08/04/2014 Oyster Farming is the “Wilderness”

AN EMAIL FROM A COLLEAGUE IN CONNECTICUT TODAY.

(Click on the link and then click to watch the video):

 

Oyster farming is the “Wilderness”………

Check this out – http://www.rhodyoysters.com/

Went there last weekend – “Farm to Table (his own Oyster Farm and his own Vegetable Farm)”. Now the Number 1 Restaurant in Rhode Island.

Get the message…………………… its sustainability.

Bruce McGown

CEO InterWeave.biz

 

 

 

 

08-02-12 Letter to the Editor of West Marin Citizen by Jeff Creque

West Marin Citizen 08-02-2012

Letter to the Editor

 

Estero ecology

EDITOR:

In his brief piece in favor of elimination

of the DrakesBay Oyster Farm, Russell

Ridge (Citizen, July 26, 2012) nicely

articulates the fundamental misunderstanding

of ecosystem dynamics underlying

his argument.

With all due respect for the linear,

closed system dynamics assumed and espoused

by Mr. Ridge (after all, most of us

who received our early ecological training

in the 60’s and 70’s were taught within

that framework), that view of ecosystem

dynamics is both outdated and, quite

frankly, wrong. Ridge evokes the Second

Law of Thermodynamics to support his

argument that plankton is a limited and

limiting resource within the Estero. But

modern ecosystem theory recognizes that

the Second Law simply does not apply to

open, dynamic systems, of which Drakes

Estero is an archetypical example. Indeed,

open to inputs from both sky and sea, the

Estero, rather than being limited by a

fixed quantity of energy and nutrients, has

essentially an unlimited potential for selforganized

complexity, including enormous

biomass production and

biodiversity potential.

That same misunderstanding of ecosystem

processes underlies the 19th Century

“human-free wilderness” conviction of

our moribund NPS administration and

other opponents of the oyster farm. Under

this archaic paradigm, any human involvement

with the imagined “wild” is

necessarily negative. It is impossible,

within that outmoded framework, to conceive

of ecosystem complexity and productivity

increasing under enlightened

management. Yet efforts now underway

to restore oysters to San FranciscoBay

offer a pertinent example of how shellfish,

as ecosystem engineers improve water

quality, add to structural diversity in the

estuarine system, and play a critical role

in enhancing ecosystem biodiversity, resilience,

and productivity.

A reasonably accessible introduction to

modern ecosystem theory is Fritjof

Capra’s, Web of Life. If Ridge et al. would

make the effort to understand the non-linearity

and self organizing complexity of

living, open systems like Drakes Estero –

and, indeed, the Earth herself – perhaps

we could begin to move beyond the dangerously

constrained limits of the current

debate toward the realization of a truly

dynamic, productive and sustainable future

for our community and our beleaguered

planet.

Jeff Creque

Petaluma

03-27-12 Greenwire: NPS noise data for CA oyster farm based on 1995 study in NJ

“We have all heard the chorus from NPS supporters about noisy oyster boats disturbing wildlife in Drakes Estero,” Goodman wrote in the letter, adding that NPS and contracted employees “knew or should have known that NPS had no such acoustic data from Drakes Estero, and so data were substituted from a report done for the New Jersey State Police in 1995 including measurements from a loud Jet Ski along the New Jersey shores.”

He added: “Surely it is time to put a stop to this repeated pattern of deception. Millions of dollars of taxpayer money have been spent to deceive the public, and to fool you.”

Greenwire http://www.eenews.net/gw/
4. INTERIOR:
NPS noise data for Calif. oyster farm based on 1995 study in N.J.
Emily Yehle, E&E reporter

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From 50 feet away, an oyster tumbler at Drakes Bay Oyster Co. reaches 79 decibels, on par with a noisy urban neighborhood, according to the National Park Service.

That is far higher than the Park Service’s 60-decibel limit, and it supports the agency’s calls for the farm to cease operations at its current location in a California wilderness area.

But there’s one problem: NPS never measured the sound of the oyster tumbler — or any other equipment at the farm.

A table in the agency’s recent draft environmental impact statement appears to imply otherwise, adding another allegation of scientific misconduct to an issue that has been mired in controversy for years.

The farm has operated in Point Reyes National Seashore for a century, receiving an exemption when Congress designated the land as a wilderness area more than 40 years ago. But its lease is up this year, and the EIS has become the focus of a fierce debate over whether the farm disturbs surrounding flora and fauna.

Noise from the farm’s operations has become the latest lightning rod. Employees routinely use motorboats to collect harvests and tend to the oyster bags, while a few pieces of equipment use small engines. Environmental groups say that disturbs wildlife and visitors.

