (who uncovered the scientific misconduct of the PRNS)

  • COLLEGE OF MARIN PROF. Joe Mueller (who disagrees with Dr. Goodman)

Both have been on Sedona Dreams Radio previously but separately.

Both are invited for tonight’s 9:00 PM hour to discuss / debate the science behind the DBOC situation (see emails between George and Joe below – NOTE: Dr. Goodman has already committed to being on the show tonight)

Listeners can simply go to truthfrequencyradio.com & click on the “listen live” link on the home page when my show comes on. Listeners can also click on the “schedule” link on the home page to see when the Sedona Dreams show begins. You may also call one of the numbers listed below.

  • Call In 1- 8 6 6 – 3 7 – T R U T H

  • More Ways To Listen Live
    Listen By Phone (main) 8 3 2 – 2 2 5 – 5 3 0 8
    Listen By Phone (back up) 7 1 2 – 4 3 2 – 6 9 8 3

From: george@sedonadreams.org [george@sedonadreams.org]
Sent: Saturday, December 07, 2013 11:28 AM
To: Jane Gyorgy
Subject: [FWD: RE: Fwd: East Bay Express: The Oyster Company That Wouldn’t Leave]

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: RE: Fwd: East Bay Express: The Oyster Company That Wouldn’t
From: <george@sedonadreams.org>
Date: Sat, December 07, 2013 12:24 pm
To: “Joe Mueller” <joen8ture@gmail.com>

Hello, Joe. Please formulate your response to Corey’s statements & scientific data. In the previous email, I invited you to try to present any scientific data or evidence you have which contradicts anything Corey has said on my shows – & have not heard back from you. Remember, the Sedona Dreams show is tonight. Corey will be on the show, & you are invited once again to state your case & back it up with any scientific data you have. Please step up to the plate this time. If the Drake’s Bay oysters are harming – rather than helping – the environment, now is your chance to prove it.  George

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Fwd: East Bay Express: The Oyster Company That Wouldn’t
From: Joe Mueller <joen8ture@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, November 27, 2013 4:28 pm
To: george@sedonadreams.org

George, thank you for your thoughtful response. I will be unavailable this holiday weekend. When I get a moment I will send you comments and a more complete response. Joe

On Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 12:34 AM, <george@sedonadreams.org> wrote:

Joe, thank you for sending me the article. Actually, the entire mass media right-left paradigm is part of a false-choice divide & conquer strategy that derails the focus on facts – as presstitutes like O’Liely & pill-poppin’ Rush know very well. They are both highly paid presstitutes. I, however, have received no monetary compensation whatsoever for my air time on the network – so MY monetary PROFIT has been ZERO. The two scientists that have been on the shows about the Drake’s Bay issue are you & Corey Goodman. Corey has been on one hour-long show. You & I have had 1 1/2 hours together. I would like for you & Corey to be on one show together, so you can both express your viewpoints. This will give you the opportunity to challenge his findings with any facts or data you believe rebuts or disproves them. Will you come on this Saturday’s Sedona Dreams show from 9 to 10:00 PM Pacific Time to express your viewpoint in a point-counterpoint discussion with Corey? I will make sure that you have as much – if not more – air time than Corey does. Please let me know as soon as possible if you will step up to the plate & present your evidence so I can contact him. I have not spoken to him since the previous show. If he is unable to be on the show, you can have the whole hour to present your evidence that any of the statements he made on my show is inaccurate.   George

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Fwd: East Bay Express: The Oyster Company That Wouldn’t Leave
From: Joe Mueller <joen8ture@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, November 26, 2013 8:53 pm
To: george@sedonadreams.org


I thought you might be interested in this article. Amazing you call yourself “alternative” radio and support such a massively profitable operation. I’m guessing that you’re alternative but in the extreme right. You, Rush and Bill O’Reilly should be proud to support such destruction.

Joe Mueller

Professor of Biology

College of Marin

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Amy Trainer <amy@eacmarin.org>
Date: Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 7:10 PM
Subject: East Bay Express: The Oyster Company That Wouldn’t Leave
To: Amy Trainer <amy@eacmarin.org>


12-05-13 PRL Opinion Final Paragraph from “Fear of Facts”

Seven years into this debate, the pattern is clear: I keep offering to discuss the data—a normal part of the scientific process—and people on the other side steadfastly refuse. This, to me, is evidence that they are advocates and not scientists. As the court case moves forward, expect more alarming claims. But don’t expect them to have any more merit than the many previous false, and retracted,claims. Science, after all, is about  debate and discourse, not twisting facts to fit a preconceived ideology. Scientists have three words for such behavior: fear of facts.  
Corey Goodman, a biologist, University of California, San Francisco faculty member and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, lives in Marshall.
Above is the last paragraph of the article that appeared in the Point Reyes Light, see below for the full article:

Fear of facts


by Corey Goodman

When I was a student at Stanford, one of the things I enjoyed most was the way scientists debated facts. No claim could be made without data to back it up, and all data were subject to robust scrutiny and examined for holes and errors. That was how we were taught to seek truth. We were encouraged to ask tough questions, and were taught that science is just as much about disproving old hypotheses as deriving new ones. It was the same culture of science I taught to my students throughout my career.

Thus it came as a shock when, nearly 40 years later, I first got involved in the oyster farm debate and discovered that none of the National Park Service scientists or their local supporters wanted to discuss the data. At Supervisor Steve Kinsey’s request, I examined that data. As I reported at the county hearing on May 8, 2007, the data did not support their accusations.

At that same hearing, Dr. Sarah Allen made her infamous 80 percent claim— that harbor seals were down 80 percent at one location due to the oyster farm. The next day I did what any scientist would do: I wrote and asked her to share the data and methods on which she had based the claim. She never replied.

By that point I had been a practicing scientist for more than 30 years and was an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences. Never in my career had I written such a request and not received an answer. As a result, I did something I had never before done: I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request. I didn’t know how to do it; my friend Mark Dowie taught me.

Then I got another surprise. Park Service Regional Director Jon Jarvis responded and refused to share the data. He even refused to reveal the location at which the 80 percent decline occurred. Later, in the summer of 2007, Senator Dianne Feinstein instructed Mr. Jarvis to give me the data. He did so, and my analysis was clear: the 80 percent decline took place in the wilderness area, far from the oyster farm. When park scientists continued to refuse to talk, I published my findings in this newspaper.

For several years afterward, park supporters publicly said I was wrong. Dr. Allen remained silent. Finally, in 2010, nearly three years after she made her claim, Dr. Allen retracted it.

Since 2007, the park and its supporters have continued to make erroneous claims of environmental harm by the oyster farm, and as each claim is debunked, they abandon it and move on to a new accusation.

At first their focus was harbor seal disturbances. Those claims were put to rest when Dr. Brent Stewart, the marine mammal expert hired by the park to analyze the hundreds of thousands of secret photographs taken of seals and oyster boats, found “no evidence of disturbance.”

One supporter, Dr. Sylvia Earle, evidently hasn’t read Dr. Stewart’s report. Earlier this year, she wrote to the federal court that “seals are being disturbed” by oyster boats. I wrote to her several times and asked to discuss the data. She never replied.

Park supporters have also focused on impacts to eelgrass, but according to the National Academy, eelgrass coverage has doubled in Drakes Estero in recent years. In the environmental impact statement, the focus was on soundscape, but that too was shown to be bogus.

Beginning in 2013, attention shifted to the colonial tunicate Didemnum vexillum, or Dvex. The first thing that should make you suspicious is that park supporters call the organism “marine vomit.” A Google Scholar search shows that serious scientists don’t use such words in their publications. A Google search shows that Amy Trainer of the Environmental Action Committee and her colleagues have used it. It also appears on a website called Street Carnage, under the headline “Marine vomit attacks British coast.” That website has a photo of Clint Eastwood with a rifle pointed at a poster of “Archie Bunker for President” on its home page.

