08-05-16: NPT Anti-Ranch Activists Use Familiar Playbook

Op-Ed | Anti-Ranch Activists Use Familiar Playbook

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Tule elk at Point Reyes National Seashore/NPS

Editor’s note: The following column was written by Sarah Rolph, who is writing a book on how an oyster farm lost its lease at Point Reyes National Seashore in California.

To those of us who were close observers of the dis-information war conducted against Drakes Bay Oyster Farm by a clique of activists wearing the mantle of environmentalism, it is readily apparent that a dis-information war is being waged against the Point Reyes ranchers by a similar clique of activists wearing that same green disguise.

Before bringing suit against Point Reyes National Seashore to stop its Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan, the anti-ranch groups took advantage of that plan’s public scoping process to prepare the battlefield with a false narrative.

In addition to sending anti-ranch letters in their own names, these groups also spent time and money to create the false impression that their message is popular by using their membership mailing lists to orchestrate thousands of public comments that echo the group’s narrative. It’s the same playbook the anti-oyster-farm activists used:  alarm the group’s gullible if well-meaning membership with a false narrative, give them a form letter or talking points with which to swamp the public process, then issue a press release claiming the public has spoken.

The anti-oyster-farm activists spent big bucks, generating an astonishing 45,000 exact-match form letters calling for the removal of the oyster farm. These form letters made up about 90 percent of the total comments received; months later, when public interest had died down, these 45,000 comments would be quietly set aside from the total count as the NEPA law requires for exact-match form letters, yet the wildly inflated numbers were still quoted in the press and in court.

In the case of the Ranch CMP, the effort was more modest. Still, they pushed the number of comments to over 3,000. When you think about it, there’s very little chance that 3,000 people had something substantive to say about the scoping phase of a narrowly-focused planning effort in Point Reyes, California. The notion that these are all sincere public comments seems even more unlikely when one learns that 75 percent of these comments came from outside the state. And 13 percent were international! I guess you go to war with the mailing list you’ve got.

I’ve done several of these public-comment analyses now, and the responses are striking in their lack of originality. The campaigns usually encourage recipients to modify the example letter, but most people don’t. For the anti-ranch campaign, most of the letters were based on a set of professionally prepared talking points. It doesn’t take much detective work to identify them, because a lot of people sent in the list verbatim. (And it’s clear who sent the talking points around, because the same exact points can be traced to the letters signed by the anti-ranch groups.)

The list reads:

  • Private ranching operations do not benefit the public for which this National Seashore was created.
  • NPS needs to phase out the current leases and as they expire, take back and administer the approximately 28,000 acres of “pastoral zone,” on behalf of the American public who paid for it.
  • During the time of phasing out ranching leases, the NPS must ensure a peaceful co-existence between cattle and wild animals, including tule elk.
  • As the true historic grazer, the tule elk are native and belong in this area, not cattle.
  • Ranchers have an obligation to co-exist and be complimentary to the native wildlife, not the other way around. Thus, there is no need for “relocation” or any other “removal” of tule elk.
  • Should the need arise to reduce the tule elk population at some point, no lethal methods may be employed. Instead, cost-efficient and effective immunocontraception should be implemented as was done successfully between 1998 and 2000.
  • I ask that you discontinue private ranching operations and restore the coastal prairie to a large natural preserve in close vicinity to the San Francisco Bay area for the wildlife and people to enjoy.

Recipients of this list would never know that protecting the ranches was central to the creation of the National Seashore. Here’s what former Interior Secretary Salazar said about the ranches in his decision memo about Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which directed Point Reyes National Seashore officials to provide the ranches with 20-year permits:

“Long-term preservation of ranching was a central concern of local interests and members of Congress as they considered legislation to establish the Point Reyes National Seashore in the late 1950s and early 1960s… Congress…recognized ‘the value to the Government and the public of continuation of ranching activities, as presently practiced, in preserving the beauty of the area.’ … These working ranches are a vibrant and compatible part of Point Reyes National Seashore, and both now and in the future represent an important contribution to the Point Reyes’ superlative natural and cultural resources.”

Compare this reminder of the Seashore’s actual history to the fictive hyperbole offered by Western Watershed Project in its Ranch CMP scoping letter:

“Sadly, the Point Reyes peninsula and adjacent National Park Service lands have had a long history of livestock grazing to the detriment of the area’s natural and cultural resources. In the pastoral zone, the visiting public who the Park was established for, are not treated to a vibrant landscape as befits a National Park but instead are faced with a blasted landscape littered with rancher paraphernalia, cattle pats, and fences that restrict their access to the extent that parts of the Park do not even look like they are open to the public.”

This group either didn’t do its homework or purposely presented a false message. Point Reyes is a National Seashore, not a National Park. Its Pastoral Zone was created specifically to protect the ranches, to avoid harming the area’s agricultural economy and to increase local support.

Nor is it true that the Pastoral Zone resembles a “blasted landscape.” At their website, Western Watersheds takes this lie even farther, with claims such as: “The so-called ‘Pastoral Zone’ is a visual blight, harms water quality, and limits recreational uses of this national treasure.” These claims are untrue.

Recipients of the anti-ranch talking points would also never know that the elk in PRNS are a recently re-introduced species, that the Seashore has done a poor job managing its elk experiment, or that an elk management plan that has been in place since 1998 promised to protect the ranches from the elk.

Nor, of course, would they ever know that PRNS has broken that promise, and that the ranchers are suffering elk-related losses.

The ranchers fully understand that the public loves the elk and that the park is invested in the tourist attraction it has created. They are not asking for the elk to be removed from the Seashore. All they want is for the re-introduced elk to be managed properly, as the Seashore promised it would do when it began its experiment with the free-roaming elk in Limantour wilderness that have now (predictably) spread to the Pastoral Zone. All they are asking is that the elk be prevented from killing their cattle, destroying their fences, and grazing on the pastures and hay that the ranchers care for and pay for.

In their disregard for the truth, their use of a false narrative, and their abuse of the NEPA process, the tactics of the anti-ranch activists closely resemble those of the anti-oyster-farm activists.

But at least the oyster-farm adversaries didn’t pretend they weren’t working against the oyster farm.

The anti-ranch groups have been deceptive about their goal. At the same time they were sending out emails asking people to repeat talking points like, “I ask that you discontinue private ranching operations,” they were claiming not to be anti-ranch. As recently as last month, in a press release dated July 19, these groups (the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, and Resource Renewal Institute) said, “The lawsuit does not ask the court to stop ranching at the Seashore, nor will the court decide the future of ranching at Point Reyes.”

This is disingenuous in the extreme. These groups are clearly working to stop ranching at the Seashore. Indeed, eliminating ranching on public lands is the stated goal of the Western Watershed Project as an organization.

The Point Reyes ranchers have waited long enough. When Secretary Salazar promised 20-year permits in November 2012, the ranchers thought that settled the matter. Instead, they have been kept hanging all this time, with short-term authorizations that limit their ability to plan and operate their ranches.

When Point Reyes National Seashore decided it needed to create a new public process in the form of a Ranch CMP, the ranchers were disappointed, but they participated in that process in good faith. (The scoping letter from the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association, found here, is extremely informative, and includes a useful report on ranching at Point Reyes.)

Now the anti-ranch activists are suing to stop that process and start a new one, presumably one they feel they can better control. Will they be allowed to do so?

Their suit attempts to force an update of the Seashore’s General Management Plan; historian Laura Alice Watt’s forthcoming book The Paradox of Preservation shows that when a General Management Plan update was initiated back in the late 1990s, a similar campaign of anti-ranch letter-writing was launched by a number of environmental groups. This is a time-tested tactic used by special interests to shape the Seashore’s management into a particular direction.

Point Reyes National Seashore was made possible by its multi-generation ranching families. Through their motion to intervene in the lawsuit, these families are seeking a seat at the table.

Nobody has more incentive to protect the land than those whose livelihoods depend on it. An excerpt from Kevin Lunny’s court declaration (part of the motion to intervene) provides a good example of the careful stewardship of the ranchers:

“Our grazed California Coastal Prairie grasslands support a wide variety of native bird and animal species that I, other seashore ranchers, and many seashore visitors enjoy. Our family has built new fences, adjusted other fence lines, redirected vehicular access to minimize disturbance, protected wetland area, and controlled grazing to enhance habitat for endangered species on the Lunny Ranch, including endangered plant species that are benefited by livestock grazing, for example Sonoma alopecurus. Another example is that grazing helps ward off invasive plant species from taking over the range. Our family ranch has, and continues to provide, ecological benefits by maintaining the native nature of the grassland, thereby maintaining the pastoral scenery and wildlife habitat–one of the significant attributes that led to the establishment of the national seashore.”

The ranchers are the true stewards of this land and the leaders of this community, and have been for generations. The anti-ranch groups have every right to their own opinion, as the saying goes, but not to their own facts.

 Sarah Rolph is writing a book about the historic oyster farm in Point Reyes that was rescued by, and then taken from, Kevin Lunny, who is also a third-generation Point Reyes rancher.

08-01-16 Laura Watt’s Book available now: The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness & Working Landscapes at PRNS

Available now at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0520277082/ref=kinw_rke_rti_1

 

The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National SeashorePaperback– November 29, 2016

by

Laura Alice Watt (Author)

 

Point Reyes National Seashore has a long history as a working landscape, with dairy and beef ranching, fishing, and oyster farming; yet, since 1962 it has also been managed as a National Seashore. The Paradox of Preservation chronicles how national ideals about what a park “ought to be” have developed over time and what happens when these ideals are implemented by the National Park Service (NPS) in its efforts to preserve places that are also lived-in landscapes. Using the conflict surrounding the closure of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, Laura Alice Watt examines how NPS management policies and processes for land use and protection do not always reflect the needs and values of local residents. Instead, the resulting landscapes produced by the NPS represent a series of compromises between use and protection—and between the area’s historic pastoral character and a newer vision of wilderness. A fascinating and deeply researched book, The Paradox of Preservation will appeal to those studying environmental history, conservation, public lands, and cultural landscape management, or to those looking to learn more about the history of this dynamic California coastal region.

5-21-16 Petition to Fire NPS Dir Jon Jarvis

Click on the link below to sign the petition

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-national-park-service-director-jon-jarvis-we-deserve-director-who-will-uphold-agencys-integrity 

We the people ask the federal government to Tell us what the federal government is doing about an issue:

Fire National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis. We deserve a director who will uphold the agency’s integrity.

As the nation celebrates the National Park Service centennial, we deserve a director who will uphold the integrity of the agency’s mission and values. We urge you to remove Director Jonathan Jarvis.

Jarvis has failed to address numerous and pervasive sexual harassment and hostile work environment violations.

He lied to the Secretary of the Interior and intentionally bypassed the agency’s Ethics Office in order to write an unsanctioned book.

He has failed to discipline park service employees who deliberately omitted and misrepresented scientific data.

And he is pushing for policy changes that would give corporate donors unprecedented influence over park managers and National Park Service decisions.

We and the Park Service cannot wait. Jarvis must go.

Energy & Environment
Government & Regulatory Reform

5-23-16 NPT Congressman Asks for NPS Dir Jarvis’s Resignation

National Parks Traveler

UPDATED: Congressman Asks For National Park Service Director’s Resignation

 

By Kurt Repanshek on June 23rd, 2016

President Obama has been asked to fire National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis if the director does not resign/NPS

Editor’s note: This updates the story to mention that a petition drive calling for Director Jarvis’ removal has been started.

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, who has had to deal with his own ethical transgressions and a range of misconduct issues across the National Park System during this, the Park Service’s centennial year, should resign or be fired, a member of Congress has told President Obama.

Additionally, a petition has been launched on We The People, a website that reaches out to the White House, calling for the director’s termination.

Congressman Jody Hice, a Republican from Georgia, wrote the president last week asking that Director Jarvis be asked to resign. In the letter (attached) the congressman cited the director’s run-in with the Interior Department’s Ethics Office for not clearing a book he wrote for a Park Service contractor, the well-publicized case of long-running sexual harassment in Grand Canyon National Park, and another case of sexual misconduct at Canaveral National Seashore.

“Regrettably, in these cases — and others — the proper form of discipline was not pursued,” Rep. Hice wrote. “In the case of Director Jarvis’ book deal, the only punishment he faced was that he was stripped of his authority to implement the Park Service’s Ethic’s Program and is required to attend monthly ethics training courses for the remainder of his tenure. Others have either been transferred out of their positions or have been allowed to retire without facing the punishment that fits the misconduct.

“These are just some of the ethical failures and misconduct commited by employees of the National Park Service and the lack of discipline they have faced. Ultimately, Director Jarvis must be held accountable for these actions. Therefore Mr. President, I believe that the time has come for you to call on Director Jarvis to tender his resignation as the Director of the National Park Service. Should he choose not to resign, I believe that you must relieve him of his duties immediately.”

This past Tuesday a petition drive calling for Director Jarvis’ removal was launched on We The People. If 100,000 people sign the petition by July 21, the White House will respond to the request, according to the website. The petition, created by “A.B.,” states:

As the nation celebrates the National Park Service centennial, we deserve a director who will uphold the integrity of the agency’s mission and values. We urge you to remove Director Jonathan Jarvis.

Jarvis has failed to address numerous and pervasive sexual harassment and hostile work environment violations.

He lied to the Secretary of the Interior and intentionally bypassed the agency’s Ethics Office in order to write an unsanctioned book.

He has failed to discipline park service employees who deliberately omitted and misrepresented scientific data.

And he is pushing for policy changes that would give corporate donors unprecedented influence over park managers and National Park Service decisions.

We and the Park Service cannot wait. Jarvis must go.

5-23-16 E&E Daily: Lawmaker calls for Jarvis to resign

Another congressman this morning joined the small band of lawmakers questioning whether Jonathan Jarvis should continue to lead the National Park Service.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) announced during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing that he had sent President Obama a letter last week urging him to ask Jarvis to resign over the director’s decision to write an unauthorized book for an NPS concessionaire.

“Should he choose not to resign, I believe you must relieve him of his duties immediately,” the congressman wrote.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — on which Hice also sits — have previously argued that Jarvis may need to step aside (Greenwire, June 14).

In both the letter and today’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, Hice said he was upset both by Jarvis’ initial decision and his response to congressional oversight of that mistake, as well as instances of sexual harassment and other ethical violations at NPS exposed by Interior’s Office of Inspector General.

E&E Daily

INTERIOR:

Lawmaker calls for Jarvis to resign

Corbin Hiar, E&E reporter

Published: Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another congressman this morning joined the small band of lawmakers questioning whether Jonathan Jarvis should continue to lead the National Park Service.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) announced during a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing that he had sent President Obama a letter last week urging him to ask Jarvis to resign over the director’s decision to write an unauthorized book for an NPS concessionaire.

“Should he choose not to resign, I believe you must relieve him of his duties immediately,” the congressman wrote.

Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — on which Hice also sits — have previously argued that Jarvis may need to step aside (Greenwire, June 14).