The Park Service tackles the issue in the draft EIS, producing a table titled “Noise Generators at DBOC” that cites sound levels ranging from 71 decibels to 85 decibels. The report then refers to those numbers to conclude that noise from the farm “would result in long-term unavoidable adverse impacts on wildlife such as birds and harbor seals and visitor experience and recreation.”

But none of those numbers are measurements of the farm’s equipment. Instead, NPS used a 17-year-old study from Noise Unlimited on the New Jersey Police Department and a 2006 “Construction Noise Users Guide” from the Federal Highway Administration.

Then officials removed all language that made it clear the numbers were estimates.

A June 2011 internal version of the EIS shows a table with clear citations; three months later, Interior released a public draft that, among other things, referred to the sound levels as “representative” rather than “estimated.”

The National Park Service removed language that made it clear the noise levels were estimates, as shown in scientist Corey Goodman’s comparison between an internal June 2011 version and the September 2011 public draft. Click for a larger version. Graphic courtesy of Corey Goodman.

The comparisons can be a stretch. For the oyster tumbler, for example, NPS appears to have used one of five pieces of equipment listed in the 2006 user’s guide: a concrete mixer truck, a drill rig truck, a front end loader, a rivet buster or a ventilation fan.

The sound level for the farm’s motorboats matches up with the measurement of a 1995 Kawasaki Jet Ski in the Noise Unlimited study. The two have different engines; among other differences, the motorboats run at most on 40-horsepower engines, while the Jet Ski was fitted with a 70-horsepower engine.

Corey Goodman — a scientist who has long criticized NPS for its research on the farm — contends the agency knowingly misled the public. In a letter sent yesterday, he asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to investigate possible scientific misconduct.

“We have all heard the chorus from NPS supporters about noisy oyster boats disturbing wildlife in Drakes Estero,” Goodman wrote in the letter, adding that NPS and contracted employees “knew or should have known that NPS had no such acoustic data from Drakes Estero, and so data were substituted from a report done for the New Jersey State Police in 1995 including measurements from a loud Jet Ski along the New Jersey shores.”

He added: “Surely it is time to put a stop to this repeated pattern of deception. Millions of dollars of taxpayer money have been spent to deceive the public, and to fool you.”

Interior spokesman Adam Fetcher declined to comment on the details but said Goodman’s allegations “will be reviewed under the standard procedures contained in DOI’s scientific integrity policy.”

Problems with peer review
It is the latest headache for Interior in the controversy over NPS research on the California oyster farm.

Congress has already ordered a review from the National Academy of Sciences on whether the EIS has a “solid scientific foundation.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also has criticized the conclusions of the EIS, questioning whether research supports the EIS contention that the farm disturbs nearby harbor seals — and pointing out that there is no indication of negative impacts on fish protected by the Endangered Species Act or on “essential fish habitat” (Greenwire, Jan. 11).

Last week, ostensibly to combat such criticism, Interior released a peer review it commissioned. That review — facilitated by consulting firm Atkins North America — concluded that the EIS had no “fundamental flaw” in its scientific underpinnings (Greenwire, March 19).

But one peer reviewer based at least part of his conclusions on a false premise.

Christopher Clark, a bioacoustics expert at Cornell University, confirmed to Greenwire that he believed the table in the draft EIS on the oyster farm’s sound levels “represented measurements taken from DBOC activities.”

Clark declined to comment further, but in his review he refers to the table in his assessment that the draft EIS is “robust.”

“I conclude that there is ample acoustic scientific evidence by which the DEIS can determine that DBOC noise-generating activities have negative impacts on both the human visitor experience and the seashore’s wildlife,” he wrote.

To the farm’s owner, that is enough to brand the peer review as “absolutely worthless.”

“Here I read a peer review citing and congratulating the Park Service on data that don’t exist,” said DBOC owner Kevin Lunny, who has fought for years to keep his farm in Point Reyes National Seashore. The EIS, he added, “is meant to go to decisionmakers, and I see something that couldn’t pass any test of honesty or integrity. Somebody is not being honest with somebody here.”

Lunny also questioned why Clark was not given a copy of a study DBOC commissioned on the noise of its equipment.

That study — completed by ENVIRON International Corp. — measured the sound levels as far lower than the estimates in the draft EIS. The oyster tumbler, for example, clocked in between 50 and 59 decibels, rather than the 79 in the draft EIS.

NPS did not get the measurements until after releasing the draft EIS, as ENVIRON submitted a report with the study results during the comment period. But Lunny contends that Clark should have gotten the information.