Dvex is an invasive tunicate that colonizes bays and estuaries throughout the temperate waters of the world, from Venice Lagoon to the New Zealand coast. It was observed in Drakes Estero a decade ago, and has been found in San Francisco Bay, Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay, Elkhorn Slough, Morro Bay, Tomales Bay, Humbolt Bay, Port San Luis and Bodega Bay.

According to the National Academy, Dvex and other “non-indigenous species” are present in Drakes Estero, their “avenue of introduction is mostly unknown” and they “appear to be much less conspicuous than in nearby San Francisco Bay.” (Dvex most likely first washed into Drakes Estero in the tides.) Thus, there is nothing surprising about Dvex in Drakes Estero, given its worldwide distribution and appearance up and down the California coast.

Dvex was also reported on eelgrass at both Martha’s Vineyard and Tomales Bay. In 2011, Dr. Ted Grosholz reported it on eelgrass in Drakes Estero.

But in 2013, as other claims of harm were disproven, park supporters sounded a note of alarm about Dvex. In January and October 2013, Jude Stalker, at the request of EAC, studied Dvex in Drakes Estero. She called it “marine vomit” in a letter to EAC, suggesting advocacy, not science. Ms. Stalker ended by writing “please do not hesitate to contact me with questions.” I did just that, contacting her four times, asking to discuss her data. She never replied.

Ms. Stalker found Dvex on some eelgrass in one arm of Drakes Estero, in essentially the same location where Dr. Grosholz found it in 2011. There is no reason to conclude that anything has changed, or that Drakes Estero is more imperiled by this tunicate than any other bay along the California coast or around the world.

Responding to these alarms, the California Coastal Commission now demands that the oyster farm douse Drakes Estero with bleach and vinegar and wrap the oyster racks with massive amounts of plastic, to try to kill the ubiquitous tunicate. Such impaired judgment is another good reason to openly discuss and debate the facts.

Seven years into this debate, the pattern is clear: I keep offering to discuss the data—a normal part of the scientific process—and people on the other side steadfastly refuse. This, to me, is evidence that they are advocates and not scientists. As the court case moves forward, expect more alarming claims. But don’t expect them to have any more merit than the many previous false, and retracted,claims. Science, after all, is about  debate and discourse, not twisting facts to fit a preconceived ideology. Scientists have three words for such behavior: fear of facts.  
Corey Goodman, a biologist, University of California, San Francisco faculty member and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, lives in Marshall.

06-05-13 Attorney Peter Prows Letter to the editor Sacramento Bee

Citizens commission supported oyster farming at Point Reyes

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 5, 2013 – 10:03 am

Re “Oyster farm tries end run on wilderness pact” (Another View, May 26): Amy Meyer, former vice-chairwoman of the Citizens’ Advisory Commission for Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore, suggests that the citizens commission supported an “agreement” from the 1970s that the oyster farm in Drakes Estero would leave in 2012.

But Meyer neglects to mention one key fact: The citizens commission actually supported continued oyster farming in Drakes Estero in perpetuity. In 1976, the commission’s chairman, Frank Boerger, wrote to Congress explaining the oyster farm is “considered desirable by both the public and park managers”, and that the farm should “continue unrestrained by wilderness designation.”

Meyer is certainly entitled to change her opinion of the oyster farm, but she can’t change the historical facts.

— Peter Prows, San Francisco, attorney for Drakes Bay Oyster Co.


06-04-2013 2,424 Companies & Individuals who already endorse DBOC


PLEASE GO TO THE LINK BELOW TO  ADD YOUR ENDORSEMENT and to see who else has joined since this posting. You may make a donation to the cause while there.


Thank you for endorsing Drakes Bay Oyster Farm! We are so very grateful for your support. Please see below for a full list of 137 organizations and 2287 individuals that you have added your name to.

If you have not done so already, please consider donating to the litigation fund. Every bit counts!



b kronenberg from CA
Greg Frichtl from IL
Ken Longo from CA
Susan Kilian from CA
A. Andersen from CA
Aaron Elmone from CA
Aaron Hartley from CA
Aaron Quinn from CA
Abigail Roseman from CA
adam from CA
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adrian castiglia from CA
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aida la point from TX
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Al Meier from CA
Al Ramirez from CA
Al Surprenant from MA
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alejandro lopez from CA
aleks from CA
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06-04-2013 Fort Mill Times Sonoma City Council Calls for Investigation into NPS closure of DBOC

Sonoma City Council Signs Resolution Calling for Investigation into National Park Service Request for Closure of Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Sonoma City Council Supports Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s Efforts Towards Providing Local Jobs and Its Model for Sustainable Agriculture

Fort Mill Times, June 4, 2013

SONOMA, Calif. —

In a unanimous decision at last night’s City Council meeting, the Sonoma City Council approved a resolution that formally offers the Council’s support to save Drakes Bay Oyster Company and calls for the investigation into the National Park Service’s denial of Drakes’ permit to continue to operate at the onshore facilities at Drakes Estero in the coastal area of Marin County. In particular, the City Council commended the oyster farm for its efforts in maintaining its environmental and agricultural stewardship which presents an exemplary model of harmonious co-existence of sustainable agriculture and resource conservation.

The City Council specifically called on Assembly Member Marc Levine, Chair of the Select Agriculture and Environment Committee, to urge the State of California to assert its rights to continue to lease the water bottoms in Drakes Estero for shellfish cultivation which would include giving support to the Fish and Game Commission in its full jurisdiction. Additionally, the City Council requested Congressman Jared Huffman to support a bi-partisan Congressional investigation by the appropriate House Committee of Natural Resources, which he is a member of, into the questionable science that informed Secretary Salazar’s decision not to grant Drakes Bay a permit for the facilities in Drakes Estero.

For years, the Lunny family, who owns and manages the historic oyster farm and the last cannery in California, has been fighting the Interior Department and the National Park Service over their attempts to close down the farm. In a decision made last November, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to issue a permit to allow Drakes Bay to continue farming upon the expiration of its 40-year-lease – a lease which allowed it to operate on public land within the Point Reyes National Seashore and which was created decades after the oyster farm’s inception.

“We are thrilled and honored to have the support of the Sonoma City Councilmembers,” says Kevin Lunny. “The next several weeks are an important time for our community, as we continue to build support and make our voices heard throughout Marin County, the state of California, and the country. With the support of the Councilmembers and thousands of community members, we will continue to fight to keep our historic, family-owned and community-loved oyster farm open.”

The Lunnys, who have been pressing for an extension of their lease for years, state that Salazar based his decision on flawed environmental impact studies and contend that the State, not the National Park Service, retains the right to farm shellfish in Drakes Estero and they have already extended that agreement until 2029.

Drakes Bay has already garnered the support of many individuals and organizations within the community who view the farm as a respected steward of the land and representative of the best in environmental protection. Supporters of the Save Drakes Bay Oyster Farm include California Senator Dianne Feinstein, a group of restaurant owners and sustainable food advocates, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, as well as many leading scientists and environmentalists throughout the Bay Area. For a full list of Drakes Bay’s 2,000+ supporters please visitwww.drakesbayoyster.com/howtohelp/endorse.php.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

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


06-03-2013 City of Sonoma Unanimously Passes Resolution in Support of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

06-03-2013 The City of Sonoma unanimously passed a resolution in support of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm today. In conclusion, the resolution reads:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council of the City of Sonoma

1 Requesting Assembly Member Marc Levine, Chair of the Select Agriculture and Environment Committee, to urge the State of California to assert its rights to continue to lease the water bottoms in Drakes Estero for shellfish cultivation which would include giving support to the Fish and Game Commission in its full jurisdiction; and

2 Request Congressman Jared Huffman to support the bi-partisan Congressional investigation by the appropriate House Committee of Natural Resources which he is a member of, into the questionable science that informed Secretary Salazar’s decision not to grant the Oyster Farm a permit for the facilities onshore Drakes Estero; and

3 Commends and lends its support of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in its heroic efforts to seek a permit to continue to utilize the onshore facilities and thus to preserve the last oyster cannery in California and the many jobs it provides for women, in particular, maintaining the environmental and agricultural stewardship which presents an expemplary template of harmonious co-existence of sustainable agriculture and wilderness.