In both the letter and today’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, Hice said he was upset both by Jarvis’ initial decision and his response to congressional oversight of that mistake, as well as instances of sexual harassment and other ethical violations at NPS exposed by Interior’s Office of Inspector General.

“I’ve been shocked at the culture of corruption and misconduct that has been allowed to persist at the National Park Service,” he said.

He asked Mary Kendall, Interior’s deputy inspector general, about an apology email Jarvis sent to all NPS employees over the book deal (Greenwire, June 2).

“I thought it was terribly qualified and not as sincere as I would like to have seen,” said Kendall, whose office is working on at least one additional report of sexual harassment at NPS.

There was no one at the hearing to take the beleaguered director’s side. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) said the subcommittee had invited Interior to provide a high-level representative to testify; the agency sent Steve Guertin, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s deputy director of policy. And ranking member Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and the rest of the subcommittee’s Democratic members declined to attend after a daylong sit-in over gun control and a series of late-night votes.

The Republicans also lamented the lack of any representative from the Department of Justice. They had invited Attorney General Loretta Lynch to send someone to explain why DOJ has declined to prosecute 17 of the 29 criminal cases that the OIG has sent to the agency over the course of six months.

“Rather than send a witness, DOJ instead put off the committee for days, questioned committee staff as to whether this committee has the right to request their presence at the witness table and ultimately suggested that we read the ‘Principles of Federal Prosecution’ online instead,” said subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

“Let me make this clear: It is completely appropriate for this committee to request the presence of the Department of Justice at the witness table,” he added. “We have a valid interest in its involvement in these OIG investigations, and in learning, from DOJ itself, about its processes for handling OIG referrals. The Department of Justice’s refusal to be here today makes me wonder what their motivations for failing to prosecute these cases really are.”

The rest of the hearing focused on a series of high-profile cases of misconduct that the OIG has uncovered in recent months.

Guertin sharply criticized Stephen Barton, the service’s former chief of administration and information management for wildlife and sport fish restoration, who repeatedly failed to disclose that the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies paid him more than $375,000 over seven years for his services. FWS has sent Barton a collection notice to recoup more than $96,000 it paid on flights that allowed him to work both jobs (Greenwire, June 8).

Full committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) had questions for Kendall about the Interior Department’s former regulatory chief, who the OIG found had “used her position and influence” to hire a young man who appears to be a family friend over more qualified veteran applicants (E&E Daily, June 23).

Lawmakers also sought to assess the damage caused by a U.S. Geological Survey lab in Colorado that an OIG report found consistently manipulated lab results that are used by the Energy Resources Program and many other entities from at least 2008 to 2014, and possibly as far back as 1996.

Twitter: @corbinhiar Email: chiar@eenews.net

4-25-16 Marin Voice: Point Reyes lawsuit undermines Marin’s progressive traditions

Huey Johnson, and those who wish to ban ranching in Point Reyes National Seashore, are cherry-picking documents, rewriting history, gulling Marin, the courts and the public by redeploying the same tactics used against Lunny’s oyster farm: withhold and selectively edit not only laws and legislation but original documents they cite to justify their actions, then import and invent new data to suit.

Specifically, the plaintiffs’ case against Point Reyes’ ranchers cites one section of the 1916 legislation that established the National Park Service, supporting their contention, while ignoring its historic Marin County origins and intent, admitting only in legal fine print that a section immediately below permits the activity they wish to ban.

*     *     *     *     *

The filing does not cite Section 3: “… The Secretary of the Interior may, under such rules and regulations and on such terms as he may prescribe, grant the privilege to graze livestock within any national park, monument or reservation herein referred to when in his judgement such use is not detrimental to the primary purpose for which such park, monument, or reservation was created, except that such provisions shall not apply to the Yellowstone National Park.”

Marin Voice: Point Reyes park lawsuit undermines Marin’s progressive traditions

A cow crossing sign stands along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at the Historic Ranch C on the grounds of Point Reyes National Seashore in Point Reyes Station, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. Environmentalists have sued the National Park Service, seeking to block the agency from granting 20-year leases to ranchers at the park until environmental studies are completed of the impact of the cattle on the park’s water, wildlife and public recreation.(Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)

By John Hulls

Posted: 04/25/16, 2:32 PM PDT | Updated: 7 hrs ago

Huey Johnson, and those who wish to ban ranching in Point Reyes National Seashore, are cherry-picking documents, rewriting history, gulling Marin, the courts and the public by redeploying the same tactics used against Lunny’s oyster farm: withhold and selectively edit not only laws and legislation but original documents they cite to justify their actions, then import and invent new data to suit.

Specifically, the plaintiffs’ case against Point Reyes’ ranchers cites one section of the 1916 legislation that established the National Park Service, supporting their contention, while ignoring its historic Marin County origins and intent, admitting only in legal fine print that a section immediately below permits the activity they wish to ban.

Their publicity quotes, from the National Park Service Act, Section 1, that the park service’s “… mission is to ‘conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for future generations.’”

The filing does not cite Section 3: “… The Secretary of the Interior may, under such rules and regulations and on such terms as he may prescribe, grant the privilege to graze livestock within any national park, monument or reservation herein referred to when in his judgement such use is not detrimental to the primary purpose for which such park, monument, or reservation was created, except that such provisions shall not apply to the Yellowstone National Park.”

The full language reflects its Marin history and intent, when in 1915, Marin Congressman Bill Kent sponsored the National Park Service Act.

President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law on Aug. 25, the following year.

In 1905 Kent had also saved an inaccessible redwood grove from being harvested for rebuilding after the San Francisco Earthquake. His family donated it to the United States.

President Theodore Roosevelt, using the power of the Antiquities Act, declared it a national monument, suggesting that the woods be named after him.

Kent demurred and recommended naming the grove after their mutual friend, guide to the president on his wilderness trip to Yosemite: John Muir.

The lawsuit is clever, clearly a legal, PR and fund-raising tool. The litigants’ website and press releases create the false image of environmentalists stopping a reckless park service from bowing to the financial benefits of “welfare ranchers” trashing the environment … so send money.

They cite discredited documents, including the park service’s economic study, unsubstantiated references to a huge industrial footprint and allegations of water pollution from cattle, claiming that “everyone knows” grazing is bad, ignoring the benefits of sustainable practices.

Videos of West Marin on the Marin Agricultural Land Trust website reveal the falsity of the allegations and show how modern ranching sustains and preserves our beloved landscapes.

Johnson, the Center for Biodiversity and Western Waterways are implacably opposed to grazing. After the closing of the oyster farm, they see an opportunity to advance their ideology using similar tactics.

As ideologues, looking to retrieve a past that never was, they want to exclude those who disagree with them.

The original 1916 Act refutes their lawsuit’s claims.

Note Marin’s 100-year progressive traditions: Bill Kent’s legislation, Caroline Livermore and friends who in the 1930s hired a planner to anticipate the impact of the newly opened Golden Gate Bridge, and state Sen. Peter Behr’s 1969 gathering of disparate elements, including the ranchers, into the Save Our Seashore campaign that in 1972 finally saved Point Reyes National Seashore.

To support ideological obsession, click the “donate” button and await the next lawsuit.

Or continue Marin’s environmental tradition of education, inclusion and planning for a practical future that benefits everyone.

An easy choice.

John Hulls, a former West Marin resident, is an environmental researcher and scientific coordinator who has been involved in local issues.

2006 First False claim published by NPS, staff scientist Dr. Sarah Allen, lead author

2006:  First false claim published by NPS. Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) staff scientist Dr. Sarah Allen, lead author of PRNS publication “Drakes Estero, A Sheltered Wilderness Estuary” reports oyster farm operations are harming the ecology of the estero and begins a campaign to shut down the historic operation. The agency has no evidence for these allegations.

The fraudulent Sheltered Wilderness report appears to have been a response to the May 18, 2006 Point Reyes Light article Drakes Bay Oyster Farm Has Little Impact On Estero. The evidence for this is reported by Dave Mitchell in this must-read story about the early history of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm tragedy. (Mitchell is former editor and publisher of the Point Reyes Light, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for Mitchell’s story on the Synanon cult. We are grateful that his important early work about NPS mistreatment of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm is still available online.)

For more, go to:

http://savedrakesbay.com/core/history-of-false-science-about-dboc/

4-26-16 savedrakesbay.com Errors, Omissions, and Distortions in “The Oyster War” book by Summer Brennan

http://savedrakesbay.com/core/oyster-war-list-of-errors-and-omissions/

Oyster War Error List

 

Page 1                  “a reporter covering the war between oysters and wilderness”

So far the Drakes Bay Oyster controversy has extended to 120 months. Brennan claims to have direct knowledge of the situation based on the 5 months she spent in West Marin in 2012, working for the Point Reyes Light. During her summer at the Light, Brennan wrote over 40 features and obituaries. Only 5 stories were about Drakes Bay Oyster Company. During this same period, the Light published 4 stories about DBOC bylined “Light Staff.” Brennan was not covering the story in the sense she implies. If it had been her beat, or a serious part of her job, one would expect her to have visited the oyster farm at least once during her summer in West Marin. She did not, even after Kevin expressly invited her in an email in July 2012.

Page 9                  Brennan claims that an oyster worker given the pseudonym “Oscar” was fired after taking her for a ride in an oyster boat. Nobody was fired. Hugo, the worker who took Brennan out on the boat, quit his job at the oyster farm and went to work for Dave Evans in West Marin. He now lives in Reno, not in Mexico still looking for work as reported at the end of the book. One phone call would have yielded this information. Instead, Brennan wove a tale around an assumption. The whole story of the boat tour is highly fictionalized. According to Hugo, in the account he gave to the farm managers at the time, Brennan told him she was authorized to accompany him, when she plainly was not.

Page 18                Drakes Bay Oysters were “hearty and often quite large, with an overpowering creaminess.” They came in all sizes and were usually described as very briny. See Rowan Jacobsen.

Page 18                “Chefs say they are better cooked than raw.” Highly unlikely. Who supposedly said this?

Page 52                Here and in many other places, Brennan falsely claims that there were never any native oysters in the area. NPS used a similar argument for similar reasons—when the NAS panel pointed out that one benefit of oyster farming overlooked by the park service is that the farmed oysters provided ecological services, which made up for the native oysters that would have been there had they not been overharvested roughly 100 years ago, NPS pushed back with the assertion that the historical numbers of native oysters were lower than had been assumed. Brennan is the first to claim there were never ANY native oysters, and the claim is absurd.

Page 65               Fred Smith seems to be a key source. He is presented as an important person in the story, with a detailed, sympathetic portrayal. Brennan fails to disclose that she is friends with him. She also fails to report the one significant interaction Smith had with the oyster farm:  sending a letter to the water board about alleged pollution at the oyster farm–false charges that were immediately dismissed. Fred Smith left EAC in 2010, four years before the shutdown of the farm. Yet he is presented as if he is the key EAC figure; the work of Amy Trainer, who was in fact the key anti-oyster-farm operative at EAC for the crucial years of 2010 – 2014, is barely mentioned.

Page 79                This passage uses Fred Smith’s thoughts from several years ago to imply that the ranches are ecologically unsound, and that they don’t belong in a national park unit.

“But as he drove through the Point Reyes National Seashore’s pastoral zone, he was shocked by what he saw. Farms! Industry! Inside a federally protected natural area! Many of the Seashore ranches seemed to be in poor ecological condition, and in a national park! “Why is the park allowing this?” he thought. If things here were handled the way they were in other national parks, Fred thought, if some of the Point Reyes ranches didn’t clean up their act, it was only a matter of time before they would have to go.”

No facts are provided to substantiate this insinuation that the ranches need to be cleaned up.

Page 95                Brennan writes that Ralph Mihan “surveyed the situation” and his “opinion was guided by the Wilderness Act.” Unless Brennan interviewed him, and there is no indication that she did, we don’t know what Mihan did, we only know what the letter says. The letter is suspicious because it is differs from everything else in the public record. Mihan was a field solicitor, a local NPS lawyer, someone Don would have easy access to. Do field solicitors make policy? Do they even discover policy, normally? Here, as in every other case we studied, Brennan takes the NPS narrative at face value; that’s an odd pattern for a so-called journalist.

Page 120              Brennan writes that Drakes Estero was labeled potential wilderness “to be sorted out later.” That’s not what the legislative history shows. Brennan seems to have decided “potential wilderness” is the same as “wilderness.” That’s not the case.

Page 121-126       Brennan conflates John Burton and Phillip Burton into one person. It is former Congressman John Burton who wrote the Point Reyes Wilderness act. His brother, former Representative Phillip Burton, was involved in the GGNRA. (Brennan never refers to John Burton, and on page 126 refers to the wrong Burton when she writes “The idea of ‘potential wilderness’ was first used by Congress in 1976, the year that the Point Reyes Wilderness Act was passed. It was very much in Burton’s style…”) Phillip Burton died in 1983. John Burton is alive and is the current chair of the California Democratic Party.

Page 128, 129      The passage about Congressman McCloskey is surprisingly disrespectful and implies that he is senile. He is not.

Brennan distorts Congressman McCloskey’s involvement in a way that makes it sound like he supported the oyster farm only as an individual, and solely out of personal preference. She writes that Congressman McCloskey “has come out and said that the intention was always to have the oyster farm stay in operation. He’s written letters on the farm’s behalf…” and says that he “uses the presence of the ranches to support the notion” that the oyster farm was meant to say. This is not a “notion,” it is a fact of legislative history.

Congressman McCloskey spelled this out in a letter to then-Secretary Salazar, which was co-authored with former Congressman John Burton and former Assemblyman Bill Bagley. Representative Burton was the lead author of the 1976 Point Reyes Wilderness Act. Bill Bagley wrote the 1965 bill that transferred ownership of waters surrounding Point Reyes to the National Park Service. All three of these men remembered that the oyster farm was expected to stay at the time the Seashore was formed, but they did not rely on memory, but also researched the issue for ten weeks. As was reported in the Point Reyes Light in August 2011, the letter “cites numerous archival documents and testimonies—including statements by former National Park Service Director Conrad Wirth, the Sierra Club and former Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife Nathaniel Reed—that the authors contend collectively prove the legal precedent for the continuation of oystering in Drakes Estero.”

This letter was widely reported in the media because of its importance. Brennan fails to mention it. The letter is not even included in her extensive bibliography.

Page 163              Brennan writes that Kevin Lunny was shown the Mihan letter before the sale was final. This is false, and echoes the NPS/EAC false narrative. The truth is that the Mihan letter was not presented to the Lunnys until after they had turned around the oyster farm. Even the government has acknowledged that the Mihan letter was not provided to the Lunnys until after the purchase and cleanup. Brennan was informed of this by Peter Prows, a member of the Lunny legal team. He told her via email on February 7, 2015 (in response to her mass email to supporters, which she claims nobody responded to):

“The original 1972 contains a renewal clause that says it may be renewed by special use permit for so long as the oyster farm had a valid state water bottom lease — the term is substantially similar to the renewal clause that the other ranchers have been living under for decades. Let me know if you need a copy of the RUO

The Lunnys have told their version of the events leading up to the oyster farm purchase many times, including Don Neubacher’s encouragement. Their most recent thing was an opinion piece in the Light from this summer, Keep On Shucking.

