4-29-15 We didn’t get our day in court however, we exposed the fraud, conspiracy and scientific misconduct of the PRNS, NPS, and DOI

Oyster Farmer: ‘We Are Terrified’ Of The Gov’t
Photo of Michael Bastasch
MICHAEL BASTASCH
4:53 PM 04/29/2015
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The National Park Service used falsified data to shut down an 80-year-old oyster company in Point Reyes, Calif, its owner claims.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company operated in Point Reyes for decades until National Park Service officials used falsified data to force Kevin Lunny’s family-run oyster farm to shut down. The experience has left its mark on Lunny: “We Are Terrified,” he told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.

“Let me be clear, we did not fail as a business,” Lunny said in his prepared testimony. “This was not bad luck. Rather, the Park Service engaged in a taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption to run our small business out of Point Reyes.”

Lunny made this statement in response to a question by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador asking whether or not Lunny felt like there could be consequences from his testimony against the National Parks Service.

Even Democratic California Rep. Jared Huffman admitted that in the rush to get rid of industry from Point Reyes, government officials and environmentalists “overstated” evidence that Lunny’s farm was harming the environment.

“No one has apologized,” Lunny said.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is located in Northern California’s Point Reyes National Seashore, where it has been for decades. Point Reyes isn’t your typical national park because it was created to preserve the historic coastline where people have been settled since the Gold Rush. It was never intended to be a major tourist attraction like Yellowstone.

For decades the Park Service had a good relationship with the oyster company, but that all changed in the mid-2000s. All of the sudden, NPS officials started blaming the company for an 80 percent decline in the local harbor seal population. Officials also blamed Lunny’s farm for upsetting the ecological balance of Drakes Estero.
But all of these accusations against Drakes Bay Oyster Company turned out to be completely false. The National Parks Service lacked any scientific data to back up its claims that the company was killing seals and hurting the local environment. In fact, studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Health Department showed the Parks Service was completely wrong.

NPS, however, didn’t stop there and kept making false claims against the oyster company.

“The Park Service misrepresented that study,” Lunny said. “They instead attempted to demonstrate harm by substituting data from a sixty-year-old study conducted at the Sea of Japan and attributing it to our farm.”

“For example, in assessing the noise impact of our small outboard motor boats, the Park Service, rather than measuring our boats on our soundscape [as required], instead used the measurements from a seventy-horsepower, 700cc Kawasaki jet ski in New Jersey,” Lunny added.

Lunny appealed to higher ups at the National Park Service for help in the matter and to correct the record on false statements made by the agency, but he got no help from the government.

“The local Park Service staff were not willing to correct the false claims, so we went to the Regional Director,” Lunny said. “No help there. Then we went to the Park Service Director, and finally the Secretary of Interior. No one, at any level, was willing to admit that false science was being used against us, or to at least correct the record and stop the false accusations.”

The Interior Department’s own inspector general even found misconduct by agency officials and that they misrepresented facts. But even so, the inspector general was powerless to stop Parks Service officials from attacking Lunny’s business.

Eventually, Drakes Bay Oyster Farm closed its doors because of the litigation and regulatory actions taken by the federal government.

“What the Park Service did to our family was unconscionable,” Lunny said. “This polluted legacy of false science has tainted our dealings with state and federal agencies, and has resulted in unnecessary regulatory and legal action against our family and our farm.”

11-09-2012 WITHOUT HAVING READ THE COMPLAINT, Genl Counsel for Marine Mammal Commission quoted in press “…ALLEGATIONS ARE ‘PROBABLY NOT TRUE’”

November 9, 2012             

From:  Dr. Corey S. Goodman

To: Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General, Department of Commerce

“….In an article in the November 8, 2012 issue of the The West Marin Citizen (a local weekly newspaper in the West Marin community), entitled “Misconduct charged in Marine Mammal Commission report” and written by Lynn Axelrod, Mike Gosliner, General Counsel, MMC, is quoted from an exchange on November 7 as follows:

He (Gosliner) said ‘…. The allegations are probably not true or have a good alternative explanation.”’….