     ADOPTED this 3rd day of June, 2013 by the following vote:

                    AYES:                Barbose, Rouse, Brown, Gallian, Cook

                    NOES:                None

                    ABSENT:          None

and was signed by Ken Brown, Mayor and attested to by Gay Johann, City Clerk

For the complete text of the resolution click on, or copy and paste, the link below

Sonoma City of Supporting Drakes Bay Oyster Farm 060313

05-14-2013 Russian River Times “What lies in Drake’s Estero”

Journalism is supposed to be the first draft of history, not the first rewrite of press releases and sound bites. In recent weeks, some journalists reporting on the Estero controversy say ‘they would not touch the science,” not realizing the irony that they are essentially saying they are reporting without knowledge. The word ‘science’ itself comes from the Latin scientia, ”to know.”

Russian River Times posted 05-14-2013

What lies in Drake’s Estero

Journalism is supposed to be the first draft of history, not the first rewrite of press releases and sound bites. In recent weeks, some journalists reporting on the Estero controversy say ‘they would not touch the science,” not realizing the irony that they are essentially saying they are reporting without knowledge. The word ‘science’ itself comes from the Latin scientia, ”to know.”To report on scientific issues, it is not necessary for reporters to ‘do’ science. For example, to return to the issue of sound as a major impact in the Estero: when the NPS and its EIS consultant substitute the sound of a high- powered jet ski for a small four stroke outboard–as National Park Service did in preparing the Environmental Impact Statement–and claim the Estero is damaged by the sound, it raises issues that can only be answered by the basic journalism questions, Who? What? When? Where? Why?

The standard for journalistic coverage of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company controversy seems to be based on guilt by six degrees of separation. The bulk of the recent reporting on the ‘ right wing conspiracy to destroy the wilderness act’  claim against DBOC is based solely on the fact that one attorney representing DBOC’s Kevin Lunny is a Republican who worked in Washington for a few months for a charity funded by right-wing interests.

By these standards, we assume that if the oyster-farm opponents report to the press that a lawyer supporting DBOC had defended an arsonist, this would be proof that Kevin Lunny, the DBOC owner, is burning down the Estero.  Much of the general press has shown an equal lack of standards in the other allegations against DBOC, with no real investigation, relying instead on unsubstantiated claims in the press releases of oyster-farm opponents, the latest of which is merely the last in a long line of attempts by National Park Service and its supporters to smear the Lunny family and present them as some sort of environmental criminals.

The press has no excuse for this type of journalism, which merely restates claims from anti-oyster-farm press releases without even the most basic fact checking. There is a marvelous expression in the British press, ‘Churnalism,’ which aptly describes much of the press and TV coverage, e.g. the regurgitation of recent press releases from Amy Trainer of West Marin Environmental Action Committee and the PBS Newshour report, “Strange Bedfellows Join Fight to Keep Oyster Farm in Operation.” There is simply no excuse for this type of inept and biased reporting.

Minimal research uncovers the facts. Both the National Academy of Science study (which found NPS had misrepresented the science), and the Marine Mammal Committee report (whose experts found no incompatibility with oyster operations and the seal population), have summaries and complete lists of all documents on their website. These including letters from the oyster-farm opponents and supporters.  Likewise, the response to the draft EIS contains statements from National Marine Fisheries, Cal Fish and Game that conflict directly with the allegations of the oyster-farm opponents.

Small local papers like the Russian River Times report stories that impact their communities, often over several years, while the larger press tends to only pick up on the sensational, often from unsubstantiated press releases and statements from advocacy groups. The truth is that NPS and its allies have conducted a long national campaign to portray the Lunnys as environmental criminals, damaging wilderness for personal gain. Locally, the Lunnys are known as a third-generation ranching family, well respected as responsible stewards and valued members of the community. Examples include their assistance with grazing research to support rangeland carbon sequestration, supporting shellfish restoration in San Francisco Bay, local composting projects, and working with endangered species restoration.

Ironically, the NPS also celebrated the Lunny’s contributions in a 2007 publication about stewardship in National Parks entitled, ‘Stewardship Begins with People.’ Page 45 shows a photo of Kevin Lunny and Seashore rancher David Evans and the statement that ”…both have been recognized for their environmental stewardship and innovation.”  In a currently available on-line version of this NPS document, Lunny has been literally airbrushed out.  He was made to disappear!  What is disturbing is that the Lunny’s environmental stewardship is ignored in most of the press coverage where NPS and its allies have attempted to destroy the Lunny’s reputation for stewardship. Not five months after the publication date back in 2007, Point Reyes Seashore Superintendent Don Neubacher told Marin County Supervisors that Lunny was an environmental criminal.

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 to the public. 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 previously documented 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 someone’s 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



05-14-2013 Greenwire – by Emily Yehle: Rushed USGS report misrepresented biologist’s findings

“The U.S. Geological Survey published a report that misrepresented a biologist’s findings, lending support to the National Park Service’s claims that a California oyster farm disturbs nearby seals.

USGS is the latest agency to get sucked into the years-long controversy over whether the National Park Service manipulated science to shore up public support for closing Drakes Bay Oyster Co. In the latest twist, documents show USGS reported that a series of photos linked oyster boats to disturbed seals — when, in fact, a marine biologist had told the agency that the photos showed no such link.”



Rushed USGS report on oyster farm misrepresented biologist’s findings

Emily Yehle, E&E reporter

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The U.S. Geological Survey published a report that misrepresented a biologist’s findings, lending support to the National Park Service’s claims that a California oyster farm disturbs nearby seals.

USGS is the latest agency to get sucked into the years-long controversy over whether the National Park Service manipulated science to shore up public support for closing Drakes Bay Oyster Co. In the latest twist, documents show USGS reported that a series of photos linked oyster boats to disturbed seals — when, in fact, a marine biologist had told the agency that the photos showed no such link.

The inaccuracy is buried in a 27-page, somewhat technical report USGS completed at the behest of NPS. But it cuts to the core of the passionate debate over whether the farm’s activities disturb the seals that breed on a protected sandbar in Drakes Bay.

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced last year that he would not renew the farm’s lease in Point Reyes National Seashore, ending more than 70 years of mariculture in Drakes Bay. But the farm continues to fight the decision, filing a lawsuit that claims, among other things, that Salazar did not properly follow the National Environmental Policy Act.

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is still open, operating under an emergency injunction. A U.S. district court judge denied the farm’s request for a permanent injunction until the lawsuit is resolved — and today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco will hear oral arguments in the farm’s appeal of that decision.

But what has become a tangled web of legal arguments began with one claim from NPS six years ago: that the farm disturbed seals.

The USGS report was the last piece of uncriticized evidence.

‘Breathing down my neck’

Last year, NPS released an environmental impact statement that concluded the farm’s continued operations would have “long-term moderate adverse impacts” on seals. But the agency has had a hard time proving that impact, prompting a series of missteps that started with a false claim in 2007 that the oyster operation had decreased the harbor seal population by 80 percent.

Since then, evidence has been shaky at best. The Marine Mammal Commission concluded in 2011 that NPS had “scant” data to prove a disturbance of harbor seals; a peer-reviewed article claiming evidence in fact showed only weak correlation. That left only one report indicating a potential disturbance: the USGS review of about 165,000 photos taken of Drakes Bay in 2008.

On the whole, the review is careful to point out that the photos are of poor quality and little use. But USGS also reports that on two days, boat traffic was “directly connected, or at least associated with,” disturbing seals enough that they flushed into the water.

The environmental impact statement, in turn, exaggerates that finding, claiming that the USGS report “attributed” two flushing disturbances to boat traffic.

Both are wrong. Brent Stewart, a senior research scientist at Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute, concluded that the photos did not show boats disturbing seals on either of the two days. Stewart is listed on the USGS report as an author — and his observations are the basis for the USGS conclusions on seal disturbances.

The reason for the inaccuracy in the USGS report is unclear. But a series of emails reveals that the agency rushed to complete its analysis, due to pressure from NPS.