Salazar’s memorandum makes clear that the Lunnys weren’t told the lease wouldn’t be renewed until after they bought the farm. He acknowledges they bought the farm in 2004, and says they weren’t told that the renewal clause wouldn’t be exercised until 2005.

There’s lots more out there on this, but frankly it’s kind of irrelevant once Congress passed Section 124 specifically to override NPS’s (incorrect) position that the lease couldn’t be renewed. Yet in denying the lease renewal, Salazar thumbed his nose at Congress and said, despite this new law authoring him to renew the lease, it would still be against the law to renew the lease. That always was, and still remains, nonsense.”

Pages 165-166     “A small number of pre-historic Olympia oyster shells were found inside shell middens near the estero, i.e. the Olympias, but carbon dating has revealed that those shells varied in age between 1,200 and 2,200 years old—more on that later. These scant shell samples could have come from the estero as living oysters, perhaps during a time when conditions were different, or the shells themselves could have been traded from tribes living further north, where the native oysters were known to be abundant.”

Brennan misunderstood (or is misrepresenting) the purpose of the study. The Sonoma State researchers sampled the bottom of the middens, carbon-dating the oldest oysters, because their purpose was to determine the age of the middens. It was not an oyster study. The middens are loaded with oyster shells. They are not “scant.”

The bottom line: native oysters have been in Drakes Estero going back several thousand years.

Page 169              Brennan repeats NPS Superintendent Don Neubacher’s slander that Kevin “is not good with money” without any further comment, much less refutation, and doesn’t supply any context.

Page 170              Brennan refers to a version of the Elliot-Fisk paper that says the tunicate D. vex was “likely introduced through oyster farming.” Brennan lets this stand even though it is not true. She later points out correctly that the tunicate needs a substrate to grow, and that oysters supply one, but doesn’t point out that the tunicate is a nuisance everywhere, or that the tunicate also clings to rocks, ropes or any other hard surface. The tunicate is believed to move around the world in ballast water and has invaded the temperate regions of the oceans – globally. The tunicate was NOT “introduced” by the farm.

Page 171              Concerning the invasive tunicate, the author writes: “over the years their presence only increased.” As Dr. Goodman has pointed out in court filings based on the scientific literature, there is no evidence to suggest that the tunicate has increased over the past decade.

Page 177              Brennan quotes from Sarah Allen’s April 26, 2007 Trip Report (without giving the date or title) as if it were fact: “She also wrote about the presence of a white boat with two people in it, poling through an eelgrass bed. When the boat went by a group of seals, all but one of the animals flushed into the water.” Brennan fails to mention that Dr. Goodman has presented evidence that this report was fabricated. The evidence clearly shows that the boat in Allen’s description uses a path the oyster boats never took (as documented in the 300,000+ NPS secret camera photos, a DBOC boat never once took this route), that the engine on the oyster boat was broken on this date, that the area where the boat operators were allegedly poling through eelgrass is actually deep water where propeller fouling is impossible, and that at the time of the supposed sighting the workers had long since clocked out (time and date stamped) and gone home.

Page 178              The author fails to report the false claims made by Sarah Allen and Don Neubacher in May 2007 at a meeting of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. That meeting is described in the book, and Brennan quotes Sarah Allen as saying: “The damage of the commercial oyster operations on Drakes Estero is more easily documented, because the park service has over twenty-five years of continuous monitoring data from Drakes Estero.” The Park Service didn’t actually have 25 years of data; Brennan provides a rationalization — in Brennan’s view, it was good enough that Sarah Allen had been studying seals for that long. Brennan then discusses a different aspect of the dispute.

In fact, the most important statement by Sarah Allen at that 2007 meeting was this: “Over the past few weeks we have documented oyster operations disturbing mothers with pups and oyster bags left on sandbars where seals would normally give birth and nurse their pups. The harm is resulting in abandonment of one area where more than 250 seals, including 100 pups 2 years ago occurred in that spot, this year chronic disturbance and placement of bags on the nursery area has caused an 80% reduction in the seals dropping to around 35 this last Saturday. I was out there on Saturday.”

Those charges were false, and they have been proven to be false. Evidence obtained via FOIA shows that even Sarah Allen did not think she had any evidence for those claims. The false charges made their way to NOAA, which would have been very concerned had the claims been true; when NOAA asked Allen for the evidence, she wrote back explaining it did not exist. Allen’s false statement, as well as others, was later retracted by the Park Service. All this is a matter of public record. None of it is reported by Brennan.

Page 181              Feinstein suddenly appears: “but then Senator Feinstein got involved” and immediately she “called a private meeting in Olema” ; Brennan writes that “afterwards, at her request, the Sheltered Wilderness report was taken off the NPS website and replaced with an acknowledgement of errors.”

This passage is an enormous oversimplification that omits the key facts. The Marin County Board of Supervisors formally voted to ask Senator Feinstein to intervene because of serious malfeasance on the part of the NPS. Before deciding to get involved, she asked her staff to look into the matter. Following months of research and investigation, Senator Feinstein’s office found that the park service was lying about the science, the law, and the history. The Senator did not get involved for political reasons, as the book implies.

Page 181              Brennan neglects to mention that a few weeks after the July 21, 2007 Olema meeting (the meeting requested by Senator Feinstein), Jarvis did give Goodman the Park harbor seal database (as the Senator had requested), and his analysis showed that there was indeed an 80% decline, precisely as Gordon Bennett, EAC, and NPS/Don/Sarah had described it numerically, but that this decline occurred at Sandbar A, far away from the oyster lease and oyster boats. There were no oyster bags at all. The likely cause, as shown in the NPS’ own harbor seal monitoring database, was a sudden connection of the sandbar to the mainland, and the resulting disturbance by both predators and park visitors. Allen retracted the 80% claim (using an unconvincing excuse) at the MMC meeting in February 2010.

Page 182              The discussion on this page makes it sound as if Kevin signed the agreement with the surrender clause. He did not. The book omits the key fact that Senator Feinstein and Mary Bomar, then NPS Director, forced Jarvis to remove that surrender clause, and that the removal of that clause is the reason Kevin signed the agreement.

Page 184              Brennan writes of the National Academy of committee tasked to evaluate the scientific data about oyster farming in Drakes Estero: “The committee, dubbed the Committee on Best Practices for Shellfish Mariculture and the Effects of Commercial Activities in Drakes Estero, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, California, included scientists from academic institutions in Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Southern California, Ireland and Scotland. The committee was to be overseen by a number of professionals, including scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, but also representatives from Boeing and Exxon Mobil.”

This is apparently a reference to two members of the Ocean Studies Board (OSB), JAY S. PEARLMAN, The Boeing Company (ret.), Port Angeles, Washington and MARY (MISSY) H. FEELEY, ExxonMobil Exploration Company, Houston, Texas. The makeup of OSB is not relevant to the study. These board members did not “oversee” the project. That notion seems to have been introduced to support the author’s ideological bias against industry and to support the NPS/EAC/Sierra Club attack on the NAS. Both Brennan and these activists have worked hard to obfuscate the fact that the 11 marine ecologists assembled by the NAS, after 15 months of investigation, found no environmental problem with continuing the oyster farming in Drakes Estero.

Page 188              Brennan writes that people didn’t see why the oyster farm “couldn’t be lumped in with” the Pastoral Zone. Here again, she ignores the well-documented legislative history; it was “lumped in” originally. There is clear evidence of this, yet Brennan dismisses the argument without even presenting it.

Page 193              Brennan writes that Kevin told the media he knew the park did not plan to renew the permit. While there is one published interview that seems to quote Kevin saying this (in Marin Magazine, mentioned elsewhere in the book), in most interviews he made it clear that he was first given the Park’s blessing to purchase the farm, then he cleaned it up, and only then did Superintendent Neubacher begin to claim that “his hands were tied” and the farm’s permit could not be renewed. (This happened at roughly the same time the character assassination campaign began.) Because there is no written record of these early discussions, Brennan reached out to longtime Lunny supporter Sarah Rolph to learn whether Kevin had ever been told he might be able to keep the farm past 2012. Sarah made a good-faith effort to explain exactly what Kevin did and didn’t think, know, and believe in these early years, yet Brennan seems to have purposely disregarded it, and in the book, has misrepresented what Rolph said. See Rolph’s letter to Brennan for details.

Page 194              Brennan quotes Kevin as saying “It wasn’t a proposal, it was a bankruptcy proposal.” This out-of-context quote suggests that Kevin’s primary concern was financial. That is not the case. The real issue is that it was a sham offer. Had the author interviewed Senator Feinstein she might have learned that the Senator was extremely angry about having been lied to about this purported offer of a Tomales Bay opportunity that turned out not to exist.

Page 194              Brennan writes that “the park’s wildlife cameras show that (what appeared to be) one of the DBOC boats was indeed present in the estuary when the company’s records indicated that it wasn’t. The workers did not always follow the rules.” These are serious charges – and both false — yet the book provides no evidence for them. The so-called wildlife cameras that Brennan is referring to here were NPS secret surveillance cameras trained on the oyster beds that were monitoring oyster boats and oyster workers. The NPS did make the claim that the photo Brennan refers to showed what “appeared to be” a DBOC boat. This accusation was in an NPS document entitled “Clarification of Law and Policy”. When examined, the photo captured two kayaks, not an oyster boat. Here, again, Brennan repeats a false claim that the public record shows is false.

Page 194              Brennan writes that “Details were starting to warp and change.” The implication seems to be that the oyster farm supporters were shading the truth. Yet the examples given don’t support this implication at all. Historians tell us that commercial oyster farming in Drakes Estero began the 1930s, which is roughly eight decades ago. Some reports used the more flowery “almost 100 years” or “almost a century,” sometimes to indicate that informal farming is believed to have taken place before the commercial oyster farms. This is a normal level of inaccuracy, not an attempt to deceive. Similarly, the varied reports of 30 to 60 percent of California oysters are a function of whether one is referring to oysters consumed or oysters grown, and depends on the year or years being referenced. The 30 to 60 percent range is entirely accurate.

Page 195              Brennan writes, “In May, the NAS report came out in earnest. It found that Sheltered Wilderness had in some instances selectively presented, over interpreted, or misrepresented available scientific information on DBOC operations by exaggerating the negative and overlooking potentially beneficial side effects.” Brennan then goes on to say “However, other than the fact that Sarah Allen has misreported Roberto Anima’s findings, the main argument made by the NAS was itself fatally flawed.”

To make her case that the Academy was wrong, Brennan claims to refute the Academy’s argument that farmed oysters replace the ecosystem services once provided by native oysters, using her novel theory that there never were any native oysters. Even if that were true, it would be beside the point, because the replacement of ecosystem services is not the report’s “main argument” (an odd way of putting it; scientists report findings, they don’t make arguments).

The actual key finding of the Academy’s report is that there is no evidence of any substantive negative environmental impact from oyster farming. Brennan, astonishingly, omits this.

Page 197              “In July 2009 Dianne Feinstein authored a rider” – no context is provided for this. The implication is that it was political favoritism, which is most definitely not the case. What Brennan fails to report is that NPS had argued (falsely) that it did not have the authority to extend to permit, so the Senator gave them that authority.

Page 198              Brennan writes “supporters of the oyster farm failed to make a distinction between the pastoral zone, which did not have any kind of wilderness designation, and the estuary, which did. Either you respected the wilderness designation of Drakes Estero, or you didn’t.” Drakes Estero was designated “potential wilderness.” Brennan seems to purposely conflate “potential wilderness” with “wilderness” – yet there is a significant distinction. Professor Laura Watt, whose academic thesis is on the management of Point Reyes National Seashore, has studied this issue and written extensively about it. Brennan completely ignores Laura Watt’s work. Brennan also omits the legislative history that supports the continuation of the pre-existing use of oyster farming in Drakes Estero within wilderness.

Page 198              “Meanwhile, Drakes Bay Oyster Company was violating the Coastal Act by refusing to sign necessary permits, racking up fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.” This is highly misleading.

The Coastal Commission and the NPS were working very closely together. At first, all seemed to support the Lunny involvement at the oyster farm. Later, the Coastal Commission appeared to team up with NPS against the Lunnys. The Coastal Commission’s harassment of the Lunnys led to a lawsuit, which the Lunnys won. The Commission’s inappropriate enforcement orders (based on many of the inaccurate NPS assertions) were overturned and the Commission was found guilty of abuse of power.

Page 228              “As soon as a rider was passed NPS was tasked with producing an EIS with which to help Ken Salazar make his verdict.” Tasked by whom? This is a key point. Many knowledgeable observers believe NPS did not need to produce an EIS in order to provide the new permit. Who decided to invoke NEPA? Why did Brennan bury that question, instead of raising it?

Page 229              The book’s discussion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement fails to substantively discuss the controversy over this document, which raged during the summer of 2012 when Brennan was in West Marin. The book presents no information about the serious flaws in the document, the proven falsehoods that are the subject of formal misconduct complaints, the process irregularities, the fact that it is not actually a legally valid document, or any of the other controversial issues that consumed West Marin when Brennan was in town writing local interest stories.

The draft EIS was so badly flawed that Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences to review it, and the academy provided serious criticism of the document, including the lack of a proper baseline. NEPA guidelines dictate that one baseline be used to compare the proposed actions. Remarkably, this EIS uses TWO baselines. This EIS improperly used the proposed (unknown) future removal of the farm as one of its baselines and the actual current condition and activity as the second (correct) baseline. The NPS selectively switched baselines to make the continuation of the same shellfish growing activity appear to have new impacts. The NPS refused to correct this abuse of NEPA in the final draft of the EIS that was provided to Secretary Salazar.

It is entirely inappropriate to make two different sets of comparisons, as the second NAS report spells out. That second NAS review is not even mentioned in Brennan’s book, much less discussed, although she wrote a news story about it when she was at the Light.

Brennan also fails to mention the explosive fact that EIS contains falsified scientific data. This was reported in a Newsweek article in January 2015, when Brennan was still gathering information for the book. The Newsweek story is especially notable because the scientist whose data was falsified, Brent Stewart, went on the record about the data falsification, which is certainly scientific misconduct. Yet Brennan ignores all this and sketches a tale in which the only scientific misconduct here is in Corey Goodman’s imagination.

Page 232              Brennan writes that the MMC panel members “did not agree on everything.” This is very misleading. One thing the scientists did agree on is that there is no reason to be concerned about the seal population in Drakes Estero, since it is nearing its carrying capacity.  Again, Brennan echoes the NPS/EAC criticism of the experts charged with the evaluation of environmental consequences of the oyster farm, experts who found no reason to stop oystering in Drakes Estero, a fact Brennan seems to have worked hard to omit.