….Mr. Gosliner quoted from the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding between the MMC and the DOC OIG. 

…. I quoted from the March 29, 2011 MMC Scientific Integrity Policy sent by Dr. Ragen to Dr. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), White House, in response to Dr. Holdren’s directive to all federal departments and agencies for such a policy.  Dr. Ragen’s 2011 letter to Dr. Holdren stated:

…., Mr. Gosliner should not be involved in this investigation.  He admitted that he had little time to read the complaint, but nevertheless told the press that the allegations are “probably not true.”  He also said that the complaint concerned scientific misconduct, when the complaint was filed primarily concerning “misconduct” and “deception.”  Much of the complaint involves the violation of laws, policies, guidelines, and regulations, and deceptive statements to the public and elected officials, and does not involve science per se (that is largely relegated to the appendix).   

In conclusion, I stand by my complaint filed with you on November 7, and remain convinced that neither Executive Director Dr. Ragen, Chair Dr. Boness, or General Counsel Mr. Gosliner should be involved in any way in investigating these allegations.”

For the original letter, click the link below:

CSG to Zinser 11_09_12 response to MMC

11-09-2012 Greenwire: Still no EIS as deadline looms

Now, with only three weeks to go, the Interior Department appears to be in a tight spot. Salazar has the option of granting the farm a new 10-year lease, using the Park Service’s EIS to inform his decision.
The draft EIS found that the farm’s continued operations would negatively affect the surrounding environment. But it suffered substantial criticism for its findings — including a particularly critical report from the National Academy of Sciences — and the final EIS is nowhere to be found.
8. INTERIOR:
Still no EIS on embattled Calif. oyster farm as deadline looms for decision
Emily Yehle, E&E reporter
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
The National Park Service has not yet issued its final environmental impact statement on a California oyster farm, leaving less than the mandated 30-day review period before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar must decide whether to allow the farm to stay in a potential wilderness area.
Drakes Bay Oyster Co. has been at the center of a roiling controversy for years over its location in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The farm has operated there for more than 70 years, but its 40-year lease with the Park Service is up Nov. 30 (Greenwire, Sept. 13).
Now, with only three weeks to go, the Interior Department appears to be in a tight spot. Salazar has the option of granting the farm a new 10-year lease, using the Park Service’s EIS to inform his decision.
The draft EIS found that the farm’s continued operations would negatively affect the surrounding environment. But it suffered substantial criticism for its findings — including a particularly critical report from the National Academy of Sciences — and the final EIS is nowhere to be found.
Under National Environmental Policy Act guidelines, an agency cannot make a decision on the proposed action until 30 days after the final EIS is released. As of today, 21 days remain until the farm’s lease expires.
But the rules are complicated by the fact that the Park Service could let the farm’s lease expire without making any decision. The farm’s owners have also argued that Salazar doesn’t need to wait for the EIS to issue a new lease.
Ryan Waterman, the farm’s attorney, wrote a letter to Salazar earlier this month arguing that Congress inserted a “general repealing clause” in the 2009 spending bill that authorized the new 10-year lease, allowing Interior to override other conflicting laws including NEPA.
“NPS’s struggle to prepare a legally adequate FEIS for your consideration has been overtaken by the passage of time,” Waterman wrote. “Despite the NPS failure to provide you with a legally adequate FEIS, Section 124 permits you to issue a SUP with the same terms and conditions as the existing authorization.”
Interior spokesman Blake Androff declined to comment on the legal implications of a late EIS, but he indicated that Salazar could still decide either way.
“The matter remains under review, and the Secretary expects to issue a decision in the coming weeks,” he said in an email. “The National Park Service engaged in a public process to collect additional information in an inclusive and transparent manner. This public input will help to inform the Secretary’s decision.”
It is no surprise that the Park Service is late in issuing a final EIS, after the National Academy of Sciences issued a report in August recommending significant changes. The NAS panel found that a lack of evidence made the conclusions in the draft EIS significantly uncertain (Greenwire, Aug. 30).
The panel also criticized the Park Service for using two baselines — one for the “no action” alternative of allowing the farm’s lease to expire, and another for the three “action” alternatives of issuing a new lease.
In other words, the Park Service compared the continued operation of the farm to a theoretical situation where the farm does not exist — and it compared the closing of the farm to the current environmental situation. That made it impossible to compare the effect of the farm’s closure to the effect of its continued operation.
Citing such criticism, the oyster farm has demanded that the Park Service redo the draft EIS altogether (Greenwire, Sept. 18).
 