He also criticized the selection of another peer reviewer: Ted Grosholz, a professor from University of California, Davis. Grosholz was one of two peer reviewers who studied the sections of the draft EIS dealing with marine estuarine ecology and coastal zone management. Both found the scientific analyses in the draft EIS “reasonable,” though they pointed to some interpretations that were not supported by evidence.

Grosholz’s name has come up throughout the controversy over the farm’s future in Drakes Estero. In 2007, for example, he was one of more than a dozen scientists NPS asked to review the agency’s research on Drakes Bay Oyster Co., in response to Goodman’s criticism. He has also pursued research at the site, though he has not received funding for it.

In a recent interview, Grosholz said he made it “extremely clear with everyone what my background is” when he was asked to conduct the review. He conceded that he is well-acquainted with two NPS scientists — Ben Becker and Sarah Allen — who have been at the center of the controversy for their research on the farm’s affect on wildlife, particularly nearby harbor seals.

But he dismissed Lunny’s contention that he is biased, pointing to his past work with other shellfish companies. The situation, he said, is “difficult” on all sides.

“I tend to work across the spectrum,” Grosholz said. “It’s not correct to say I’m somehow in the hip pocket of the Park Service.”

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03-26-12 Dr. Goodman letter to Secy of Int. Salazar Falsified Data in dEIS and Peer Review

In his letter to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, Dr. Corey Goodman makes the following requests:

(1) REQUEST FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO INVESTIGATE
SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT BY EMPLOYEES OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
(NPS) AND VANASSE HANGEN BRUSTLIN (VHB, EIS CONTRACTOR)

(2) REQUEST FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO DIRECT ATKINS
(PEER REVIEW CONTRACTOR) TO WITHDRAW THEIR REPORT ON THE DEIS

(3) REQUEST FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR TO DIRECT NPS TO
WITHDRAW THE DEIS AND CANCEL THE VHB CONTRACT

Click here for full text:

CSG to Salazar.03_26_12

03-26-12 Summary of NPS Deception & Falsification of Scientific Data

Dr. Corey Goodman, Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences spells out a “repeated pattern of deception” where “millions of dollars of taxpayer money are being spent to deceive the public”.

Please click the link below to read the full text:

summary of NPS DEIS and ATKINS review soundscape deception

03-26-12 NPS used falsified acoustic data to deceive Public an Peer review of dEIS

On March 21, Dr. Clark, of Cornell, was informed of the falsified data and retracted his support of the dEIS data and stated he “does not believe that these activities have a biologically significant impact on wildlife…”

Why? Ask yourselves, do these sound equal?

A 4-STROKE 70 HORSEPOWER JET SKI  versus a  2-STROKE, 20 HORSEPOWER, oyster boat?

Noise measurements at 4 feet above water line and 2 feet behind a 70 HP boat engine, to those at 50 feet from a 20 HP boat engine?

A Federal Highway Heavy Construction Diesel Forklift at 78 dBA, to the Oyster Farm’s Small Front End Loader at 64-65 dBA?

A 4-foot tall Federal Highway Heavy Construction Jack-Hammer at 85 dBA,  to an  18-inch hand held drill producing 70 dBA used by the oyster farm?

A Federal Highway Heavy Construction Rivet Buster at 79 dBA, to a 12v electric motor oyster tumbler at 50 dBA?

Noise factors overstated by a factor of 12 to 825 times in dEIS

What does this mean?

It would take TWELVE (12) boats like the DBOC oyster boat, all operating in the same location to generate the 71 dBA stated in the dEIS. (see page 30, Table H-1, footnote “b” in the linked document).

What difference does 10 decibels make?  “An increase of 3 dB is a doubling of the “strength” of the sound, and an increase of 10 dB means that the sound is 10 times as loud; i.e., 70 dB is 10 times as loud as 60 dB.”  http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/eng99/eng99325.htm

Here are some typical sounds, and their levels.

Sounds dB SPL
Rocket Launching                                  180
Jet Engine                                                  140
Air Raid Siren 1 Meter                          130
Jet takeoff (200 ft)                                 120
Discotheque                                              110
Firecrackers                                              100
Heavy Truck (15 Meter)                         90
Alarm Clock (1 Meter)                             80
Noisy Restaurant                                       70
Conversational Speech                            60
Light Traffic (50 Meter)                           50
Quiet Office                                                    40
Library, Soft Whisper (5 Meter)           30
Broadcasting Studio, Rustling Leaves 20
Hearing Threshold                                         0

For the full text of Dr. Goodman’s review of the NPS & Atkins review of soundscape deception, click the link below:

NPS DEIS and ATKINS review soundscape deception.9.2MB

03-01-2012 Atkins Review

The DOI paid for a review of the dEIS by Atkins.