Page 233              Brennan writes that “Ragen would eventually respond to Corey with a letter of his own.” Implies that this is the only time Ragen responded to Dr. Goodman. In fact there was a lot of back-and-forth between Goodman and Ragen during the time of the MMC work. Six months later, Ragen wrote this letter. It was almost certainly created specifically to make Goodman look bad to the NAS panel at Irvine; Neal Desai, National Parks and Conservation Assn., sent it to the panel at the last minute.. Brennan wrote a story about this while she was at the Light; her story reads like a hit piece on Goodman—it’s not clear whether she intended this, or was misled, but it is clear that she never looked into it again, and relied on her 2012 understanding of the situation when she wrote the book, rather than checking again with Goodman. She never interviewed Goodman for the book. Ragen was discredited over this and left the MMC; a complaint has been filed against him. All of this context is missing from the book.

Page 233              Dead baby seals are mentioned and described but the reader is given no idea how they fit in to the story, if indeed they do.

Page 235              Brennan writes, “After all, it was still unknown what made seals choose or abandon particular areas, and how deeply or not they could be affected by a ‘disturbance’.” This is incorrect. In fact, both marine mammal scientists and oyster farmers know quite a lot about this.

Page 235              Brennan writes that there were “ten instances of disturbance of seals by oyster boats in nine years.” This is not true, and it is shocking that it would be presented without a source or citation. This a very odd way for a so-called journalist to handle a central aspect of the dispute.

Page 235              Appendix F of the MMC report is said to have “confusing and conflicting information.” There is nothing confusing about the information in Appendix F, nor is the information there conflicting. It does conflict with the implication in the executive summary that there is some reason to believe the Becker paper showed a real correlation, but it’s that implication that’s incorrect, not the material in Appendix F.

Appendix F contains the verbatim reports of the marine mammal scientists who served on the MMC panel. Every single one of these reports says that the seals are obviously fine – the seal population in Drakes Estero is so large that the place is reaching its carrying capacity. The scientists also point out that the Becker paper wasn’t designed to find what it says it found, and that Harbor seals are well known to habituate to human activity.

Page 243              Brennan writes that Don’s letter to the Bank of Oakland was about a loan to “cover the cost of bringing things up to code.” Don’s letter to the bank clearly states that this was for “new facilities.” What is Brennan imagining the money was going to be used for, if not the new facilities?

The book presents a convoluted argument that the new processing plant and visitor center was never expected to be built. It is difficult to understand from the passage what is actually being argued here. She seems to be saying that Tom Johnson had these plans drawn up in order to buy time. She quotes from the Environmental Assessment conducted for the project in a way that emphasizes that the project was necessary to bring things up to code, but implies that this means something other than what the EA was very obviously about, the construction of a new visitor center and processing plant. The bank loan papers described the new facilities as approved by NPS in the EA. Brennan rests her case with a strawman argument: “The proposed renovations were not part of a grand, park-generated plan to build a gleaming new oyster-based visitor center.” Nobody ever said they were. That doesn’t mean the Seashore wouldn’t have gone along with the plan, after having issued a FONSI, if someone had come up with the money. It seems much more straightforward to infer they would have. And if they didn’t support the plan, it hardly seems likely that Don would have written the support letter to the bank for the new facilities. Brennan doesn’t even mention the FONSI, or the substance of the EA. The whole story is told so as to support her hypothesis that the plans were created just for show. She makes no attempt to include all relevant facts, nor did she interview the relevant people.

Page 251              Brennan says she agrees with the “dangerous precedent” argument and says the choice to keep the oyster farm would be “reversing wilderness designation.” This argument is only possible because she conflates “wilderness” with “potential wilderness.” Brennan ignores the many clear explanations about how the “potential” designation was actually used (the point was to protect the working landscapes, including the historic oyster farm). Brennan ignores the fact that the oyster farm pre-existed the 1964 wilderness act that blocks new development within wilderness. It does not require the dismantling of uses that pre-exist the act. Furthermore, this concept was specifically discussed by congress during the Pt. Reyes wilderness act where the authors of the bill agreed that the oyster farm could continue in wilderness because it was pre-existing. What precedent would continuing the oyster farm create?

Page 251              Brennan noticed that the Frost report is rather harsh about the “informant” and implies this is evidence that Goodman did something wrong. Actually it’s evidence that the report was heavily edited by Neubacher and/or Jarvis—this has been documented.

Page 252              Brennan writes, “It seemed that the outrage over the state of research at the National Park Service had eclipsed the conversation about environmental policy, and supporters of the oyster farm had changed the conversation completely.” This is highly misleading. The supporters never changed anything, they always pointed out that NPS lied about science, law, and history. It’s the park service that kept changing back and forth between legal arguments and science arguments (“arguments” is putting it very kindly).

Supporters were not outraged over “the state of research at the National Park Service.” Supporters are outraged that park service officials at Point Reyes National Seashore knowingly leveled false charges against the oyster farm, purposely creating a false narrative with which to deceive the public and elected officials, and misrepresenting scientific studies—their own and those of others. Brennan doesn’t present any information that would allow the reader to understand this position. Instead she implies that the Park Service did nothing wrong and that the supporters made everything up.

Page 258              Brennan mocks Goodman’s Dance Palace presentation and misrepresents it by presenting a tiny sliver of his remarks. The passage is written in a way that implies Goodman doesn’t care about red-legged frogs, when his point was that it was absurd for the NPS to discuss potential danger to red-legged frogs due to the continuation of oyster farming given that there are no red-legged frogs anywhere near the oyster farm.

Page 258              Brennan downplays the substitution of jet-ski data for actual oyster-farm data, implies it’s the only error, brushes off EIS falsehoods as “much to critique,” and apparently did not even consider the possibility that that those falsehoods were purposeful. There were months of public debate about these issues, and significant criticism, yet Brennan chooses not to present those facts.

Page 259              Brennan writes, “In November, Salazar flew out to California. He visited Point Reyes and Drakes Estero, spoke with the Lunnys and with their cattle ranching neighbors.”

This is highly misleading. Salazar met with the Lunnys at the oyster farm and anyone on the pro-oyster side including Steve Kinsey, scientists, etc., was required to be there for that meeting and no other and it all had to be jammed into 30 minutes. Then Salazar was escorted to a meeting at the Red Barn, insultingly called a “stakeholders meeting,” that included only the anti-oyster-farm activists. Phyllis Faber tried to attend that meeting and was denied entry.

Page 261              Brennan implies that the “first domino theory” on eliminating the ranches is just paranoia and not based on anything. Ignores that Phyllis Faber went on the record in the Light about Don having told her this was the plan. Brennan doesn’t reference the Light story and didn’t talk to Phyllis.

Page 273              Brennan discusses the Keystone Pipeline bill to which Vitter added DBOC protection, but fails to mention that Vitter is from Louisiana, a major shellfish-growing state. She apparently doesn’t realize the false science generated by the government is being used against shellfish growers.

Page 283              Brennan writes, “I wrote to Kevin repeatedly, asking him if I had gotten it wrong.”

Brennan never asked Kevin, or anyone associated with DBOC, to fact-check a single fact, story, or representation.

Brennan claims that Kevin refused to be interviewed, and that she contacted him repeatedly. In fact, she contacted Kevin only twice about the book. On July 9, 2013, Brennan informed Kevin via email that she planned to write a book about the oyster farm but did not yet have a contract. She said she was coming to town and wanted to speak with Kevin, but she never arranged an interview or tour. Instead, she showed up near the workday’s end, and bluffed her way onto an unauthorized boat trip.

The second and last contact was on January 14, 2015. At Brennan’s request, on Kevin’s behalf, DBOC media advisor Sarah Rolph had an email discussion with Brennan to try to work out interview details. Sarah offered Brennan an in-person interview, but Brennan refused. Instead, Brennan insisted on a Skype interview, and said she would send questions in advance. Even a Skype interview never occurred. Brennan’s questions were never submitted.

In July 2012 Kevin invited Brennan via email to visit the farm and get a private tour of both the shore operations and the growing areas. Brennan never took Lunny up on the invitation. During the five months that she lived in Point Reyes, Brennan apparently never once dropped by the oyster farm. She never took the tour, nor did she interview the farm manager or any of the oyster workers. She never met Kevin Lunny; when she interviewed him for the Point Reyes Light she chose to use phone and email.

Page 283              Brennan writes that she wrote to the supporters about the arguments for the farm and “nobody was able to come up with anything.” In fact, DBOC legal advisor Peter Prows did respond, and Sarah Rolph had already responded to a similar request. In both cases the information provided was ignored or misused.

Page 283              When asked by Brennan about Don Neubacher’s early conversations with Kevin Lunny, Sarah Rolph spent the better part of a week discussing this with Brennan via email. It’s a crucial part of the false narrative, and Rolph was hoping Brennan was sincere in wanting to get it right. Rolph told Brennan over and over again that there had been months of discussion, as described in Rolph’s story about this in the Russian River Times. Rolph said to Brennan:

“Kevin knew the permit expired in 2012, because he did his homework, and he knew that Don was worried about all the challenges because he had watched this all happen. Kevin knew that Don was considering a future non-renewal, because Don was open about that. There were months of discussion between Don and Kevin about the various challenges, the fact that the Coastal Commission was on the warpath, the potential for non-renewal, etc. Kevin made the very natural assumption that the possibility of non-renewal was driven by the problems and issues. It’s a perfectly logical assumption given everything we know about this historic resource. Who would shut down a beloved historic oyster farm AFTER it had been cleaned up? Nobody imagined that in 2004.”

Brennan misrepresents what Rolph told her, leaving out all context, and writing only: “the message I got was that, No, nobody with NPS told Kevin he could renew per se.

Page 285              Brennan writes, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Koch-backed group chose to fund the fight.” What “coincidence” is being asserted? The implication here of shadowy interests is entirely absurd. Cause of Action is not “Koch-backed” nor did the group fund anything. Cause of Action is one of many firms that provided pro bono support. Brennan omits from her book any mention of the reason Cause of Action was engaged.

Cause of Action was engaged specifically to help the Lunnys and Dr. Goodman file a Data Quality Act complaint about the false science used by the park service. That 71-page DQA complaint is one of 5 DQAs lodged about this malfeasance. Two of those DQAs were filed by the Point Reyes Light, the newspaper for which Brennan worked for five months. Not one of these complaints is mentioned in the book, or even in the extensive bibliography. Cause of Action is presented as if it were an ideological ally, when nothing could be further from the truth—this group was selected strictly for its expertise in DQA filings, and its work product was top notch. Given that this book is being marketed as non-fiction, Brennan’s choice to omit all of these relevant facts is highly inappropriate.

Page 285              Brennan claims that the removal of this farm did not threaten others. That is incorrect, as documented by East Coast Shellfish Association president Bob Rheault, who has written several significant letters about this. Shellfish growers are very upset about the government’s false charges about oyster farming being bad for the environment, because they could have a chilling effect on future oyster-farm licenses.

Comment by John Hulls: While she (Summer Brennan) quoted Point Reyes Light articles in her bibliography, none of the papers award winning coverage is mentioned in the text, which is especially relevant considering the Light DQA’s and coverage of false science and economic studies.

3-30-16 Bohemian.com: Lawsuit threatens future of cattle at PRNS

 

Beef of Burden

Lawsuit threatens future of cattle at Point Reyes National Seashore—or does it?

03-20-16 This American Life on seals in San Diego

“…the show makes it clear the seals were never ‘threatened’…”

 

The Bennet Brigade and the environmental lawsuits are alive and well in San Diego, rivaling the Bennet/Desai/Trainer efforts here, and shows what happens when this behavior gets out of hand in a major metropolitan area.

 

http://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/582/when-the-beasts-come-marching-in

 

Unbelievable….the truth and real purpose becomes totally lost in acrimony on both sides….and the show makes it clear the seals were never ‘threatened’  and no middle ground was acceptable to the seal proponents…it was seal  proponents vs. shared use in which the shared use proponents where characterized as haters of seals and wildlife….This needs wide publicity….

 

Best,

John Hulls

03-20-16 NPT Cattle Grazing in PRNS Challenged in Lawsuit

Ethan Lane, currently the executive director of the Public Lands Council and of federal lands for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, prepared a report on ranching in the area for the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association in 2014. He said recently that the ranchers are “under imminent threat.”

The groups that filed the lawsuit “are attempting to create something there that has never been there,” Mr. Lane said. “They totally ignore the fact that that has been an agriculturally managed landscape for hundreds of years. You’ve never had a pure wilderness situation at Point Reyes.”

*     *     *     *     *

Mr. Lane, of the Public Lands Council, said ranchers at Point Reyes “are some of the most environmentally sensitive stewards of resources that I’ve ever come across. For them to become a target of this is doubly frustrating.”

*     *     *     *     *

Ranchers say best management practices, existing leases and assurances to Seashore ranchers, and the original intent of Congress have been ignored in the face of outside political pressure. Short-term lease renewals hinder their ability to qualify for loans and matching grants, and decrease incentive to invest in improvements.

“This is a kind of Frankenstein of the Park Service’s own creation,” Mr. Lane said, “and I don’t think they know where to go from here.”

 

By Scott Johnson on March 20th, 2016

Point Reyes National Seashore long has existed with ranching within its borders, but now some environmental groups want the cattle to go/Bruce Keegan

Less than two years after an oyster-farming operation was shut down in Point Reyes National Seashore following a dispute that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, three environmental groups are challenging the National Park Service over the planned renewal of leases to cattle-ranching and dairy operations that have existed on the coastal California peninsula for 150 years.

However, other conservation groups, some of which approved of the decision to remove Drakes Bay Oyster Company and convert the vacated land into wilderness, support continued sustainable farming at Point Reyes. They point out that the ranching families were instrumental in the establishment of the Seashore in 1962 and that turning away from that relationship would threaten the creation of public land elsewhere.

And for Bob McClure, whose daughters are the fifth generation of his family in the dairy business at Point Reyes, nearly 130 years of history is at risk.

“We are concerned, but we have not packed our suitcases yet,” he said. “I believe the park will continue to do what it can to support agriculture in the park.”

At issue is whether the Park Service has considered the impact that these ranches have on the environment and wildlife at Point Reyes, and whether the proposal to issue new leases without an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement violates the National Environmental Policy Act.

Three groups – the Resource Renewal Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project – filed a lawsuit Feb. 10 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco seeking to require the park to update its General Management Plan and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement before allowing the extension of grazing leases. They argue that the cattle and dairy operations, comprising more than 18,000 of the park’s 71,000 acres, negatively affect the environment (water quality, methane emissions, erosion, fish habitat), the infrastructure (pavement degradation from milk trucks) and recreational opportunities at Point Reyes. They say the park is relying on an outdated management plan, adopted in 1980, that fails to address current conditions, such as climate change, drought in the area and an expanding footprint of Tule elk.

“The Park Service continues to authorize commercial grazing permits at the Point Reyes National Seashore without an Environmental Impact Statement on how ranching impacts the park, which is needed to ensure protection of the park’s ecosystems,” Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity who lives in West Marin, said in a release. “We’re filing this lawsuit because we love the park and believe it’s up to everyone to make sure the National Seashore is managed sustainably so that future generations can enjoy it as we have.”