11-07-2012 Marine Mammal Commission Report on Drakes Estero Tainted By NPS-MMC Misconduct

Marine Mammal Commission Report on Drakes Estero Tainted By NPS-MMC Misconduct  — NPS Effectively “Investigated Itself” with MMC Assistance — EIS Compromised — Complaint Filed with Commerce Department OIG 

“In summary, Dr. Ragen’s conduct was inappropriate and unethical. NPS employees were equally inappropriate, complicit, and active participants throughout a MMC review process that was anything but transparent, inclusive, and independent.  Dr. Ragen established a public process with a veneer of fairness, balance, and independence, while his private activities subordinated that independence to the very entity being investigated and reviewed – the National Park Service.”

From: Corey Goodman <corey.goodman@me.com>

Subject: filing of misconduct complaint with DOC OIG

Date: November 7, 2012 10:29:26 AM PST

November 7, 2012

From:  Dr. Corey S. Goodman

To: Todd J. Zinser, Inspector General, Department of Commerce

Re: Request that DOC OIG investigate allegations that Marine Mammal Commission Exec. Director Dr. Timothy Ragen, in the review and release, and later private reversal of the key conclusion, of his MMC Report on “Mariculture and Harbor Seals in Drakes Estero, California,” violated MMC policies, FOIA, and the MMC Scientific Integrity Policy

Dear Inspector General Zinser,

I request that the Department of Commerce Office of the Inspector General (DOC OIG), initiate an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Dr. Timothy Ragen, Executive Director, Marine Mammal Commission (MMC).  The complaint presented below alleges that Dr. Ragen violated MMC policies, rules, and guidelines, the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the MMC Scientific Integrity Policy.  This complaint alleges:

  • Publicly Dr. Ragen claimed to be transparent, inclusive, and to provide equal access, and to be independent, unbiased, and without conflict, but
  • Privately Dr. Ragen was secretive, exclusive, dependent upon NPS, biased, and conflicted, and gave NPS inappropriate access, and veto power including
    • Access to documents not provided to other parties,
    • Ability to critique work of other parties without disclosure or comment, and
    • Power to not respond to questions and not participate in open discussions.

As a result of Dr. Ragen’s inappropriate actions, the MMC Report was:

  • Not an independent review of NPS science as claimed by MMC, and
  • Not a legitimate independent peer review of the draft EIS as claimed by NPS.

Dr. Ragen deceived the public, the press, elected officials, and all parties involved by privately allowing NPS to review itself, while publicly claiming that the MMC Report represented an independent review of the NPS science.

Dr. Ragen espoused the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and equal access.  He wrote of open discussion, open dialogue, and open exchange. Dr. Ragen failed on every one of those principles.  He failed the MMC.  He failed our community.

Dr. Ragen failed to disclose the inappropriate access relationship granted to NPS.  Dr. Ragen was not transparent.  Dr. Ragen was exclusive, not inclusive.  Dr. Ragen granted special access, not equal access.  Dr. Ragen went to great lengths not to disclose his private bias – apparently breaking FOIA regulations by withholding key communications.

Dr. Ragen allowed the NPS to assert that the MMC Report served as an independent peer review of the NPS harbor seal section of the DEIS when it was anything but independent.  That assertion allowed NPS to omit the harbor seal section of the DEIS from the Atkins Peer Review Report, thereby eliminating the possibility that Atkins scientists would find fault with that section.  By his actions, Dr. Ragen empowered the NPS to secretly review itself, and to deceive the public.