The DOI requested an independent peer review of the DEIS (Chapters 3 and 4) to examine the scientific and technical information and scholarly analysis presented in the document

The peer review was limited to the scientific information used in the DEIS.

Atkins was directed to select at least four well-qualified, independent reviewers.

  • Marine Estuarine Ecology and Coastal Zone Management: Dr. Ted Grosholz, University of California – Davis, and Dr. Dianna Padilla, Stony Brook University (1)
  • Water Quality: Dr. Charlie Wisdom, Parametrix (2)
  • Soundscapes: Dr. Christopher Clark, Cornell University (3)
  • Socioeconomics: Dr. James Wilen, University of California – Davis (4)

(1) The reviewers (Grosholz & Padilla) noted several exceptions where conclusions were not reasonable and/or scientifically sound, or other conclusions may be drawn. … The reviewers also point out several instances where statements are made or alluded to without sufficient supporting information…. the DEIS assumes that the expansion of aquaculture activity will increase loss of eelgrass in linear fashion, but there are no data supporting that assumption…. the relative impact of the two oyster culture methods (off-bottom racks versus on-bottom bags) was not consistently applied when assessing the impacts of the alternatives, affecting the DEIS conclusions.

(2) He (Dr. Charlie Wisdom) noted that alternate conclusions (direct adverse effect versus no direct adverse effect) could have been drawn with regard to the potential impacts of leachates from CCA-treated lumber on juvenile coho salmon. The flushing rate of Drakes Estero is likely to be high enough to dilute concentrations below fish thresholds

(3) On March 21, Dr. Christopher Clark, of Cornell of Cornell University, was informed of the falsified data and retracted his support of the dEIS data stating he “does not believe that these activities have a biologically significant impact on wildlife…”

(4) Dr. Wilen found that the DEIS derives qualitative impact assessments with minimal comparative data and undefined criteria, leading to conclusions that are ―vague at best, and misleading at worst‖ (Appendix B).

For the full text of the Atkins review, click the link below

Final_DEIS_Drakes_Bay_SUP_Peer_Review_Report_030112

12-09-2011 Environ Report on dEIS

Actual study of Drakes Bay Oyster Company Boats and equipment reveals the deception in the dEIS of the NPS.

“ENVIRON International Corporation (ENVIRON) has reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit (ID: 43390), and appreciates this opportunity to report our technical comments to the National Park Service (NPS) in print form. ENVIRON regularly participates in NEPA processes such as this, and respects the effort put forth by the NPS in order to develop this draft document. The purpose of these comments is to assist the NPS in developing a more scientifically accurate and complete final document that is consistent with NEPA and NPS policy.

In general, the structure of the DEIS is unusual in that there is no alternative that represents the proposed action. Neither is there an alternative that represents a continuation of current conditions. In the current structure of the DEIS, the public is left to glean unknown conditions without the Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) as the no action scenario. Consequently, the impacts resulting from conditions under alternatives that depart from this unknown status (Alternative A) are even more difficult to understand. No explanation is provided for this deviation from standard NEPA protocol, and ENVIRON questions the efficacy of this approach. Setting aside the DEIS structure, comments have been developed in several topic areas.
ENVIRON found consistent omissions and mistakes that err in a way that exaggerates potential negative impacts and understates potential positive impacts benefits. NEPA protocol requires the author to apply a net impact analysis – an assessment of both positive and negative impacts. Without this net approach, results could point toward a ‘least negative’ alternative which might in fact be worse for the environment than another option that had more negatives, but more positives that potentially balance out or mitigate for the negative impacts.”

For the full text of the report click the link below:

ENVIRON 2011

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

North America – 38% wilderness

Africa – 28% wilderness

Check it out

http://anse.rs/stG5Bv

DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS

DECEMBER 9, 2011, MIDNIGHT MOUNTAIN TIME

 CLICK THIS LINK TO MAKE COMMENTS

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

11-16-11 Ca Historical Society – Reception Invitation

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

Oyster Farm Opening Reception

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harbor Seal Report 2005

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

Dr Goodman to NAS 12-18-07

 

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

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

02-03-09 DBOC Letter to NAS

DBOC letter to NAS 02-03-09

03-22-11 Frost Report

Frost report 03-22-2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Case of the Indian Trader review

 

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

 

By Dave Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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

A nationwide problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the book fair?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