William Lellis, the deputy associate director of ecosystems at USGS, assigned the project to research ecologist Carrie Blakeslee on Feb. 7, 2012. In an email, he wrote that the analysis needed to be done by the end of March “to brief Secretary Salazar who needs to make a decision on Wilderness Status for the park.”

But by May, it still wasn’t complete, and USGS began to apply pressure to Stewart to submit his commissioned report.

“NPS will be breathing down my neck this week, when do you think you’ll be able to transmit something?” Laurie Allen, a USGS senior science adviser, wrote to Stewart.

Stewart did review a draft of the final report and did not initially point out the inaccuracy in the text. But the version he reviewed did not include the final figures and appendix, which also contained errors.

USGS publicly released its report Nov. 26. Three days later, Salazar announced he would not renew the farm’s lease.

But in early December, Lellis reached out to Stewart, asking him to again review the photos on the two days when boats allegedly disturbed seals. Stewart responded with a supplemental analysis that found no such disturbance.

On one of the days, the seals moved around, but “I don’t consider this to be a flush but rather likely a startle of most seals owing to a sudden movement or startle of one or two seals with or without external stimulus,” Stewart wrote.

USGS never corrected its report. In an email to Greenwire, USGS spokeswoman Anne-Berry Wade declined to comment.

“Because of the ongoing litigation, it would be inappropriate for the USGS to offer any specific comments,” she said, adding that the report was peer-reviewed and has been publicly available on the USGS website since it was published.

Another claim of misconduct

The watchdog agency Cause of Action released the emails this week, arguing that they show Salazar based his decision to close the farm on faulty science. The right-leaning group is representing Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in its lawsuit and obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request.

But that request — which asked for all documents related to the USGS report — did not produce Stewart’s supplemental analysis. Corey Goodman, a neurobiologist who has spent years double-checking research from NPS, obtained that analysis directly from Stewart. Yesterday, he filed a misconduct complaint — the latest of several — to new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, claiming that USGS and NPS have deceived the public.

Interior declined to comment, citing the ongoing court case.

Goodman wants Jewell to convene a blue-ribbon panel of independent scientists to investigate the allegations, an unlikely scenario.

The farm operators, meanwhile, hope it will help their argument that Salazar relied on science to close the farm. When Salazar announced his decision last year, he emphasized that it was not based on science but rather on NPS policy and the need to remove the farm and restore the area to full wilderness.

But the emails show Interior’s top officials were briefed on the USGS report in the days before Salazar’s decision.

“NPS and their supporters keep saying that the science isn’t important in the federal court case, but that just isn’t true,” Drakes Bay Oyster Co. owner Kevin Lunny said. “The Department of Justice lawyers have used these false science claims to argue that the public good favors the removal of our oyster farm, and with it, the loss of 40 percent of the state’s oysters and 30 jobs.”

05-14-2013 Watch the US District 9 Court of Appeals proceedings

US District 9 Court of Appeals heard the case for the injunction on 05/14/2013.

Follow this link to see and hear the court proceedings:



05-14-2013 Impressions from the hearing

They cut off the line attendees right before me but had set up televisions in courtroom #4 and in the cafe. Upon my arrival at the cafe the proceedings having begun, and Amber Abassi already speaking, I did not get to hear the opening nor the introductions. Impressions varied. Below are some:

The judge on left (from audience view) sounded as if he got it, the one on the right sounded as if he didn’t, the one in the middle, inconclusive.

Another said:

“Going into the hearing, I knew that this would be a legal discussion, with judges probing lawyers about legal propositions.  Judges circulated questions to lawyers late last week.  To read much into the legal probing is a fool’s errand.  They were tough on both sides.  They appear to be well-read, up on the issues and fully prepared.  All have reputations for being straight-shooters. “

One other person said something that made me laugh:

“A hearing is something best left to attorneys to describe – also a hearing is like going to a seance in a way, we are all trying to psychically read meaning and leaning into the questions posed by the judges.”

This one was special:

I find it fascinating (or rather, a sad commentary on the journalism profession these days) that none of the reports I’ve read so far have actually made the distinction that this hearing was about whether to keep the injunction in place or not, NOT deciding the case itself.  

Also, as an environmental studies professor, I could NOT be more irritated by the judge that asked, if the oyster farm was dismantled, “won’t it return to its natural state?” — as if its natural state is some fixed, identifiable quality that the ecosystem would just magically “return to.”  that judge needs some environmental studies classes!!!”


05-14-2013 Ninth circuit hears argument on whether interior secretary is above the law – PLF Liberty Blog

Today, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Drakes Bay Oyster Company presents its case for enjoining the Secretary of the Interior and the National Park Service from destroying its business before its legal claims can even be heard in court.  You can follow my live tweet from today’s oral argument on twitter @TonyFrancoisEsq, #SaveDBOC, starting at 9:00 AM Pacific.

At the heart of this case is the rule of law.  Do we have a government of laws which every one of us, the government as well as the governed, must observe?  Or do we have a government of elites, who get to make it up as they go and cannot be held accountable?

In 2009 Congress enacted a straightforward authority for the Secretary to issue Drake’s Bay Oyster Company a new permit for its shellfish farm in Point Reyes National Seashore.  It includes the phrase “notwithstanding any other provision of law” to prevent the Secretary from denying the permit based on a prior congressional designation of “potential wilderness” surrounding the oyster farm.  Simple, yes?

When former Secretary Salazar denied the oyster farm a new permit last November, he claimed that actually this statute “expressly exempts my decision from any substantive and legal requirements.”


Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar writes that Congress has exempted him from every other law it ever enacted.

Read that again.  That is a member of the President’s cabinet, asserting that Congress has licensed him to do, well, whatever he wants.  Everyone who cherishes liberty should be alarmed by the federal government’s interpretation of this law.

Pacific Legal Foundation defends liberty through the rule of law.  Without the rule of law, our property and freedom mean nothing.  As it hears Drake’s Bay Oyster Company’s appeal today, and when it decides it, the Ninth Circuit needs to remember the importance of the rule of law, and needs to reject the tyrannical assertion that Congress is, or can be, in the business of exempting members of the President’s cabinet from every law that every president ever signed.

For the video, Click on the link below:

Ninth circuit hears argument on whether interior secretary is above the law – PLF Liberty Blog.

05-13-13 NPS and USGS Falsified Findings of Harbor Seal Distrubances

DBOC press release 5_13_13

BSS Suppl review

CSG to Jewell.05_13_13

CSG to Jewell.appendix 1

CSG to Jewell.appendix 2

CSG to Jewell.appendix 3

CSG to Jewell.appendix 4

CSG to Jewell.appendix 5

timeline and quotes from USGS FOIA response.05_13_13

USGS Dr. Lellis & Dr. Goodman conversation and emails

For immediate release: NPS and USGS Falsified Finding of Harbor Seal Disturbances at Drakes Estero

New Information Shows False Science Misinformed Interior Secretary Salazar for His Decision

Inverness, California, May 13, 2013 — A scientific misconduct complaint was filed today with Interior Secretary Jewell. This complaint was based in part on new information only made available this past week via both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and from the independent scientist who did the harbor seal behavioral analysis for the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The complaint, filed by Dr. Corey Goodman, concerns the NPS and USGS claim – shown to be false – that the independent scientist – Dr. Brent Stewart – found the oyster farm disturbed harbor seals at Drakes Estero, which he did not. The complaint alleges the public was deceived.

The new information shows that evidence of disturbances was falsified. This revelation has profound implications for Secretary Salazar’s decision to not renew the oyster farm permit, showing that USGS and NPS apparently misinformed Secretary Salazar using scientific claims they knew were incorrect, and that the Department of Justice continues to use the same false science to misinform the federal court.

The data in question are included in the NPS Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released in late November 2012. The FEIS alleges that oyster boats have a “moderate adverse impact” on the harbor seals at Drakes Estero, a claim the new information shows is not true. Around the beginning of 2012, NPS asked USGS to independently analyze the 300,000 photographs from secret cameras placed along the shore of Drakes Estero from 2007 to 2010. The USGS scientists picked 165,000 photographs from 2008 for their analysis. They sent all of the series of photographs that showed possible harbor seal disturbances to an independent harbor seal behavior expert, Dr. Brent Stewart of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.