Some environmental groups contend that cattle shouldn’t be allowed within the borders of Point Reyes National Seashore/Karen Klitz

A spokesperson for the national seashore declined to comment due to the active litigation, but in 2014 the park began to prepare a new Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan, which includes an Environmental Assessment, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. A scoping fact sheet notes that these working ranches, in an area known as the Pastoral Zone, “represent an important contribution to the superlative natural and cultural resources of these NPS lands.”

More than 3,000 public comments were submitted on the plan. As of now, release of the Environmental Assessment for public review and comment is scheduled for later in 2016, which is a year behind the original schedule. No progress has recently been made on the General Management Plan.

“We feel the current planning process allows for full public review,” said Kate Powers, president of the Marin Conservation League, which supports continued ranching at the Seashore.

Ethan Lane, currently the executive director of the Public Lands Council and of federal lands for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, prepared a report on ranching in the area for the Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association in 2014. He said recently that the ranchers are “under imminent threat.”

The groups that filed the lawsuit “are attempting to create something there that has never been there,” Mr. Lane said. “They totally ignore the fact that that has been an agriculturally managed landscape for hundreds of years. You’ve never had a pure wilderness situation at Point Reyes.”

The lawsuit shines a light on an iconic coastline with rich natural, historical, cultural, and recreational value. Balancing those interests and understanding the intent of different legislation has led to decades of disagreements over priorities, purpose and protection at Point Reyes.

A Complex Land-Use History

Ranchers began grazing the area in the 1800s and were pioneers of California’s dairy industry, modernizing production equipment and methods. The lush grasses, fortified by a cool climate and moisture from rain and fog, make ideal conditions for grazing cattle. The Pastoral Zone is bordered to the east by Tomales Bay, to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the south by Drakes Bay, with Drakes Estero jutting inland to create four finger-shaped bays. The cattle dot windswept grasslands, with an occasional grouping of houses, barns and sheds that form the ranch complexes historically known by an alphabetical designation (A to Z). Some hug rugged headlands overlooking the ocean, and  others gently slope to sandy beaches.

That landscape, just a 40-mile drive north of San Francisco, was an obvious draw for developers and conservationists, which pushed property prices higher. As pressure increased in the 1950s and ’60s, Point Reyes ranchers joined with the Sierra Club to preserve their way of life. They offered to voluntarily sell their land to the Park Service at a reduced price in exchange for the opportunity to continue operating on the peninsula. Legislation to create Point Reyes National Seashore was signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. The original allocation of $14 million from Congress was not enough to buy all the land, and it wasn’t until 1970 that an additional $43.5 million was secured to complete the purchases.

The pastoral zone is a bucolic area of Point Reyes National Seashore where cattle ranching is permitted/Karen Klitz

At the time of the authorization, there were about 27 working ranches at Point Reyes, according to Ranching on the Point Reyes Peninsula, a history of dairy and beef ranches released in 1993 by park historian D.S. (Dewey) Livingston. The ranchers signed 25- to 30-year reservations of use and occupancy leases as well as special use permits for cattle grazing. Since then, leases have been renewed on short-term arrangements, generally maxing out at five years, as the family operations have been passed down from generation to generation. Today, 13 ranching families remain in the Pastoral Zone.

Now that most of the original reservations of use have expired, the lawsuit says the Park Service is under no obligation to renew the leases and permits. It cites the agency’s 2006 Management Policies, which states the Park Service should “phase out the commercial grazing of livestock whenever possible.” Ranching, under the decades-old park management plan, violates the Seashore’s mandate for “maximum protection” of wildlife and natural resources, the lawsuit says.

Gordon Bennett, the president of local conservation group Save Our Seashore and a supporter of continued ranching in the park, said the lawsuit definition is “not supportable.”

“If NPS held to the lawsuit’s strict interpretation of ‘maximum protection,’ then there would be no trails, no roads to Seashore beaches and no visitor centers,” Mr. Bennett said.

Point Reyes isn’t alone in having cattle graze within its boundaries, as Capitol Reef National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, both in Utah, are among other sites administered by the National Park Service that allow it.

But area scientist Corey Goodman says ranchers are being squeezed out of national parks. He has written about similarities between the agreements at Point Reyes and at Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park, where a family sold its land to the Park Service under an agreement that allowed them to continue ranching for up to 25 years. The family, pressured by environmentalists and tighter regulations, vacated its farming operation before obligated when a lawsuit claiming the ranch violated environmental restrictions was settled.

Mr. Lane, of the Public Lands Council, said ranchers at Point Reyes “are some of the most environmentally sensitive stewards of resources that I’ve ever come across. For them to become a target of this is doubly frustrating.”

Not The First Debate

Grazing cattle on public lands has made national headlines in the past few years, highlighted by the recent arrests of more than a dozen protesters, most prominently members of the Bundy family, for actions in Oregon and Utah. But at Point Reyes, a different type of farming set off a debate that helped lead to last month’s lawsuit.

When Drakes Bay Oyster Company took control of an oyster farm at Drakes Estero in 2005, owner Kevin Lunny was optimistic he could obtain a new lease. However, Ken Salazar, the Interior Secretary at the time, declined to renew the lease when it expired in 2012, saying the estero was marked for protection by the 1976 Point Reyes National Seashore Wilderness Act. The commercial operation was seen as being incompatible with such a designation. After Secretary Salazar’s decision, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis designated Drakes Estero as part of the Phillip Burton Wilderness Area. The oyster company sued, and the case was appealed for two years all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to review the case. Drakes Bay Oyster Company closed at the end of 2014, which ended a decades-long history of commercial shellfishing at the Seashore.

In some areas of the pastoral zone, trodding cattle have eroded away the grass/Karen Klitz

That dispute prompted Secretary Salazar to direct the Park Service to work on extending leases “from 10 to 20 years to provide greater certainty and clarity for the ranches operating within the national park’s Pastoral Zone and to support the continued presence of sustainable ranching and dairy operations,” according to a release from 2012. Then, in a memo dated Jan. 31, 2013, Director Jarvis delegated authority to issue leases and permits of up to 20 years, saying the directive is “supportive of multi-generational ranching and dairying within the Pastoral Zone and is consistent with the … provisions of the park’s enabling legislation.

Neal Desai, director of Pacific Region Field Operations for the National Parks Conservation Association, said both ranching in the park and the RCMP process should continue.

“National Parks Conservation Association supports Secretary Salazar’s multi-part decision at Point Reyes National Seashore that protected Drakes Estero marine wilderness and directed the Park Service to pursue 20-year lease terms for Seashore ranchers,” Mr. Desai said. “We believe that the development of the Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan is an appropriate approach to ensure improved protections for all Seashore values, including recreation, public access, natural resources and wildlife. The plan will help ensure that ranching operations standardize best management practices in support of the Seashore’s diverse values.”

That opinion is shared by local conservations groups.

“The public and NPS made the deal to create the Seashore out of private ranch lands, and that deal has to be kept, just as the wilderness deal had to be kept,” Mr. Bennett said.

Tule Elk Highlight Tensions

Although some environmental groups have spoken up in support of ranching and dairying, both sides have concerns.

Conservationists say cattle grazing can degrade grassland and meadow habitats and contribute to degraded water quality through manure and waste runoff. Public comments noted unpleasant odors and sights associated with cattle waste.

“The Sierra Club does not oppose the extension of the ranch leases but does oppose any ranching practices that adversely affect the natural resources of the park,” said Alan Carlton, chair of the Federal Parks Committee of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club. He added that the group does not have a position on the lawsuit.

Ranchers say best management practices, existing leases and assurances to Seashore ranchers, and the original intent of Congress have been ignored in the face of outside political pressure. Short-term lease renewals hinder their ability to qualify for loans and matching grants, and decrease incentive to invest in improvements.

“This is a kind of Frankenstein of the Park Service’s own creation,” Mr. Lane said, “and I don’t think they know where to go from here.”

While cattle grazing is one issue at Point Reyes National Seashore, there also have been charges that the National Park Service has not properly managed the Tule elk on the seashore/NPS

But probably the biggest point of contention is Tule elk, which were reestablished at the Seashore beginning in 1978. Just as environmentalists argue that the impacts of the cattle and dairy operations hasn’t been studied, ranchers say elk have been allowed to roam freely in the Pastoral Zone, which was not intended, and little has been done to remove them. The elk destroy fencing, can spread disease, interfere with operations and graze on grasslands leased to ranchers.

“Point Reyes is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been, and it’s not just from a natural perspective,” Mr. Lane said. “It is that balance, that totally unique environment and snapshot of history. It’s a healthy ecosystem. To arbitrarily release a new element into that is irresponsible.”

Once abundant in California, Tule elk populations dwindled in the 1800s, primarily due to overhunting and displacement by cattle. Thought to be extinct, around 30 animals were discovered in 1874, and efforts were made to save the species. State and federal legislation led to 10 animals being reintroduced at a 2,600-acre fenced enclosure on Tomales Point in 1978 in an attempt to restore natural systems historically found at Point Reyes. The fence was introduced to keep the elk separate from the cattle. After a period of slow growth, the population exploded to more than 500 in the 1990s, and ranchers pointed to studies that that number far exceeded optimal carrying capacity.

The park explored options for controlling the elk population. In 1998, 28 animals taken from Tomales Point were released in the wilderness area south of Limantour Beach, across Drakes Estero from the Pastoral Zone.

But starting in 2000, some of the elk were spotted at Drakes Beach in the Pastoral Zone. These free-roaming elk were not covered under the 1998 Elk Management Plan, and ranchers say the Park Service chose not to deal with the incursion. In population numbers for 2014, an RCMP update noted 92 Tule elk at “D Ranch.” Last year, the park moved three elk from D Ranch to Limantour, and two returned to D Ranch within 11 days.

Between 2012 and 2014, more than 250 Tule elk living in the fenced preserve on Tomales Point died, which the park attributed to drought conditions in California. Last month, five free-roaming tule elk at the Seashore tested positive for Johne’s disease, which can lead to rapid weight loss and diarrhea. The elk were part of the Drake’s Bay herd, which shares pasture with cattle. The disease occurs most frequently in domestic livestock herds.

“Although present park management inherited the problem, it is a huge problem and it has no easy solution,” said Mr. McClure, whose land at the northern end of the peninsula has not yet been impacted by the elk, though he expects it will without management. “In my opinion, it is the biggest problem of the ranches in the park today.”

Opportunities For Improvement

Mr. McClure, whose McClure Dairy milks about 500 cows on 1,200 acres, said the 20-year leases would give ranches security and incentive to invest back into the property. He noted the Seashore was helpful when he wanted to build new barns that solved his ranch’s impacts from runoff on water quality in Abbotts Lagoon.

This cooperation among ranchers, the Park Service, and environmental groups has “opened my eyes on how to lessen some impacts that agriculture can have on our natural resources and come up with best management practices to continue ranching on the Point.”

The rancher said the relationship has worked well for 45 years, and the in-progress Ranch Comprehensive Management Plan will bring an improved ecosystem.

“Lawsuits should be a last resort,” he said. “We should be able to cooperatively work together to solve issues without involving the courts.”

The lawsuit takes issue with the park moving forward with the RCMP, which primarily focuses on the long-term needs of ranchers, and not a General Management Plan for all public uses at the Seashore.

“The Park Service needs to take a step back and look at the impacts of commercial ranching on the park overall,” Huey D. Johnson, president of Resource Renewal Institute and former California Secretary of Resources, said in a release announcing the lawsuit.

Although Mr. Bennett, of Save Our Seashore, supports granting the ranchers new leases, he sees multiple items – wildlife-friendly fencing, sizing and maintaining of manure ponds, overgrazing – to be addressed by the RCMP. These issues and more, such as recreational opportunities, habitat enhancement and historic structures, are being considered as part of the process.

“There can and should be a renaissance of sustainable agriculture in Point Reyes that can be a model nationwide,” he said.

Traveler footnote: To read a column that argues for removal of cattle ranches at Point Reyes, click here.

01-24-15 ProPublica: Bad science from the Park Service

Kevin Lunny has owned and operated the Drakes Bay Oyster Company in a Pacific inlet north of San Francisco since 2005. This winter, an 80-year tradition of shellfish farming in the estuary came to an end when the National Park Service shut Drakes Bay down, claiming the company was a “heavy industry that imperiled the park’s wildlife.” While some environmentalists say “good government prevailed,” an investigation by Newsweek found that the science-as-evidence used to close down Lunny’s farm was either altered or bad. Newseek via @CivilEats

Bad Science, Crazy Mining Laws, and Childcare Horror Stories, #MuckReads: A weekly roundup of investigative reporting from ProPublica, “an ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism”

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/propublica/2015/01/propublica_muckreads_the_week_in_investigative_reporting.html 

1-23-15 U.S. Department of the Interior And Environmental Lobbyists Conspire To Suppress Science

“Salazar instead ignored science completely and manipulated reports and definitions to suit an environmental agenda.”

U.S. Department of the Interior And Environmental Lobbyists Conspire To Suppress Science
By Hank Campbell | January 23rd 2015 11:44 AM

Though we once got a promise to restore science to its rightful place, instead it looks more and more of the same anti-science mentality we got from President Clinton in the 1990s: Catering to environmental fringe groups – even going to far as declaring a small oyster farm “heavy industry” in order to shut them down.Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, as staunch a liberal as we can get, tried to take a stand for science and small business but was unable to prevent the Department of the Interior from “using scientifically unsound, and at times bizarre, tactics to prove the oyster farm had to go.”Feinstein pulled no punches in her assessment. “The Park Service has falsified and misrepresented data, hidden science and even promoted employees who knew about the falsehoods, all in an effort to advance a predetermined outcome against the oyster farm,” she wrote to then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in March 2012. “It is my belief that the case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company is deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”That is a Cabinet post. It is impossible that the president was not aware of it, especially after Senator Feinstein leveled that charge.

Salazar instead ignored science completely and manipulated reports and definitions to suit an environmental agenda. To add an outside voice, Feinstein asked for a National Academy of Sciences report and they concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information” and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.”

An internal Interior Department investigation also found that Park Service scientists had “intentionally omitted the photographic research, in an effort to manipulate the outcome of [the NAS] report,” and were “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.”

Yet that was dismissed as “administrative” misconduct. Three of the Park Service employees that engaged in the fraud even got promoted.

What happened to the scientific results? The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hand-edited the reports to be completely different in their conclusion. We may never know what the science community would do if a Republican administration did that.

Wait, we do know. In 2004, the left-wing environmental advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists put out a petition demanding that science not be manipulated when the Bush administration did something far less egregious.

They called it “the Bush administration’s unprecedented censorship, manipulation, and misrepresentation” when they were trying to get Democratic Senator John Kerry elected to replace Bush but about this insult to scientific integrity they have not had a single complaint.

Nor have they complained any other time. It isn’t the first time the Obama administration has ignored science – with Keystone XL he keeps telling government scientists to do more studies until they create one that agrees with his personal belief (but promising to fast-track an extension over tribal burial grounds) and on Yucca Mountain he has even defied a federal court order to make a decision regarding the application. What has he done with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in response? He placed an anti-Yucca Mountain activist with no knowledge of nuclear energy in charge of it and one of the staffers is…the former head of Union of Concerned Scientists.