In summary, Dr. Ragen’s conduct was inappropriate and unethical. NPS employees were equally inappropriate, complicit, and active participants throughout a MMC review process that was anything but transparent, inclusive, and independent.  Dr. Ragen established a public process with a veneer of fairness, balance, and independence, while his private activities subordinated that independence to the very entity being investigated and reviewed – the National Park Service.

Five specific allegations are presented here concerning Dr. Ragen’s misconduct and deception involving his oversight of the MMC Report on “Mariculture and Harbor Seals in Drakes Estero, California” on November 22, 2011, and his private (concealed) reversal of the key conclusion from his MMC Report in a letter on June 17, 2012.  It is alleged that:

1)    Dr. Ragen Violated MMC Policies Established for Scientific Review

a.     Did Not Treat All Parties Equally But Had Biased Interactions with NPS

b.    Did Not Conduct an Independent Review of NPS Data and Analysis

2)    Dr. Ragen Changed MMC Terms of Reference Without Disclosure or Discussion

a.     Changed Scope, Title, and Purpose of MMC Report

b.    Accepted Lack of Disclosure of Key Data and Paper by NPS

3)    Dr. Ragen Violated the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

a.     Failed to Disclose and Release Key Communications

b.    Failed to Provide Basis for Failing to Disclose & Release Key Communications

4)    Dr. Ragen Violated MMC Scientific Integrity Policy

a.     Did Not Follow Open Discussion, Open Dialogue, Open Exchange

b.    Undermined and Avoided Meetings to Discuss Data and Analysis

5)    Dr. Ragen Failed to Properly Disclose Reversal of Key Conclusion of MMC Report

a.     Reversed MMC Support of Key NPS Paper In a ‘Private’ Letter

b.    Concealed Reversal While Claiming Key MMC Conclusion Was Unchanged

According to the MMC Scientific Integrity Policy filed on March 29, 2011 with Dr. John Holdren [Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), White House], the MMC has a cooperative agreement with the DOC OIG regarding investigations of the MMC.  According to that 2011 policy, the DOC OIG agreed to conduct independent investigations of the Executive Director when appropriate given the circumstances.  The serious allegations of misconduct and deception set forth in this complaint against the MMC Executive Director mandate that the DOC OIG undertake this investigation.

The above-cited MMC Report is being relied upon by NPS to help justify a pending Department of the Interior policy decision.  The NPS has announced that in its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the oyster farm lease renewal at Drakes Estero, it plans to consider Dr. Ragen’s MMC Report as an independent review of NPS science, and as a ‘peer review’ of the EIS section on harbor seal impacts.

As an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), I listened the morning of April 27, 2009, as President Obama spoke to my fellow NAS members at our annual meeting.  It was an historic speech – the first President to address the NAS since President John Kennedy.  President Obama sent a powerful message about the integrity of science.  The President spoke movingly of “restoring science to its rightful place” and the need “to be sure that facts are driving scientific decisions.”  Toward that end, he established scientific integrity policies under the jurisdiction of the White House OSTP.

The 2011 MMC Scientific Integrity Policy states that MMC policies are intended to ensure a culture of scientific integrityand provideindependent expert analysis of scientific, policy, and regulatory issues consistent with the provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

Dr. Ragen abandoned the MMC policy filed with the White House at the very time he should have been guided by it.  The Scientific Integrity Policy’s directive of “honest investigation, open discussion, refined understanding, and a firm commitment to evidence” was not followed, nor did Dr. Ragen adhere to the directive that “the Commission actively seeks input from and open dialogue among all parties engaged in all issues

Dr. Ragen was disingenuous to a U.S. Senator, the Marin County Board of Supervisors, independent scientists who became involved at the request of the County Supervisors, a community torn apart by NPS misconduct at Point Reyes, the press seeking the truth, the oyster farmer, and the farm’s 30 workers whose livelihoods rest in the balance.

This case, with all of its details, boils down to the following three questions:

1.    Did Dr. Ragen ignore his principles of transparency, inclusiveness, equal access, fairness, and independence, and sacrifice the impartiality of his MMC Report?

2.    Did Dr. Ragen allow NPS to review NPS – effectively allowing a self-review – while publicly claiming the MMC Report was independent and without bias?