Last May, Dr. Stewart filed his report that found “no evidence of disturbance” by the oyster farm, but USGS misquoted him and claimed he found two correlated disturbances, and the NPS FEIS further misrepresented both USGS and Dr. Stewart and claimed he found cause and effect, and with it, NPS found a moderate adverse impact. Two serial misrepresentations led a finding of “no evidence of


disturbance” by the independent expert to be transformed to a finding of causation of disturbances by NPS in its FEIS.

This past week, USGS released a series of emails in response to a FOIA request submitted in December 2012. Those emails show that USGS and NPS personnel believed that the analysis of the NPS photos had very high priority and was fast tracked to inform Secretary Salazar’s decision on the oyster farm permit. The emails also reveal that USGS personnel apparently briefed two Assistant Secretaries of Interior on July 3 to inform the Secretary’s decision. It appears the Secretary was briefed with false science.

In early December 2012, questions were raised concerning the USGS and NPS claims vs. the independent scientist’s findings. As a result, USGS personnel went back to the independent expert and asked him to re-review the NPS photographs. Dr. Stewart’s supplemental analysis, filed with USGS on December 10, 2012, shows that he confirmed his initial analysis, namely, the finding of no evidence of disturbances by the oyster farm. Up until this past week, Dr. Stewart’s supplemental analysis has not been made public.

Upon request from the office of Congressman Jared Huffman, Dr. Stewart provided this report to the Congressman’s staff nearly two weeks ago, and released those same documents upon request from Dr. Goodman this past week. This supplemental report, and the request and submittal emails, were not included in the USGS response to the FOIA request, raising questions as to whether USGS withheld the material in violation of FOIA, or alternatively, whether USGS personnel used private email addresses to circumvent FOIA. Regardless, this key document was not provided in response to the FOIA request.

“After receiving the supplemental report, the USGS should have retracted its own report, informed NPS that its FEIS contained major mistakes, and informed the Secretary that he was misinformed for his decision,” said Dr. Goodman. “But it appears as if none of this happened. Dr. Stewart’s supplemental report was suppressed, and with it, the evidence showing misconduct was covered up.”

Although Interior stated that the science was not important to the Secretary’s decision, the new documents paint a very different picture, one in which NPS was “chomping at the bit” for the USGS scientific analysis of the photographs because of the Secretary’s “deadlines for deciding on the permit.”

“NPS and their supporters keep saying that the science isn’t important in the federal court case, but that just isn’t true,” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. “The Department of Justice lawyers have used these false science claims to argue that the public good favors removal of our oyster farm, and with it, the loss of 40 percent of the State’s oysters and 30 jobs.” The next hearing for the lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled for May 14, 2013.

Dr. Goodman requested that Interior Secretary Jewell convene a blue-ribbon panel of independent scientists to investigate the allegations that USGS and NPS personnel intentionally misrepresented the findings of the independent scientist concerning the oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Barbara Garfien Barbara.garfien@gmail.com 415-717-0970

Dr. Corey Goodman


mobile 650-922-1431


04/25/2013 Dr. Jeff Creque on Red Herrings in Drakes Estero

Red Herrings in Drakes Estero

Jeff Creque, Ph.D. Land Stewardship Consultation, responded on April 25  to a letter in Marin Voice written by Dr. Marty Griffin. Below is his response as it appeared in the West Marin Citizen, the Marin IJ, as well as the Press Democrat.


Dr. Marty Griffin’s years of service to the cause of conservation in Marin are appreciated, but his opinion piece (MV, 5/2/13) reminds me of Michael Moore’s comment at the Oscars some years ago; we do indeed live in fictitious times.


Dr. Griffin reviews the many charges brought against the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm (DBOF) by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) in its ongoing collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS) to eliminate aquaculture on over 55% of the State of California’s water bottom shellfish leases, but he fails to explain the CCC’s ham-handed attempts to regulate an activity over which it has no statutory authority.


If DBOF is, technically, out of compliance with CCC regulations, it is due entirely to the success of the bureaucratic pincer move deployed jointly by the CCC and NPS.   There have been no “expanded operations” by the oyster farm.  Johnson’s Oyster Company (JOC) harvested some 800,000 pounds annually prior to the company’s collapse in 2004.  DBOF has gradually rebuilt the farm’s annual harvest to about 400,000 pounds, half that of JOC.


Oysters may be an irrelevant luxury food item for Dr. Griffin, but they remain one of the few sustainable sources of marine protein on the planet.  While global fisheries collapse, sea levels rise and oceans acidify, estuary restoration efforts throughout the world attempt to restore oyster beds as rapidly as possible.  Only in Drakes Estero are reputed environmentalists working overtime to destroy our capacity to produce what the Monterey Bay Aquarium calls a “super green” sea food.


Dr. Griffin might read the National Academy of Sciences report he misquotes to learn more about Didemnum vexillum, which is ubiquitous in estuaries globally. If he did, he would know oyster culture did not cause its presence in Drakes Estero, and it is not possible to eradicate, even if all cultured oysters were removed.   He would learn that the NAS found no evidence of environmental harm from shellfish aquaculture in the Estero and recommended development of a Collaborative Management Plan to enable aquaculture to continue, and to address the concerns raised in this overheated debate with legitimate scientific inquiry, in an adaptive management framework.


Most importantly, I want to assure Dr. Griffin that there is nothing frivolous about our lawsuit, undertaken only after much deliberation and careful legal analysis by our pro bono legal team.  The anguish expressed during our pre-filing deliberations by Ms. Faber, whose own lifetime of laudable service to the cause of conservation in Marin rivals even Dr. Griffin’s, including her tireless efforts to bring about the Coastal Act and her service on the original CCC, was, for me, particularly sobering.


As made clear in our legal brief, the CCC has greatly exceeded its authority in this matter, working against its own statutory requirement to support coastal dependent activities, particularly aquaculture, and both replicating and exceeding authorities of the Fish and Game Commission, in direct violation of the Coastal Act.


With 14.5 million residents to feed in the SF Bay Area today, and 21 million projected by mid-century, the importance of this critical, sustainable, nearly perfect marine protein resource is increasingly obvious to all who care about the future of sustainable food production in our region.  DBOF is an archetypical example of exactly the type of food production we need more, not less of.  It is part of the solution to our growing dilemma; it is most certainly not part of the problem.


I urge those in our community who share our concerns to become involved in this issue while there is still time.


Jeffrey Creque, Ph.D.

Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture


908 Western Ave

Petaluma 94952



04-22-13 Drakes Bay Oyster Company Submits Brief, argues “injunction to be maintained, Secy’s action to be overturned.”

 “Although nearly fifty years have passed since California conveyed Drakes Estero to Defendants (NPS), they only recently became obsessed with eliminating the oyster farm, which resulted in illegitimate science, misrepresentations of data, incorrect interpretations of law, and violations of NEPA and their own regulations. DBOC has shown that it is likely to prevail on its claims calling these errors to account.”


“In their obsession to eliminate the oyster farm, Defendants have abused the law, the facts, the science—and especially the oyster farm, its employees, and their families. This Court should reverse the district court’s order and maintain the injunction.”


(From DBOC Brief to Ninth Circuit – Filed on Earth Day 2013)



The following is the introduction to the Brief filed by DBOC to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the injunction be maintained – and the Secretary’s actions be overturned):

No. 13-15227







SALLY JEWELL, in her official capacity as Secretary,

U.S. Department of the Interior; U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR;

U.S. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE; and JONATHAN JARVIS, in his official capacity as Director, U.S. National Park Service,



On Appeal from the United States District Court

for the Northern District of California

(Hon. Yvonne Gonzales Rogers, Presiding)

District Court Case No. 12-cv-06134-YGR






By its plain language, Section 124 authorized the Secretary to issue a special use permit (SUP) “notwithstanding” any laws that would bar Defendants from doing so. Defendants argue that Section 124 precluded judicial review of the Secretary’s decision to deny the SUP. But Defendants have provided no evidence, much less the required clear and convincing evidence, that Congress intended this result. Instead, Defendants advance a construction of Section 124’s notwithstanding clause that ignores both the text and the context of the law. Congress intended Section 124 to be an asymmetrical, limited-purpose statute that would  benefit DBOC, override any legal impediment to continued oyster farming, and result in an extension of the SUP—the statute was not intended to harm DBOC or to insulate a permit denial from judicial review. The district court was wrong to conclude that it lacked jurisdiction.