So it is understandable why Union of Concerned Scientists is not critical of the Obama administration. They are all hoping to get jobs working for him too. Left-wing sites like Huffington Post have been critical, though.

The BP oil spill report that was edited by the Obama administration got howls from the scientists who wrote it but from the broad science community there has been no outrage. There should have been, and should be, if science media wants to be regarded as trusted guides for the public on complex issues.

On the positive side, it is nice to know that the President doesn’t just ignore Republicans in Congress, he is equally opportunity dismissive of female Democrats in the Senate.

The Oyster Shell Game By Michael Ames, Newsweek. H/T Real Clear Science

 

for the original article, go to:

http://www.science20.com/cool-links/us_department_of_the_interior_and_environmental_lobbyists_conspire_to_suppress_science-152426

01-22-15 Pt Reyes Light: Seal Expert Says Federal Agency Ignored His Findings, by Samantha Kimmey

 “A scientist told a national magazine that a federal agency changed his analysis of photographs of Drakes Estero to justify a claim of environmental harm against Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which ceased operations last month….

In a Newsweek story published online last Sunday, Mr. Stewart said, “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values.” He added, “In science, you shouldn’t do that.” 

 
Seal expert says agency ignored his findings
By Samantha Kimmey
01/22/2015
A scientist told a national magazine that a federal agency changed his analysis of photographs of Drakes Estero to justify a claim of environmental harm against Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which ceased operations last month. 
Brent Stewart, who has been a senior research scientist at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute for decades, analyzed a selection of time-lapse photographs taken by a Point Reyes National Seashore camera for a 2012 United States Geological Survey report on harbor seals, a report later cited in the environmental impact statement on the oyster farm. 
He found no correlation with oyster boats, but the report said otherwise. 
In a Newsweek story published online last Sunday, Mr. Stewart said, “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values.” He added, “In science, you shouldn’t do that.” 
In response to a query from the Light, Mr. Stewart emailed that he was traveling and could not answer questions by press time. Allegations that oyster boats disturbed harbor seals—federally protected under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act—were for years made by the National Park Service and environmentalists championing the Drakes Bay’s removal. Others vociferously refuted those claims. After the park service was found to be in possession of hundreds of thousands of time-stamped photographs and then criticized for not taking advantage of them to assess the potential impacts of the farm, the park service asked the geological survey to undertake a report. 
The final version of the environmental impact statement on the farm, published in late 2012, cited that report, saying its analysis “attributed” two disturbance events to farm boats.
Mr. Stewart’s public allegations come two months after the geological survey dismissed a 2013 scientific misconduct complaint over the representation of Dr. Stewart’s study. The complaint was the seventh filed by Corey Goodman, a scientist and Marshall resident who became an outspoken critic of science produced and used by the park to oust the oyster company. 
A U.S.G.S. spokeswoman, Anne-Berry Wade, said the lead author of the agency’s seal report, William Lellis, could not speak to the press because of ongoing litigation over the complaint. 
An earlier allegation of scientific misconduct over the suppression the photographs was investigated by Gavin Frost, a solicitor for the Department of the
Interior. 
In his 2011 report, Mr. Frost described what he called “administrative misconduct.” Seashore scientists didn’t meet the bar of scientific misconduct, he wrote, because they did not fabricate or misrepresent data with the intent to deceive; however, they might have violated the park service’s scientific research policy and they “blurred the line between exploration and advocacy through research,” he said. Seashore scientists also erroneously believed that, because the camera project followed no stringent protocols, the photos were not actually research or data, Mr. Frost wrote. 
Because the park service didn’t undertake a thorough assessment of the images, the report said “potentially powerful evidence remains unknown.” 
Seal controversy
Drakes Bay Oyster Company was first accused of threatening harbor seal populations in 2007. Assertions that the farm had spurred an 80 percent decrease in seals in one area was removed from a park service report and later publicly retracted by the report’s author, but continued controversy over the impact of the farm’s two small boats led the National Academy of Sciences to examine the existing body of research on the impacts and the Marine Mammal Commission to consider the impacts to seals specifically. 
The academy’s 2009 report said that there was a “lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drakes Estero.” But it also said that independently verifiable data, “such as time and date stamped photographs,” could help determine whether boat activity affected the seals. 
The committee was not aware that such photographs existed.
In 2010, Mr. Goodman discovered—in a footnote of a park service document meant to rebut Mr. Goodman’s claims about other disturbance events—that that the park service had a cache of hundreds of thousands of photographs taken between 2007 and 2010 from wildlife cameras placed on the bluffs overlooking Drakes Estero. 
Park scientists denied that the camera’s existence was intentionally withheld, but they did not mention it during the Marine Mammal Commission meetings in early 2010 when a panel member noted how useful one might be. Sarah Allen, the scientist in charge of the camera project, denied hearing the suggestion, according to Mr. Frost.
The commission’s report said that the photos, in combination with a separate video made by a park volunteer, provided “convincing evidence” of one instance of oyster boat disturbance, on May 15, 2008, but that all the photos should be examined more closely. Park data that was used to establish a correlative relationship between seal populations and oyster harvests was “scant and stretched to its limit,” the report said.
A draft of the environmental impact statement on the oyster farm, released in 2011, was criticized for not taking advantage of the photos. 
In response to that critique and the commission’s suggestion, the National Park Service enlisted the geological survey to assess the pictures. 
Mr. Lellis, the deputy associate director of the survey’s ecosystems research department, said in a 2012 email to a colleague that the report was critically
important. 
“The NPS needs this analysis done by the end of March to brief Secretary Salazar who needs to make a decision on the Wilderness Status for the park…This is a high profile project. Very high profile, so we need to put our best people on it,” Mr. Lellis wrote to a colleague. 
Citing the volume of photos, their mediocre quality and the difficulty of evaluating individual photos for meaningful data, the geological survey created 191 time-lapse videos from over 3,000
photographs. 
The U.S.G.S. hired Mr. Stewart to assess a selection of these videos in which it thought there might be human-caused disturbances; Mr. Stewart was told to classify each video based on whether he found a disturbance and whether he could identify causation or just correlation.
The geological survey’s final report said that photos taken on two separate days—May 15 and June 11, 2008—showed flushing events correlated with boats. “[B]oat traffic at nearby sandbars… could be directly connected, or at least associated with a flushing level of disturbance,” it asserted. (Of the 10 total disturbances the report documented, it said two came from kayakers, two from birds and four from unknown sources.)
But in data and a two-page report Mr. Stewart submitted, boats were not responsible for disturbing the seals. In the video sequences he analyzed, he said he found seven disturbance events—meaning that he could see seals flushing—potentially related to human presence. In one, he writes that the seals seem to clearly flush because of a nearby kayak. But he couldn’t link the presence of oyster skiffs to the three other events when boats were present in the frames. (For the other three videos, he could find no apparent human cause.)
The U.S.G.S. later asked Mr. Stewart to take another look at videos from two days: May 15 and June 11, the dates of the two incidents cited in the final U.S.G.S. report.
Mr. Stewart again said there was no correlation between seal movements and the appearance of a boat. He wrote that on May 15, a boat appeared in the frame at 1:55 p.m. and left nine minutes later. A small number seals then flushed into the water and some others moved toward the water, but he wrote there was no obvious stimulus. The June 11 photographs showed a “minor startle” of seals about 10 minutes after a boat leaves the area, but he didn’t believe they had been flushed.Mr. Stewart told Newsweek that he asked the geological survey if he could fix the report after it was published. He was told that it was too late, a response Mr. Stewart described as “shocking.”
This November, well over a year after Mr. Goodman filed his last complaint, the U.S.G.S. closed the case, finding no misconduct. On a website detailing closed scientific complaint cases, the agency asserted that its report “made no claim” correlating disturbances of harbor seals with boat activity from the oyster farm. The rebuttal also cites sections of the final report that discuss the difficulty and limitations of analyzing the photographs. 
But the report itself said “two [flushing events] were associated with boat activity”—a finding the park service turned into “Two flushing disturbance events were attributed to boat traffic at nearby sand bars” in the oyster farm’s 2012 impact statement. 
The park service ultimately concluded that continued operations would lead to long-term moderate adverse impacts to harbor seals. The environmental impact statement also cites other reports in the section on harbor seals—including the one by park service scientists correlating oyster harvest with harbor seal populations, and the Marine Mammal Commission report, both heavily criticized.
When then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar decided to close the farm, he acknowledged that the park, advocates of wilderness and farm supporters had vigorously debated the science around the farm. He said he based his decision on law and policy, not environmental impacts. Yet although they were “not material to the legal and policy factors that provide the central basis for my decision, they have informed me with respect to the complexities, subtleties and uncertainties of this matter and have been helpful to me in making my decision.”
Melanie Gunn, the outreach coordinator for the seashore, echoed that sentiment this week. “There may always be debate about the science of Drakes Estero, which I am sure you have heard from all sides, but ultimately, the Secretary of the Interior made his decision based on law and policy, a decision that has been upheld in federal court. This has been a challenging issue for the park [and] community. We are pleased to have reached a joint settlement agreement with Drakes Bay Oyster Company that allows all parties to move forward,” she wrote to the Light.
The oyster farm closed its cannery last summer, and December saw that last harvest. Within days the buildings were torn down, and the park service is working to remove remaining shellfish because the state health department is no longer testing them. 
But Mr. Goodman says what happened between Mr. Stewart’s report and the farm’s impact statement still matters. “As scientists, we believe that when the government publishes a report…it should be accurate and should have integrity,” he said.
 

01-20-15 Marin IJ: Oyster farm’s demise sets stage for next park battle, by Dick Spotswood

“Just 20 days after the Lunny family operation closed on New Year’s Eve, the farm and all of its facilities are gone. Not just closed, but almost any evidence that it ever existed has disappeared.

When senior bureaucrats have a personal stake in doing something, miracles occur. Oddly, the usual cast of activists that habitually demands studies, scoping sessions and public hearings ad nauseum before any action is taken were missing in action.

It’s difficult to conceive that the oyster farm’s speedy demolition was a federal government project.

Perhaps the National Park Service’s whiz kids who masterminded Lunny’s speedy exit next need new tasks. They might aim their previously undisclosed expediting talents on the never-ending Ross Valley flood control plan or restoration of the third traffic lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.”

 
Dick Spotswood: Oyster farm’s demise sets stage for next park battle
Marin Independent Journal
POSTED:   01/20/2015 04:14:30 PM PST
 
Given the glacial progress involved in any government endeavor, it’s startling to see any agency moving at warp speed. That just happened with the Point Reyes National Seashore’s almost instant eradication of the Drakes Bay oyster farm.
Just 20 days after the Lunny family operation closed on New Year’s Eve, the farm and all of its facilities are gone.
Not just closed, but almost any evidence that it ever existed has disappeared.
When senior bureaucrats have a personal stake in doing something, miracles occur. Oddly, the usual cast of activists that habitually demands studies, scoping sessions and public hearings ad nauseum before any action is taken were missing in action.
It’s difficult to conceive that the oyster farm’s speedy demolition was a federal government project.
Perhaps the National Park Service’s whiz kids who masterminded Lunny’s speedy exit next need new tasks. They might aim their previously undisclosed expediting talents on the never-ending Ross Valley flood control plan or restoration of the third traffic lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
It appears the motivation behind the frenetic effort to demo the oyster harvesting sheds was to remove even the slightest possibility that some action could halt the yearslong effort to convert Drakes Estero into a wilderness area. The park’s hierarchy was never the honest broker in the oyster battles. In part, that’s due to a long-standing park service culture that regards “inholdings,” any non-public use of park lands, as inimical to the agency’s mission.
The Great Marin Oyster War is over. The Lunny family has left the estero, remaining fresh oysters are destroyed, their mostly Hispanic workers dispersed and the site cleared.
Now longtime Point Reyes peninsula residents await the next big threat to their existence.
The soon-to-be-released National Seashore Ranch Comprehensive Plan will determine the fate of two dozen or so ranches and 26,000 acres of pastoral land long used for grazing. To most Marinites they represent the heart of sustainable agriculture in West Marin. To others, who would expand the wilderness zone, they are intrusive “inholdings.”
Even the coterie of environmental activists that pine for the ranches’ demise don’t envision that the plan’s environmental assessment will literally call for their closure.
That would be political suicide, even in dark-green liberal Marin.
The agriculture community’s concern is that some seemingly innocuous policy will be inserted in the plan as a poison pill that indirectly causes the ranches to become economically untenable. The likeliest point of conflict will involve the interface between cattle and tule elk that the park service encourages to proliferate on Point Reyes.

01-18-15 NEWSWEEK, Tech & Science: The Oyster Shell Game – “YOU’VE BEEN SHUCKED”, by Michael Ames,

Newsweek TECH & SCIENCE

The Oyster Shell Game

BY MICHAEL AMES / JANUARY 18, 2015 11:49 AM EST

Some SIGNIFICANT EXCERPTS from the article (with emphasis added)

The idea that Lunny’s farm was a heavy industry that imperiled the park’s wildlife was, for a while at least, the core reason for evicting him. But for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the only agency with the power to enforce full wilderness protection, there was one problem with this argument: PROVING IT!!! 

After Lunny accepted some legal aid from a libertarian group in Washington, D.C., the rhetoric from environmentalists turned apocalyptic. Amid howls of Koch brothers lurking and baby seals dying, the oyster farm’s request for a 10-year lease extension was described as “a precedent-setting land-grab effort” and a step toward privatizing the entire National Park System. In the face of this escalation, Feinstein’s coalition drew in Republican congressmen, former California lawmakers and dissenting Bay Area progressives, including the chef Alice Waters and the writer Michael Pollan.

“I firmly believe that renewal of the permit is the only way for the Park Service to send an unmistakable signal that the [Obama] administration’s commitment to scientific integrity is real,” Feinstein told Salazar.

Findings Altered

“I’m not interested in being a whistle-blower,” Brent Stewart said. But documents he recently shared with Newsweek reveal how a federal science agency ignored norms of academic research in an apparent effort to justify policy and shut down a private business.

Stewart is a marine biologist and seal behavior expert with the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego. In May 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recruited him to evaluate photos taken by “remotely operated wildlife monitoring cameras” that a Park Service scientist had secretly installed around the estero in May 2007, and that over the years became the focal point of the controversy.

When the conflict between the Park Service and the Lunny family first erupted in 2007, the Marin County Board of Supervisors reached out to two people: Feinstein and Corey Goodman, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member and a former University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford biology professor who lives near Point Reyes. They discovered a Park Service outpost whose scientists had published dubious environmental reports that, for example, erroneously attributed one seal colony’s 80 percent decline to the oyster farm. The disappearing seals, Goodman later learned, had merely relocated closer to the farm.

Feinstein called on the NAS to conduct an external review of the Park Service’s environmental studies. The resulting report concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information” and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.”