3.    Did Dr. Ragen deceive the public in his MMC Report and his communications?

I end with a note concerning my affiliation.  I have many professional affiliations as scientist, professor, educator, entrepreneur, executive, and venture capitalist.  Those professional affiliations have shaped my life and provide the scientific experience and wisdom – as well as the scientific credentials and reputation (e.g., elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, professor at UCSF) – that I bring to this issue.

In coming forward with this complaint, I do so as independent citizen scientist, and I do so on behalf of truth, scientific integrity, and my commitment to public service at the interface of science and policy.  That commitment is reflected by my service to the National Research Council (I chaired the NRC Board on Life Sciences for six years) and the California Council on Science and Technology (I serve as an elected member).

It is now clear that there were two faces to Dr. Ragen, one public and the other private.  Dr. Ragen deceived the public to believe he was independent, and in so doing, violated his own MMC policies and misled elected officials in an ongoing public policy decision.  There are profound implications in the misconduct described here, not just for the MMC and NPS, but for all Federal agencies that rely upon impartial and scholarly science for policy decisions.  I pledge my full cooperation with your investigation.

Sincerely yours,

Corey S. Goodman, Ph.D.

corey.goodman@me.com

415 663-9495

PO Box 803, Marshall, CA 94940

 

For the supporting Documents Click on the links below:

CSG to Zinser 11_07_12 complaint

CSG to Zinser 11_07_12 appendix

CSG to Muldoon 11_07_12 cover letter

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

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

For the full statement click on this link:

http://1.usa.gov/zp1jfD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NorCal Oyster Farm Dispute Spreads to Capitol Hill

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

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

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

12/10/2011

Marin Voice: Former assemblyman says original legislation favors oyster farm

By Bill Bagley
Guest op-ed column

Posted: 12/10/2011 05:50:00 AM PST

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

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

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

UofC Extension 12-07-2011

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

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

 20111208 DBOC 7700 letters to PRNS

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

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

For the full article, click on the link below:

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

The Twelve dEIS Comments (that you can make)

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

you can post multiple comments.

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

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

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

 

1

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

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

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

 

2

Potential impact on wildlife is not properly assessed.

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

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

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

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

 

3

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

The dEIS includes much discussion about special-status species

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4

Environmental benefits are misrepresented and/or missing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5

Economic impacts are not adequately addressed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6

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

Geographic parameters used throughout this chapter

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

Considered properly:

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

The analysis presented here is insufficient.

This section should be reformulated and corrected for the dEIS.

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

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

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

7

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

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

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

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

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

8

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

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

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

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

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

9

Existing management policies are not considered.

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

The existing management policies must be considered and addressed.

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

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

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

10

National aquaculture policies are ignored.

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

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

The dEIS should consider these policies.

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

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

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

11

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

12

 

DRAKES BAY OYSTER COMPANY SPECIAL USE PERMIT:

Collaborative Management Alternative

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

Collaborative Management Alternative Respond to the dEIS on their Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

11/30/2011 Fighting Climate Change WITH OYSTERS!

The Coming Green Wave: Ocean Farming to Fight Climate Change

Excerpt (link below):

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

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

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

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

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

ReTweet with #dboyster

11/22/2011 MMC Report and Appendix F

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

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

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

Appendix F appendix_f

MMC Report drakes_estero_report

 

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

 Report #1, 7 year 4 month study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Report #2

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

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

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

3.      No trends are detected….

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

 2005 San Diego Court Decision:

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

 

(Author’s comments:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

North America – 38% wilderness

Africa – 28% wilderness

Check it out

http://anse.rs/stG5Bv

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

11-16-11 Ca Historical Society – Reception Invitation

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

Oyster Farm Opening Reception

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harbor Seal Report 2005

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

Dr Goodman to NAS 12-18-07

 

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

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

02-03-09 DBOC Letter to NAS

DBOC letter to NAS 02-03-09

03-22-11 Frost Report

Frost report 03-22-2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Case of the Indian Trader review

 

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

 

By Dave Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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

A nationwide problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the book fair?

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

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

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

 

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