The district court and Defendants are also wrong on the merits of this case.  For example, the Secretary asserted that he could not issue the permit because doing so would “violate” the 1976 Acts, and that “[Section] 124 …in no way overrides the intent of Congress as expressed in the 1976 act” (original emphasis deleted). These statements confirm that Defendants got the law backwards: They thought that the 1976 Acts trumped Section 124, when in fact Section 124 was passed to override any restrictions to permit issuance that might have been imposed by the 1976 Acts.

When the Secretary asserted that the intent of Congress, as expressed in 1976, was “to establish wilderness at the estero,” that too was wrong. Congress designated Drakes Estero as potential wilderness (rather than actual wilderness) because Defendants told Congress that the State of California’s reserved rights were inconsistent with a wilderness designation. Following the 1976 Acts, Defendants maintained their position that the estero could not be designated as wilderness, and they endorsed oyster farming in the estero. Although nearly fifty years have passed since California conveyed Drakes Estero to Defendants, they only recently became obsessed with eliminating the oyster farm, which resulted in illegitimate science, misrepresentations of data, incorrect interpretations of law, and violations of NEPA and their own regulations. DBOC has shown that it is likely to prevail on its claims calling these errors to account.

Finally, Defendants are wrong when they argue that “the central equitable issue in this case” is a “bargain,” struck between the United States and the oyster farm in 1972, in which “[t]he shellfish business could remain in Drake’s Estero for forty years, and then the Estero would return to the American people.” Defendants’

Response Brief (RB) 17, 49. The 40-year “bargain” could apply only to the onshore area—not the estero—because only the onshore area was covered by the

40-year Reservation of Use and Occupancy (RUO). And the RUO specifically provided for a renewable lease that could be extended beyond 40 years by a SUP.

The real “bargain,” which was struck when California transferred the land to the United States in 1965, allowed the State to continue leasing the estero for oyster

farming in perpetuity. DBOC does not lease the estero itself from Defendants, but rather from California, whose most recent lease was issued in 2004 and runs until


In their obsession to eliminate the oyster farm, Defendants have abused the law, the facts, the science—and especially the oyster farm, its employees, and their

families. This Court should reverse the district court’s order and maintain the injunction.

For the full text of the filing, click on the documents below:

04-22-13 Docket No 49-1_Reply Brief

04-22-13 Docket No 49-2_Appellants’ Further Excerpts of Record

04-08-13: Marin IJ VA Marine Resources Comm. begins largest oyster replenishment program

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will begin the largest oyster replenishment program in the state’s history. The $2 million effort will plant oyster shells on state-owned beds in the James, the York, the Rappahannock and other places in the bay to create habitats conducive to the nourishment of oysters. Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for the appropriation; the General Assembly approved his request. The 2013 assembly session proved an excellent one for the bay.

Recent years have reported gratifying news regarding the bay’s oysters, which are staging a comeback. Aquaculture is thriving in the bay and along its tributaries. Smart policies by the state and by private concerns contribute to the restoration. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been an effective advocate for the bivalves. A healthy bay produces flourishing oyster populations; flourishing oyster populations promote the bay’s health.

Editorial: And so to beds

Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 12:00 am

In “Consider the Oyster,” M.F.K Fisher wrote: “An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life.” May and the succeeding months will see great excitement in the Chesapeake. The results will not be dreadful.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will begin the largest oyster replenishment program in the state’s history. The $2 million effort will plant oyster shells on state-owned beds in the James, the York, the Rappahannock and other places in the bay to create habitats conducive to the nourishment of oysters. Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for the appropriation; the General Assembly approved his request. The 2013 assembly session proved an excellent one for the bay.

After attaching themselves to the shells, oyster larvae will grow to market size in about three years. They then will delight gourmets in stews, pan roasts and other dishes. Oysters on the half shell remain the ultimate expression of the gastronomic arts.

Recent years have reported gratifying news regarding the bay’s oysters, which are staging a comeback. Aquaculture is thriving in the bay and along its tributaries. Smart policies by the state and by private concerns contribute to the restoration. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been an effective advocate for the bivalves. A healthy bay produces flourishing oyster populations; flourishing oyster populations promote the bay’s health.

The editor of the Editorial Pages spent Easter weekend in Boston, where he enjoyed a late lunch at B&G Oysters, which offers a dozen different oysters at every seating. The Saturday lunch list included not only varieties from New England and the Canadian Maritimes (the Ninigrets from Rhode Island took honors, as they usually do) but also Chincoteagues. The dinner selections included oysters from the James. On March 31, Jax Fish House in Denver celebrated Oyster Month with a feast featuring oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters, whose owners, Ryan and Travis Croxton, attended the festivities. The cousins entertained diners with stories about their family trade. The good word has spread.

The VMRC initiative will build on a firm foundation. The seeding of the beds will put into motion one of the wonders of our world. Infant oysters are called spats, whose lives Fisher described in delicious prose:

“It is to be hoped, sentimentally at least, that the spat – our spat – enjoys himself. Those two weeks are his one taste of vagabondage, of devil-may-care free roaming. And even they are not quite free, for during all his youth he is busy growing a strong foot and a large supply of sticky cement-like stuff. If he thought, he might wonder why.”

We will take a dozen dressed with lemon and washed down with a Virginia white. And we wish we could add a B&G lobster roll and round out the meal with the eatery’s poached pear.

03/23/2013 Federal Budget vote

Following a marathon session yesterday, the US Senate passed on a 50-49 vote, a Federal budget that

  • revised the budget for 2013; and,
  • established budget levels for federal spending through 2023.

More than 400 amendments were filed (formally submitted), and of that, about one in five (around 80 – don’t have exact number) were actually debated, considered and then subject to a voice or recorded vote.  The  Senate adjourned at 5:23 am (Eastern time).

One of those 400 amendments — Senators Vitter (R-LA) and Feinstein (D-CA) co-sponsored a bi-partisan amendment to extend the DBOC lease for 10 years (consistent with the previously enacted statutory authority in 2009).  Along with more than 300 other amendments, this amendment, in the rush and crush to complete action on the budget, did not get considered.

Like Senator Feinstein, NPS false science and the Interior Department’s failed (corrupt) IG investigations compelled Senator Vitter’s initial involvement in Drakes Estero issues in 2011.  Senator Vitter also represents one of the largest shellfish growing states and regions (Gulf Coast).

The Vitter-Feinstein effort signals a new bi-partisan effort to correct Secretary Salazar’s agenda-driven decision to shut down the nearly 100-year old iconic oyster farm in Drakes Estero.   Both Senators, working together, will have other opportunities to correct this injustice.

Late yesterday afternoon, Cause of Action issued the following statement:

Today, Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) co-sponsored an amendment to the Senate Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which, if passed, would allow Drakes Bay Oyster Company to remain open for 10 more years. The amendment would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to reinstate the reservation of use and occupancy and special use permits to conduct certain commercial operations.” 

Dan Epstein, Cause of Action’s executive director commented on the proposal:

“Government accountability is not a partisan issue—neither is saving jobs.  This amendment would save 30 jobs at Drakes Bay Oyster Company and 40 percent of California’s oyster market.  It would also send the message to the Department of Interior that transparency and scientific integrity cannot be casually dismissed for political purposes.”

Cause of Action, Briscoe Ivester & Bazel LLP, Stoel Rives LLP, and SSL Law represent Drakes Bay Oyster Company in their current federal lawsuit against the Department of the Interior, National Park Service and Secretary Ken Salazar.