Throughout the battle, environmental groups had labeled the farm, as one brochure put it, “an ecological disaster.” But after THE NAS REPORT DIFFUSED THE URGENCY over issues like eelgrass (coverage had actually doubled from 1991 to 2007), fish (healthy) and invasive tunicates (problematic, but also epidemic worldwide), attention once again turned to the estero’s marquee wildlife: those seals.   

…the NAS called for more and better research on them in Drakes Estero and SPECIFICALLY SUGGESTED  “a data collection system that could be independently verified, such as TIME- AND DATE-STAMPED PHOTOGRAPHS.” What the NAS did not know, because Park Service scientists had not told it, was that such a trove of evidence ALREADY EXISTED—roughly 250,000 archived photographs, snapped once a minute by an automatic Reconyx Silent Image game camera, every day from sunup to sundown during the seals’ spring pupping season, FOR MORE THAN THREE YEARS. The photos documented oyster boats passing the seals at a distance of about 700 yards, or a little under a half-mile, with a large noise-buffering sandbar between them AND NO CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT EITHER MAN OR BEAST HAD EVER NOTICED THE OTHER.  

When Feinstein learned that the Park Service had concealed these photos, she went into full boil. Park Service scientists, she said, “acted as if they were advocates with no responsibility to fairly evaluate the scientific data.” She told Salazar the integrity of his agency was on the line. 

Goodman filed a formal scientific-misconduct complaint, which in turn triggered an internal investigation by a DOI field solicitor named Gavin Frost, who was no more charitable in his assessment. Park Service scientists, Frost wrote, had “intentionally omitted the photographic research, in an effort to manipulate the outcome of [the NAS] report,” and were “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.” Frost’s report ultimately charged Park Service employees with the lesser crimes of “scholarly” and “administrative” misconduct and let them carry on with their seal studies undeterred.

In 2012, with the end of the farm’s lease approaching, the DOI ordered the USGS to complete a definitive study of the seal photographs. Stewart, … was called in … to determine whether the photos were sufficient for scientific research and whether, … Lunny’s boats had disturbed the creatures.  

…Stewart … reports, determined there were no disturbances attributable to the oyster farm’s boats. …But when the USGS published its final report that November, Stewart discovered that his findings had been altered and that the study reached conclusions his research directly contradicted. “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values,” says Stewart. “In science, you shouldn’t do that.”

….the USGS went back to Stewart months later and asked him to double-check his work ON TWO DATES IN PARTICULAR. He did as requested and reiterated his findings, but even this did not alter the final report’s inaccuracies. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Park Service took this alteration one step further by implying causation between the boats and the seals, something Stewart had explicitly ruled out. Eventually, this Impact Statement would beused by Department of Justice lawyers in their arguments against Lunny before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stewart told his contacts at the USGS that their report had errors and asked if he could correct them. “The response I got was, ‘No, it’s done. It can’t be changed.’ That was a bit shocking.”

This wasn’t the first time a DOI agency was caught making fraudulent claims. Two years ago, Feinstein and Goodman uncovered an attempt to by the Park Service to use sound measurements from a 1995 study on New Jersey jet skis in order to show that Lunny’s boats were distressing the seals. “I am frankly stunned,” by the patterns of abuse, Feinstein wrote in her final letter on the matter to Salazar.

Goodman, a professor who peppers his conversations with sayings like “facts are our friends,” emerged as a fierce advocate for the farm and against what he sees as the misuse of science. In May 2013, he filed another scientific misconduct complaint against the USGS where he reiterated  how the agency had twisted Stewart’s facts. “[It] is so absurd,” he told Newsweek, “you could show it to grammar school students and they would immediately understand it was ridiculous.”

This past November, the USGS dismissed Goodman’s 160-page complaint with a one-page letter. The agency’s Scientific Integrity Office did not address the specifics of Goodman’s report in either their letter or in a brief overview published on the DOI website. In the latter, the USGS stated that “no evidence was provided by the complainant, nor found during the inquiry of any significant departure from accepted practices…nor was there any evidence of intent to deceive or misrepresent work.” WHEN PRESSED FOR EXPLANATION OF THEIR DECISION, THE USGS DID NOT RESPOND.

Since 2007, three Park Service employees that Frost charged with scholarly or administrative misconduct have been promoted within the agency. The USGS and DOI declined to comment on this story. U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, whose 2nd congressional district includes Point Reyes (and whose office has had copies of Stewart’s reports since May 2013), also declined comment on this story, as did Marcia McNutt, who served as USGS director from 2009 to 2013 and is now editor-in-chief of the journal Science. NONE OF STEWART’S CO-AUTHORS ON THE 23012 USGS REPORT RESPONDED TO REQUESTS FOR COMMENT.

An ‘All or Nothing’ Ethic

“There are deep roots to the hostility of environmentalism toward agriculture,” Michael Pollan wrote to Feinstein in 2012. “An ‘all or nothing’ ethic that pits man against nature, wilderness against agriculture, may be useful in some places, under some circumstances, but surely not in this place at this time.” Lunny’s oyster farm, he wrote, “stands as a model for how we might heal these divisions.”

You’ve Been Shucked

Goodman hasn’t given up the fight for good science, but he is discouraged by the politics. “The environmental movement has lost its way,” he said. “And I say that as an environmentalist and a lifelong Democrat.” 

 

Two weeks before Christmas, in a serene Pacific inlet north of San Francisco, a small mountain of fresh oysters sat rotting in the rain. Kevin Lunny, the owner of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, watched a yellow mini-dozer chug back from the waterfront, tip its shovel and, in a great clattering of shells, dump hundreds more onto the heap.

After seven years of political and legal battles that have grown into one of the ugliest environmental fights in the country, this was the end of the line for Lunny’s oyster farm. “It’s been a terrible time,” said Lunny, who still lives on the nearby cattle ranch where he grew up and where his grandfather started a dairy farm in 1947. The forced closure of the oyster company marks the end, after almost 80 years, of modern shellfish farming in Drakes Estero, the tidal estuary that lies at the center of the dispute.

In 1935, an oyster farm was established in the estuary’s innermost harbor, run for a few decades by a rotating crop of shellfish farmers, and from 1961 on it was called the Johnson Oyster Company. The estero was a generous sea garden, eventually becoming a source of about 500,000 pounds of oyster meat a year, all grown with nothing more than seawater and sunshine. “It was a resource for a lot of people,” Lunny said.

But Drakes Estero is also an environmental sanctuary. It’s home to one of the state’s largest harbor seal colonies and significant numbers of shorebirds, and is prized by naturalists as the ecological heart of the Point Reyes National Seashore, public land managed by the National Park Service. In November 1972, the Johnson family sold their five acres of shoreline to the federal government for $79,200 and signed a 40-year lease that permitted a narrow range of business options, such as “the interpretation of oyster cultivation to the visiting public,” and was renewable as long as any future permit was “in accordance with National Park Service Regulations in effect at the time the reservation expires.” In 2005, Johnson sold that permit to Lunny, who cleaned up and rebranded the old farm and dubbed it the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

Shutting down the farm this winter was a harsh blow for Lunny and his employees, some of whom worked here for over 25 years, but a critical victory for environmental lobbying groups. For the past few years, advocacy organizations coordinated by two leads, the local Environmental Action Committee of West Marin (EAC) and the National Parks Conservation Association, fought to have the estuary converted to “full wilderness,” a sacrosanct designation that prohibits oystering, along with any other mechanized or motorized interference with the subtler designs of nature.

“At last, we get to restore Drakes Estero to its native splendor,” wrote Amy Trainer, executive director of the EAC, in a late-December column. “The harbor seals that come to Drakes Estero to give birth and raise their young will finally be free from disturbance.”

The idea that Lunny’s farm was a heavy industry that imperiled the park’s wildlife was, for a while at least, the core reason for evicting him. But for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the only agency with the power to enforce full wilderness protection, there was one problem with this argument: proving it.

To the bewilderment and eventual outrage of Lunny’s advocates in California and Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein chief among them—the DOI and its National Park Service spent much of the past decade using scientifically unsound, and at times bizarre, tactics to prove the oyster farm had to go. “The Park Service has falsified and misrepresented data, hidden science and even promoted employees who knew about the falsehoods, all in an effort to advance a predetermined outcome against the oyster farm,” Feinstein wrote to then-secretary of the interior Ken Salazar in March 2012. “It is my belief that the case against Drakes Bay Oyster Company is deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”

After Lunny accepted some legal aid from a libertarian group in Washington, D.C., the rhetoric from environmentalists turned apocalyptic. Amid howls of Koch brothers lurking and baby seals dying, the oyster farm’s request for a 10-year lease extension was described as “a precedent-setting land-grab effort” and a step toward privatizing the entire National Park System. In the face of this escalation, Feinstein’s coalition drew in Republican congressmen, former California lawmakers and dissenting Bay Area progressives, including the chef Alice Waters and the writer Michael Pollan.

“I firmly believe that renewal of the permit is the only way for the Park Service to send an unmistakable signal that the [Obama] administration’s commitment to scientific integrity is real,” Feinstein told Salazar.

In November 2012, Salazar ruled against the farm, citing simple reasons: The lease was up; he had no obligation to renew it; and, he argued, the farm violated park policies for commercial activities within the National Park System.

 

Findings Altered

“I’m not interested in being a whistle-blower,” Brent Stewart said. But documents he recently shared with Newsweek reveal how a federal science agency ignored norms of academic research in an apparent effort to justify policy and shut down a private business.

Stewart is a marine biologist and seal behavior expert with the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego. In May 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recruited him to evaluate photos taken by “remotely operated wildlife monitoring cameras” that a Park Service scientist had secretly installed around the estero in May 2007, and that over the years became the focal point of the controversy.

When the conflict between the Park Service and the Lunny family first erupted in 2007, the Marin County Board of Supervisors reached out to two people: Feinstein and Corey Goodman, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member and a former University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford biology professor who lives near Point Reyes. They discovered a Park Service outpost whose scientists had published dubious environmental reports that, for example, erroneously attributed one seal colony’s 80 percent decline to the oyster farm. The disappearing seals, Goodman later learned, had merely relocated closer to the farm.

Feinstein called on the NAS to conduct an external review of the Park Service’s environmental studies. The resulting report concluded that Park Service scientists, in setting out to prove the farm was causing environmental harm, had “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available scientific information” and “exaggerated the negative and overlooked potentially beneficial effects of the oyster culture operation.”

For example, when they saw seal numbers dropping, scientists made targeted assumptions about the oyster farm that ignored critical variables, such as nosy kayakers and shifting sandbars. Such limited data, the NAS said, “cannot be used to infer cause and effect.” Ultimately, the NAS “conclude[d] that there is a lack of strong scientific evidence that shellfish farming has major adverse ecological effects on Drakes Estero.”

Throughout the battle, environmental groups had labeled the farm, as one brochure put it, “an ecological disaster.” But after the NAS report diffused the urgency over issues like eelgrass (coverage had actually doubled from 1991 to 2007), fish (healthy) and invasive tunicates (problematic, but also epidemic worldwide), attention once again turned to the estero’s marquee wildlife: those seals.

Harbor seals are prevalent along the California coast, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, populations are stabilizing. But with the seals a protected species under the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, the NAS called for more and better research on them in Drakes Estero and specifically suggested “a data collection system that could be independently verified, such as time- and date-stamped photographs.” What the NAS did not know, because Park Service scientists had not told it, was that such a trove of evidence already existed—roughly 250,000 archived photographs, snapped once a minute by an automatic Reconyx Silent Image game camera, every day from sunup to sundown during the seals’ spring pupping season, for more than three years. The photos documented oyster boats passing the seals at a distance of about 700 yards, or a little under a half-mile, with a large noise-buffering sandbar between them and no clear evidence that either man or beast had ever noticed the other.

When Feinstein learned that the Park Service had concealed these photos, she went into full boil. Park Service scientists, she said, “acted as if they were advocates with no responsibility to fairly evaluate the scientific data.” She told Salazar the integrity of his agency was on the line. “Whether it was intentional or because of personal bias, these practices must not be tolerated nor allowed to continue,” the senator said.

Goodman filed a formal scientific-misconduct complaint, which in turn triggered an internal investigation by a DOI field solicitor named Gavin Frost, who was no more charitable in his assessment. Park Service scientists, Frost wrote, had “intentionally omitted the photographic research, in an effort to manipulate the outcome of [the NAS] report,” and were “blurring the line between exploration and advocacy.” Frost’s report ultimately charged Park Service employees with the lesser crimes of “scholarly” and “administrative” misconduct and let them carry on with their seal studies undeterred.

In 2012, with the end of the farm’s lease approaching, the DOI ordered the USGS to complete a definitive study of the seal photographs. Stewart, a respected 37-year veteran in the field, was called in as an independent authority to determine whether the photos were sufficient for scientific research and whether, after years of internal recrimination at DOI and the Park Service over the issue,  Lunny’s boats had disturbed the creatures.

On May 3, 2012, Stewart filed his reports, determining there were no disturbances attributable to the oyster farm’s boats. (There was one case, however, where a curious kayaker caused several seals to flush into the water.) But when the USGS published its final report that November, Stewart discovered that his findings had been altered and that the study reached conclusions his research directly contradicted. “It’s clear that what I provided to them and what they produced were different conclusions and different values,” says Stewart. “In science, you shouldn’t do that.”

For example, the USGS had deleted his words “no evidence of disturbance” for one date, and in its analysis stated that two disturbances “were associated with boat activity”—despite Stewart’s study that showed otherwise. Strangely, USGS went back to Stewart months later and asked him to double-check his work on two dates in particular. He did as requested and reiterated his findings, but even this did not alter the final report’s inaccuracies. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Park Service took this alteration one step further by implying causation between the boats and the seals, something Stewart had explicitly ruled out. Eventually, this Impact Statement would beused by Department of Justice lawyers in their arguments against Lunny before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stewart told his contacts at the USGS that their report had errors and asked if he could correct them. “The response I got was, ‘No, it’s done. It can’t be changed.’ That was a bit shocking.”

This wasn’t the first time a DOI agency was caught making fraudulent claims. Two years ago, Feinstein and Goodman uncovered an attempt to by the Park Service to use sound measurements from a 1995 study on New Jersey jet skis in order to show that Lunny’s boats were distressing the seals. “I am frankly stunned,” by the patterns of abuse, Feinstein wrote in her final letter on the matter to Salazar.

Goodman, a professor who peppers his conversations with sayings like “facts are our friends,” emerged as a fierce advocate for the farm and against what he sees as the misuse of science. In May 2013, he filed another scientific misconduct complaint against the USGS where he reiterated  how the agency had twisted Stewart’s facts. “[It] is so absurd,” he told Newsweek, “you could show it to grammar school students and they would immediately understand it was ridiculous.”

This past November, the USGS dismissed Goodman’s 160-page complaint with a one-page letter. The agency’s Scientific Integrity Office did not address the specifics of Goodman’s report in either their letter or in a brief overview published on the DOI website. In the latter, the USGS stated that “no evidence was provided by the complainant, nor found during the inquiry of any significant departure from accepted practices…nor was there any evidence of intent to deceive or misrepresent work.” When pressed for explanation of their decision, the USGS did not respond.

Since 2007, three Park Service employees that Frost charged with scholarly or administrative misconduct have been promoted within the agency. The USGS and DOI declined to comment on this story. U.S. Representative Jared Huffman, whose 2nd congressional district includes Point Reyes (and whose office has had copies of Stewart’s reports since May 2013), also declined comment on this story, as did Marcia McNutt, who served as USGS director from 2009 to 2013 and is now editor-in-chief of the journal Science. None of Stewart’s co-authors on the 2012 USGS report responded to requests for comment.

 

An ‘All or Nothing’ Ethic

Since it was designated as a national seashore by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, Point Reyes has been an ambitious social and environmental experiment. Historic working farms coexist with the park’s protected elk, egrets and elephant seals, and Western ranchers live in close and peaceful proximity to environmentalists. The two communities united in their shared wariness of development and suburbanization, and they collaborated on visionary legislative compromises that made Point Reyes an exceptional preserve close to a major metropolis. But the honeymoon was short-lived.

“There are deep roots to the hostility of environmentalism toward agriculture,” Michael Pollan wrote to Feinstein in 2012. “An ‘all or nothing’ ethic that pits man against nature, wilderness against agriculture, may be useful in some places, under some circumstances, but surely not in this place at this time.” Lunny’s oyster farm, he wrote, “stands as a model for how we might heal these divisions.”

In Northern California, where local food borders on an obsession for many, the agricultural community supported the farm, in both spirit and in court. Alice Waters filed a joint brief in the farm’s defense with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, joining the California Farm Bureau, Food Democracy Now and several restaurateurs and retailers. Along the winding roads that carry weekenders north from the city to graze on grass-fed burgers and aged goat gouda, dozens of hand-painted signs went up on barns, gas stations and storefront windows, pleading, “Save Our Drakes Bay Oysters.”

But to wilderness advocates, the state’s only oyster cannery, with its salt-crusted boats and front-end loaders and plastic oyster bags, was a dirty business in a sacred place. Jerry Meral, a respected conservationist who served as deputy secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency from 2011 to 2013 and sits on the board of the EAC, which led the fight against the farm, isn’t persuaded by the sustainable seafood argument. “It’s not the only oyster farm,” he told Newsweek. “If there’s a big demand for oysters, it will probably be filled, even if we have to bring them in from China…. I’m not sure you make a decision on the use of a national park on that kind of basis.”

You’ve Been Shucked

The Park Service and wilderness advocates now say that the issue in Drakes Estero was environmental policy, not environmental science. “Science will always be debated, like climate change,” said Melanie Gunn, outreach coordinator for Point Reyes National Seashore. “But the law and policy of the Wilderness Act is very clear,” she said in defense of Salazar’s decision to shut down the farm.

Lunny lost in his circuit court appeal, and this past June, when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, he ran out of legal options.

To Meral and his EAC, the controversy over bad science is overblown. “I think [Lunny] was treated fairly,” he says. The Park Service, he said, “intended to close him down, they did everything they could to close him down, and eventually they did close him down.” Trainer, who heads the West Marin EAC,wrote that “good government prevailed.”

Goodman hasn’t given up the fight for good science, but he is discouraged by the politics. “The environmental movement has lost its way,” he said. “And I say that as an environmentalist and a lifelong Democrat.” After seven years, Lunny is no longer surprised. The changes to Stewart’s science “is not the first fraud,” he said.

Before Christmas at Drakes Estero, as gulls stalked the perimeter of the rising oyster pile and the farm’s workers hauled out about $2.5 million in unsold oysters, Lunny reached into an exposed dirt hillside about 100 feet from the water and pulled out a small, white shell. “This is a confirmed Oly,” he said, using the nickname for the native Olympia oysters that once filled every bay and estuary on the Pacific Coast. The hillside was part of a midden, an ancient shell pile left behind by earlier seafood-eating peoples, in this case California’s indigenous coastal Miwok tribe, and carbon-dated to over 1,000 years old. Behind Lunny, the yellow mini-dozer coughed black smoke into the air, lifted its shovel and dumped more fresh oysters onto the rotting heap.

“This thing,” Lunny said without turning to look, “could drive me crazy if I let it.”

 

The link to the article is:  http://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/30/oyster-shell-game-300225.html

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

Hard-working oyster farm workers lost their jobs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Larry “Cheech” Giambastiani, San Rafael

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

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

By Kevin Lunny

 

Kevin Lunny (Special to the IJ/James Cacciatore)

Kevin Lunny (Special to the IJ/James Cacciatore)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why West Marin finds it difficult to heal

 Lack of respect major factor

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

04-09-2014 NOAA “OYSTERS could REMOVE ALL NITROGEN Polluting Potomac if 40% river bed cultivates shellfish”

Oyster aquaculture could significantly improve Potomac River estuary water quality

April 9, 2014

Oyster aquaculture in the Potomac River estuary could result in significant improvements to water quality, according to a new NOAA and U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Aquatic Geochemistry.

All of the nitrogen currently polluting the Potomac River estuary could be removed if 40 percent of its river bed were used for shellfish cultivation, according to the joint study. The researchers determined that a combination of aquaculture and restored oyster reefs may provide even larger overall ecosystem benefits. Oysters, who feed by filtering, can clean an enormous volume of water of algae which can cause poor water quality.

The study is based on data modeling and an ecosystem-wide scientific evaluation, which examined how activities in the watershed affected the river estuary’s water quality. The research team evaluated nitrogen flows from the Potomac River headwaters and the nutrient-related water quality conditions of the estuary, called eutrophication.

Eutrophication takes place when a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients that stimulate the growth of aquatic plants, causing nuisance algal blooms. These blooms often result in the depletion of dissolved oxygen and the loss of seagrasses.

The team sought to assess how shellfish aquaculture – specifically oyster aquaculture — could be used to remove nutrients directly from the water, complementing traditional land-based measures.

Although the estuary bottom area needed to grow oysters to remove the nutrients exists, it is unlikely that such a management measure would be implemented because of conflicting uses. However, a smaller area could still provide great benefits if aquaculture leases were approved. According to the study, if only 15 to 20 percent of the bottom was cultivated it could remove almost half of the incoming nutrients.

“Our study looked to see just how much impact oyster aquaculture could have in restoring some balance to the system,” said Suzanne Bricker, Ph.D., physical scientist in NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the paper’s lead author. “Eutrophication conditions in the Potomac River estuary are representative of conditions found in the Chesapeake Bay and many other U.S. estuaries. Historically, waters of the Potomac and other Chesapeake region estuaries were filtered by oysters, but as their populations declined so did their filtration capabilities. This resulted in increased concentrations of nutrients and related water quality concerns, such as algal blooms and low dissolved oxygen.

“The most expedient way to reduce eutrophication in the Potomac River estuary would be to continue reducing land-based nutrients complemented by a combination of aquaculture and restored oyster reefs. The resulting combination could provide significant removal of nutrients and eutrophication impacts directly from the water column, and offer innovative solutions to long-term persistent water quality problems.”

This alternative approach to water quality management has the potential to address legacy pollution, provide a marketable seafood product if there are no other contaminant issues that would prevent human consumption, and enhance local economies with additional income to growers through the possible development of a program — similar to those being considered in other parts of the country — where growers would be paid for the water cleaning services done by their oysters.

Flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, the Potomac River is the fourth largest river on the Atlantic coast, with more than six million people living in its watershed. The NOAA and USGS research about human influences on water quality found that the effects of high nutrient levels have not changed overall since the early 1990s. There are, however, some signs of improvement, such as decreased nitrogen loads from the watershed, increased dissolved oxygen and decreased algal blooms in the upper estuary, and continued regrowth of seagrasses.

While scientists have seen signs of improvement, they remain concerned with eutrophication. Dissolved oxygen, a key measure of water quality, is something fish and other aquatic species can’t survive without.

Atmospheric deposition — where gases and particles are released into the atmosphere from combustion of fossil fuels and return to the land as contaminants — also plays a role in polluting the estuary.

“Less attention has been paid to monitoring the effects of atmospheric deposition in headwater streams now that acidic emissions have declined because of the Clean Air Act and Amendments going into effect,” said Karen Rice, Ph.D., USGS research hydrologist. “Nevertheless, monitoring of forested, headwater streams that reflect changes in atmospheric inputs should be continued, if not expanded, so that changes in stream-water quality as related to atmospheric deposition can be tracked.”

The researchers believe the results of the study may be useful on a broad basis, as there are other river-dominated estuaries in the Chesapeake region and elsewhere along the U.S. coastline that could support shellfish aquaculture.

USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit USGS.gov, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels. Subscribe to our news releases via e-mail, RSS or Twitter.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

 

 

For more on this go to:

http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2014/20140409_oysteraquaculture.html

03-31-2014 Calif Coastal Commission says Lunnys have NO RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS

From http://www.SaveDrakesBay.com

Author: Sarah Rolph

 

“…. In a pattern very similar to the false narrative being conducted against the Lunny family by the Park Service, the Coastal Commission has made a cascading, confusing series of claims that play fast and loose with the facts. All indications are that these two agencies are working together against the oyster farm.  They use the same false claims, and neither will acknowledge the expert declarations that counter their anti-oyster farm assertions.

The Commission continues to claim in public that the oyster farm’s operations disturb seals.  If you read the fine print you’ll learn that the actual language is that oyster farm operations have “the potential to disturb harbor seals.” This is the same formulation used by the Park Service in its discredited Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).

The much-vaunted “potential to disturb” seals is a shadow of the Park Service’s original claim that oyster operations were actually harming the seals, a notion that should have been dispelled once and for all by the recent seal-count data compiled by the Park Service showing that the harbor seal population in Drakes Estero is healthier than ever.

In a study commissioned by the Marine Mammal Commission in November 2011, marine mammal experts made it clear that there is no reason to be concerned about the seals in Drakes Estero.

Nevertheless the Park Service worked to keep the seal story alive, first by planting secret cameras that they hoped would catch oyster boats disturbing seals, then when those photos didn’t turn up any such evidence, by commissioning a report from the USGS that they apparently hoped would find evidence where there was none, and then finally in desperation changing the USGS report’s findings from “no evidence of disturbance” to evidence of “adverse impacts.” That falsification is the only support in the FEIS for the untrue charge that the oyster farm disturbs seals.

Falsifying a scientific report is of course scientific misconduct, and a formal complaint about this has been filed by Dr. Corey Goodman, as described in this press release and as reported here. It will not be surprising to those who have been following this story that Dr. Goodman’s scientific misconduct complaint is being stonewalled.

The Commission also continues to claim in public that the oyster farm operates its boats too close to seals, in violation of protocols imposed by other agencies.  But as Tom Moore  (a retired official the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who helped draft those protocols) wrote in a strongly worded letter to the Commission, Drakes Bay “has not violated” those protocols.  Even though the oyster farm is not in violation, it reached an agreement with the Commission in early 2012 that completely resolved the issue.  The Commission should not continue making accusations about an issue that’s long been resolved.

The Commission continues to claim in public that the oyster farm pollutes Drakes Estero with plastic.  Not true.  The farm operates under a “zero loss” policy.  It cleans up other people’s debris; it doesn’t discharge any of its own.

The Commission continues to claim in public that the Lunnys are violating the law because they do not have a permit.  But the Commission refuses to process the permit application that has been on file with the Commission since 2006.

The Commission continues to claim in public that it has fined Drakes Bay Oyster Company for improper placement of clams (the oyster farm grows a small number of clams in addition to oysters).  Yet so preposterous was that fine—the misplacement was the result of the Commission misreading the farm’s lease from Fish and Wildlife—that the Commission has quietly amended its complaint to withdraw it.

Neither the Park Service nor the Coastal Commission has any evidence of any of these claims against the oyster farm. When Drakes Bay Oyster Farm presented evidence disproving these claims, the Coastal Commission voted to exclude that evidence.

Now the Commission is arguing that it had the right to do so. It derisively refers to that exculpatory evidence as a “document dump,” and argues that the Lunnys don’t have the right to question the Commission’s orders.

The Commission is wrong.  The Commission does not have the right to railroad a family without due process.

On Tuesday, March 11, oral arguments on this case will be heard in Marin County Superior Court. If the oyster farm’s motion is granted, this will be the first time a Coastal Commission enforcement order has been successfully overturned. Let us hope that justice will be served.

Update:  The March 11 hearing was brief–a new judge has been assigned to the case….”

The judge will provide a tentative ruling on Tuesday, April 15 and will hear arguments from both sides the following morning, April 16, Marin County Superior Court, Department B, 8:30 AM. 

 

For more on this see

http://savedrakesbay.com/core/2014/03/05/coastal-commission-to-lunnys-yes-you-have-no-due-process-rights/

 

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.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-drakes-bay-oyster-farm?show_todos=true

 

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

http://savedrakesbay.com/core/

 

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:

http://drakesbayoyster.com/

 

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

EXCERPTS FROM THE INTRODUCTION as well as from THE CONCLUSION (Emphasis added)

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.

First, THE CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION REFUSED … TO CONSIDER … EXPERT OPINIONS, DECLARATIONS, AND DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE SUBMITTED BY DRAKES BAY

DUE PROCESS REQUIRES AN AGENCY TO CONSIDER EVIDENCE offered in a quasi-judicial hearing

the COMMISSION VOTED TO EXCLUDE THE EVIDENCE FROM THE RECORD.

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


    Second, …THE COMMISSION … DID NOT ALLOW …

CROSS-EXAMINATION OF COMMISSION WITNESSES

…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,

CROSS EXAMINATION WAS ESSENTIAL TO THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH


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

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

THE THREE LAWYERS PROVIDED NO EVIDENCE.

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.

DRAKES BAY … SUBMITTED EXPERT TESTIMONY THAT RELIED ON LOCAL DATA AND STUDIES FROM DRAKES ESTERO. THIS EVIDENCE ESTABLISHED THAT THE OYSTER FARM DOES NO HARM, AND THAT IT PROVIDES AN ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFIT. 

THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY.

…the Commission’s decision should be invalidated.

FROM THE CONCLUSION, PAGE 19, LINES 12-21:

…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

01-29-14 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

12-07-13 PROF JOE FAILS TO STEP UP TO ON AIR DIALOGUE with DR. GOODMAN

CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW

http://sedonadreams.com/?p=1027

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
Leave
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
Leave
From: Joe Mueller <joen8ture@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, December 07, 2013 5:43 pm
To: george@sedonadreams.org

George,

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

TUNE IN TO SEDONA DREAMS TONIGHT AT 9:00 PM

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
Leave
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
Leave
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

George,

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>

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-oyster-company-that-wouldnt-leave/Content?oid=3772631

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

Opinion

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.

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

BELOW IS THE LIST OF 2,287 PEOPLE AND 137 COMPANIES ALREADY ENDORSING DRAKES BAY OYSTER COMPANY AS OF 4:55 PM, JUNE 4, 2013

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.

http://drakesbayoyster.com/

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!

Organizations

Individuals

b kronenberg from CA
Greg Frichtl from IL
Ken Longo from CA
Susan Kilian from CA
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