SF Chronicle

The amendment, by Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, and Feinstein, D-Calif., was added to the Senate Concurrent Resolution for the 2014 federal budget. It would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to reinstate the reservation of use and occupancy and special use permits to conduct certain commercial operations.”

Feinstein, who has accused the National Park Service of launching an unfair, scientifically flawed campaign against the oyster farm, also sponsored legislation in 2009 authorizing a lease extension, which Salazar eventually chose not to do. That decision prompted the company to sue.

“This amendment would save 30 jobs at Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and 40 percent of California’s oyster market,” said Dan Epstein, the executive director of Cause of Action, which is part of the oyster company’s legal team.  “It would also send the message to the Department of Interior that transparency and scientific integrity cannot be casually dismissed for political purposes.”

Friday Mar 22, 2013 8:53 PM PT

Feinstein goes feet first into oyster farm fray


Sen. Dianne Feinstein re-entered the seemingly never-ending battle over the ouster of an oyster farm from Drakes Bay Friday by co-sponsoring an amendment to a budget resolution that would help the shellfish operation remain open.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar chose not to extend the 40-year lease, known as a reservation of use and occupancy, for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, late last year.  But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in February that the company could stay open until mid-May, when a hearing will be held to hash out “serious legal questions” about the decision.

The amendment, by Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, and Feinstein, D-Calif., was added to the Senate Concurrent Resolution for the 2014 federal budget. It would “establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to reinstate the reservation of use and occupancy and special use permits to conduct certain commercial operations.”

If passed, the amendment would essentially make a statement of support for allowing the oyster operation to remain open at least 10 more years. Budget resolutions, however, do not carry the force of law and are not signed by the president.

The oyster company, which runs a cannery and harvests about a third of the state’s oysters, is the only business on the 2,500-acre estero in Point Reyes National Seashore that Congress designated in 1976 as a future marine wilderness.

Feinstein, who has accused the National Park Service of launching an unfair, scientifically flawed campaign against the oyster farm, also sponsored legislation in 2009 authorizing a lease extension, which Salazar eventually chose not to do. That decision prompted the company to sue.

“This amendment would save 30 jobs at Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and 40 percent of California’s oyster market,” said Dan Epstein, the executive director of Cause of Action, which is part of the oyster company’s legal team.  “It would also send the message to the Department of Interior that transparency and scientific integrity cannot be casually dismissed for political purposes.”

Posted By: Peter Fimrite ( Email ) | Mar 22 at 8:01 pm






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03-22-13 About tonight’s proceedings, responses to your questions




*             The Vitter amendment, this afternoon, was filed to the Senate version of the budget (presently on the floor, the pending order of business).


*             The House already adopted (Ryan) budget.


*             Once Senate acts (passes the bill), the House and Senate must reconcile their bills.


*             Whether or not they can – unknown.


*             The Vitter amendment may or may not be considered (there were some 400 amendments filed – probably 15-20, maybe 30 will actually be considered).


*             What’s significant, regardless what happens, there is now a bi-partisan Senate effort to override the Secretary’s decision.


*             Vitter comes from one of the largest shellfish producing states.  He is aware that the false science manufactured by NPS has ALREADY migrated to Southern states – and is now showing up in regulatory proceedings.


We should know something by dawn – Senate’s supposed to be nearly all night.









 #14 Drakes Bay_Bryan 545 (2)

See below and the attached amendment.


Please help us get the word out to supporters of DBOF across the State to


call Boxer’s offices and voice your support of amendment #545.   


If you have friends and family outside of California they should


call their respective senators with the same request:


“We support the bi-partisan Senate amendment #545.”


Here is how to contact Boxer:

BoxerBay Area              510-286-8537

Los Angeles        213-894-5000

Sacramento        916-448-2787

Inland Empire    951-684-4849 (Riverside, etc.)

Fresno                  559-497-5109

San Diego            619-239-3884






URGE SUPPORT FOR AMENDMENT # 545 – Vitter-Feinstein.












03-21-13 The case of the missing publication, Stewardship Begins With People


Above is a scanned copy of the full publication

For years, we have been told the publication Stewardship Begins With People has been “OUT OF PRINT” (Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor Center gift shop personnel, as well as others) and that there were NO MORE COPIES TO BE HAD. I went on line and found the 22 publications in the series and that all the others were available as PDF downloads except for this one. There was an email address to request a paper version. My email requests for copies went unanswered. I phoned, and was told someone would get back to me about getting me a copy, but no one ever did. When I phoned again, I asked why I could no longer find one at the Point Reyes National Seashore Visitor Center. I was informed that the visitor center gift shops are independently owned and/or operated and they had no control over what the owners/operators choose to stock for sale.

This is the 2007 publication that extolled the virtues of



It even has Lunny in a photo with Dave Evans on page 45 and, on that page, it states:

“…both have been recognized for their environmental stewardship and innovation….

Lunny’s Drakes Bay Family Farms now operates an oyster farm on Drakes Estero.”

Yet Don Neubacher (see the Acknowledgements on page 58 column two, first line), the then superintendent of the Point Reyes National Seashore in May of 2007 at a presentation to the Marin County Board of Supervisors, accused Lunny of being an environmental criminal!

– SAME YEAR, not even five months after the copyright date of the publication –

From fourth-generation environmental steward to environmental criminal in less than 5 months?

You think this might be the reason one cannot get a copy at the very same visitor center gift shop of the park FEATURED IN THE PUBLICATION?

On Monday (03-18-13), I took yet another chance, and contacted the Conservation Studies Institute using the phone number on the inside cover, again. This time I got a live person on the other end of the line.

I explained to the person what I wanted and she put me through directly to Leslie Shahi of the Conservation Studies Institute.

(Ms Shahi is the second person mentioned on the same acknowledgements page as Don Neubacher but she is in the first column fourth line as the second person acknowledged for her contribution to Stewardship Begins with People.)

When I asked how much they were and how much for shipping and handling, she said they were FREE and there was NO CHARGE for shipping and handling.

I said I would like 10 copies and asked if that would change it. No, it was still FREE and there would be NO CHARGE for shipping and handling even for 10 copies.

After I hung up, I realized that the PDF problem might have also been resolved so I called back. She seemed a little cooler this time. I was told that the document was “too graphic intensive, the file size was too big to send as a PDF”. (Funny, friends who had scanned the full version and created a PDF out of it had no problem sending it to me by email – and it wasn’t even necessary to zip the file or use a large document sending service). As you know, I have already uploaded the publication to www.oysterzone.org – my blog!).

Yesterday, 10 copies of the original publication arrived by FedEx! Our tax dollars at work, isn’t it marvelous!

Please, request a copy, any number of copies, for yourself today.

Your effort will let them know we are still here, we are still watching, and we are still actively pursuing the matter.





Call 802-457-3368, ext 16 (Leslie Shahi)

Fax 802-457-3405




Keep a record of the date and time you called, faxed, or emailed your request, the response, if any, and the date you received your copy(s) if you receive a copy(s), and let me know.

03-20-2013 Ca. Farm Bureau Federation President’s Message: Why the DBOC Case Matters.

For Farm Bureau, the case has implications beyond Drakes Estero.
Half of the land in California is owned by the federal or state government. Rural communities, where many Farm Bureau members live and work, depend on multiple use of these lands. National parks and wilderness areas operate under land-management rules that allow for human presence and use, even when the primary mandate is for preservation and environmental protection.
To ban an operation such as Drakes Bay Oyster Co. on the ideological belief that it should not exist in a national park or wilderness area—despite evidence that the farm provides important economic, cultural and social benefits—sets an awful precedent for everyone who believes that humans and nature can and must co-exist sustainably.
President’s message: Why the Drakes Bay Oyster case matters
Issue Date: March 20, 2013
Paul Wenger. President, CFBF
Last week, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Marin County Farm Bureau and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau joined in a petition to a federal appeals court, urging the court to give the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. a new hearing—and a new chance to continue its sustainable aquaculture operation.
The company and its owners, Kevin and Nancy Lunny, carry on a decades-long tradition of mariculture in Drakes Estero. The oyster farming operation has been there since the 1930s—so long that few people remember the estero before the farm existed. It was there long before the Point Reyes National Seashore was established in 1960.
Despite a record as excellent stewards of the land and of the estero, the Lunnys and their farm face eviction.
The National Park Service determined that the oyster farm had to go and pulled out all the stops in its efforts to evict the farm, even though its presence adds to the overall character of the area. The Lunnys, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Farm Bureau and other advocates have pointed out a long history of shoddy, slanted pseudo-science used by the Park Service in an effort to justify removing the oyster farm.
Despite protests from the West Marin community, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided last November that the farm would have to leave when its lease expired. Only a last-minute stay from a federal court last month allowed the Lunnys to remain in business, while the court considers their appeal.
If you’ve been following the case like I have, you know that Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is a prime example of the local, sustainable agriculture that many Bay Area residents prize. If you haven’t been following the case, you might be surprised by the range of individuals, groups and organizations that joined together in the petition last week on behalf of the Lunnys.
Along with CFBF and the two county Farm Bureaus, the petitioners included famed Berkeley chef Alice Waters; the Hayes Street Grill, a fish restaurant in San Francisco; the Tomales Bay Oyster Co.; the Marin County agricultural commissioner; Food Democracy Now; Marin Organic; and the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture.
These folks may all come at this issue from different angles, but we end up at the same place: What’s happening to the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. is wrong.
The petition was written by Judith Teichman, a San Francisco attorney who assembled the coalition favoring the farm’s continued operation. It notes that closing down Drakes Estero as a source of fresh, sustainably raised shellfish would wreak havoc with the world-famous local, sustainable food and agriculture of the Bay Area. It would also disrupt shellfish cultivation on Tomales Bay. It would put 31 people out of work, some of whom have worked for the oyster farm for 30 years.
Closing the oyster company would also be a serious setback for modern environmental thinking, the petition says. Leading voices in the environmental movement have called for 21st century conservationists to embrace a more people-friendly ethic that supports working landscapes—just the sort of operation that Drakes Bay Oyster Co. represents.
Old-fashioned environmental activists want to force people off the land, to return it to some sort of pre-human condition. That thinking leads to confrontation instead of collaboration, and to situations where progressive, thoughtful farmers and ranchers like the Lunnys get pushed aside because of someone’s interpretation of the purity of nature.
For Farm Bureau, the case has implications beyond Drakes Estero.
Half of the land in California is owned by the federal or state government. Rural communities, where many Farm Bureau members live and work, depend on multiple use of these lands. National parks and wilderness areas operate under land-management rules that allow for human presence and use, even when the primary mandate is for preservation and environmental protection.
To ban an operation such as Drakes Bay Oyster Co. on the ideological belief that it should not exist in a national park or wilderness area—despite evidence that the farm provides important economic, cultural and social benefits—sets an awful precedent for everyone who believes that humans and nature can and must co-exist sustainably.
That’s why Farm Bureau supports the Lunnys and Drakes Bay Oyster Co. If the bureaucrats and the kick-the-humans-out branch of environmentalism can run the Lunnys out, you can bet they’ll keep trying to throttle more wise uses of taxpayer-owned lands.
That narrow, preservationist vision never worked and doesn’t now. The appeals court will hear the oyster farm’s case in May, and we hope it will restore common sense to the management of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

03-18-13 KWMR Farm & Food Shed Report: Fresh Support For Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

Farm and Foodshed Report

With your host: Robin Carpenter

The crucial stories impacting our local farms and foodshed

“Fresh Support for Drakes Bay Oyster Company” – episode aired March 18, 2013

** Listen online: http://kwmr.org/blog/show/4799  **

Nancy McDonough, General Counsel for the California Farm Bureau Federation

“We very much endorse and advance a collaborative approach… It’s so important that we’re able to achieve environmental protection at the same time as we have agricultural production. We’re always looking for places to achieve that…. I think if anything hits the target of the sweet spot, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company does.”

Patricia Unterman, owner of the Hayes Street Grill and a pioneer of the sustainable seafood movement in restaurants:

“We’ve really seen a revolution in the way people are eating from the sea now. And that’s what makes the Drakes Bay oysters so valuable to us. My goodness, here’s a product that’s beautifully raised and really delicious. We pan-fry them, and they’re just so crisp and delicious and sweet. Here’s a product that is being harvested an hour away from the restaurant and the notion that we couldn’t get them anymore is devastating and terrible. It runs against the whole food movement that developed over these past 30 years.”

Jeff Creque an Agroecologist who is on the board of the Alliance for Local and Sustainable Agriculture of Marin County:

“That’s really the core of this whole issue: how do we care for our environment and also provide ourselves with the things that we need? And that’s the challenge for me in my work is always looking for that sweet spot between environmental protection and  agricultural production. And the beauty of this concept [collaborative management] is that it really helps us look for those answers. It’s where we are I think globally now. We have a literal massive global crisis on our hands, and yet there’s 7 billion of us on the planet and we need to be fed and clothed. How do we do that? How do we weigh those, not just weigh those in a trade-off context, but is there a way we can actually combine those two realities in a way that can actually benefit both the environment and our needs as human beings in the planet?”

Click here to listen to the radio show online: http://kwmr.org/blog/show/4799

KWMR, a West Marin community radio station, airs a weekly show called The Farm and Foodshed Report. On Monday, March 18th, host Robin Carpenter brought together three of the “friends” who were part of an Amicus or Friends of the Court brief submitted in support of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Farm on March 13th.  The “Three Amigos” on the show are Patricia Unterman, owner of the Hayes Street Grill and a pioneer of the sustainable seafood movement in restaurants, Nancy McDonough, General Counsel, California Farm Bureau Federation and Jeff Creque an Agroecologist who is on the board of the Alliance for Local and Sustainable Agriculture of Marin County (ALSA). This diverse group talked in an exciting and fresh new way about the crucial role Drake’s Bay Oyster Company plays both locally and beyond. It is clear that they came together because as stated in the brief, “There is no single voice that can speak for the “public interest” in keeping the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm open…”  This show is well worth your time to hear some new perspectives.

Here’s a profile of Robin Carpenter

KWMR On-air Talent


Robin Carpenter

Host of: Farm and Foodshed Report


The Farm & Foodshed Report

The Farm & Foodshed Report is hosted by local writer and foodshed activist – “Hunt and Gather Girl” Robin Carpenter.  Who said that Hunter Gatherers and Farmers can’t get along?  Interviews with farmers, ranchers, fishermen, oystermen, chefs, artisan food makers, permaculturists, scientists, environmentalists, rabblerousers and advocates for a healthy, just and thriving food shed.

A foodshed is everything between where a food is produced and where a food is consumed – the land it grows on, the routes it travels, the markets it goes through, the tables it ends up gracing.  The term was first used in the early 20th century to describe the global flow of food, the term has recently been resurrected to discuss local food systems and ways to create more sustainable and regenerative ways of producing and consuming food.

Robin Carpenter grew up in Ragg Swamp, Alabama where she learned the finer points of storytelling and food in a land rich with tall tales and well-marbled alligators.  She’s now a writer and foodshed activist keeping an eye on the food chain from her home in West Marin.  She’s a staff writer for Edible Marin and Wine Country and a  correspondent for the Point Reyes Light.  You can keep up with her adventures at www.huntandgathergirl.com.


03-18-13 Big Park, a musical comedic take on the NPS, a YouTube Video you MUST SEE

Posted on YouTube in 2009, Big Park is the musical comedy version of the DBOC story as well as the re-territorialization by the NPS of many rural communities across our country .

The video starts off a little slowly however, it will have you howling in just a little while.

If it were not for the fact that it is exactly what is happening not only at Point Reyes National Seashore, but also all over the country, it would be hilarious. Those who are losing their homes, their way of life and the locally produced, sustainable, renewable food source, have a very hard time watching this.

For those of you who would like to know what is really going on and are looking for something in addition to Reports, Investigations, Scientists and Bi-Partisan points of view, have a look.


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