With perspectives on the culture of

the National Park Service

PAUL BERKOWITZ

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

and

PETE McCLOSKEY

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

IN CONVERSATION

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

West Marin School Community Gym

11550 State Route 1, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Sponsors: ALSA, MARINWATCH, MARIN ORGANIC

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

National Parks Traveler

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10-28-2011 Peter Gleick: Bad Science Leads to Bad Policy – Huffington Post

 October 28, 2011

Peter H. Gleick

Water and climate scientist; President, Pacific Institute

GET UPDATES FROM Peter H. Gleick

Anti-science mania is sweeping parts of the United States. This isn’t new — there is a long history of irrational, pseudoscientific, or downright anti-scientific thinking and political culture here — ironic, given how much our founding fathers like Benjamin Franklin valued science. Examples include creationism, moon-landing denialism, claims linking vaccines to autism, denials that tobacco causes cancer long after the science was in, and especially the denial of climate change and global warming. This anti-science mentality is especially discouraging given how vital America’s scientific and technological strengths are to our economic and political strengths.

For reasons that a political scientist or sociologist would have to explore, this is a problem especially of the Republican right. For example, it is most evident in the lockstep, ideological denial of the realities of climate change by nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates and congressional representatives. The highly respected scientific journal Nature called Congressional inactions on climate “fundamentally anti-science” and an example of “willful ignorance,” and said:

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the US Congress has entered the intellectual wilderness, a sad state of affairs in a country that has led the world in many scientific arenas for so long.

In another example that would be amusing if it weren’t so bizarre, the theory of relativity is rejected in Conservapedia (a kind of Wikipedia for ideologues on the right who want their facts and definitions to line up with their political beliefs) because “It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world.” Whew! (And check out the entry that argues that atheists are more likely to be obese. But please, skip the entry on “evolution” — it will make a rational person’s head explode.)

But it isn’t only conservatives who use bad science to push political agendas.

In the past couple of years, a debate in the Bay Area over wilderness protection, sustainable agriculture, and the integrity of science has spiraled into the dirt. The fight is over whether to continue to permit a small privately managed oyster farm, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, to continue to operate inside the Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California. The oyster operation predates the Park, having been in Drakes Estero for nearly a century but the Estero is now eligible for wilderness status. Supporters of wilderness believe the oyster farm is an incompatible use and should be closed when its current lease expires in 2012. Supporters of local sustainable agriculture believe the farm should stay.

Wilderness versus local sustainable agricultural? The decision hinges on choosing among conflicting societal preferences and highly subjective factors — precisely the things that make public discourse, discussion, and debate important. But this fight has pitted neighbor versus neighbor, environmentalist versus environmentalist, and in this fairly liberal community, progressive versus progressive.

Good science can play a key role here in evaluating the impacts of the oyster farm. But we’re not getting good science. Instead, the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior (DoI), and some local environmental supporters (with whom I usually have strong common cause) have manipulated science in their efforts to close the farm. A series of reports have been issued with bad, incomplete, misleading, or cherry-picked evidence of impacts to seagrasses, water quality, fish diversity, and especially seals. These reports have been highly criticized by independent scientists, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. And data that contradicts their own studies have been withheld by the Park Service, including over 200,000 photographs from hidden cameras they set up to monitor disturbances caused by the oyster farm, but which now reportedly show no evidence of such disturbances.

An internal DoI report (the “Frost Report“) on this debacle was released earlier this year. That report acknowledged that the scientific arguments of damage from the oyster farm were false, and criticized withholding and cherry-picking data in public reports; writing journal articles with incomplete or wrong data; failing to present complete materials, data, and scientific observations to a National Academy of Sciences Committee, even after multiple requests; and issuing repeatedly false public statements. The Report found a “willingness to allow subjective beliefs and values to guide scientific conclusions,” the use of “subjective conclusions, vague temporal and geographic references, and questionable mathematical calculations,” and “misconduct [that] arose from incomplete and biased evaluation and from blurring the line between exploration and advocacy through research.” A separate National Academy of Sciences review found that the Park Service “selectively presented, over-interpreted, or misrepresented the available science on the potential impacts of the oyster mariculture operation.” Senator Dianne Feinstein, to her credit, has weighed in demanding a return to scientific integrity.

Yet a recently released draft Environmental Impact Statement on the farm repeats and expands upon these false claims. For example, the NPS is still claiming that the oyster farm is harming the seals in Pt. Reyes, but their only evidence is a highly disputed statistical study that has been debunked in major review by a group of leading scientists and statisticians, including Dr. Corey Goodman — a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and an outspoken local resident. (I have read Goodman’s review and find it compelling.) What has been the response? The Park Service and the Marine Mammal Commission have so far refused to review the scientific criticisms or participate in public discussions about the issues, and local advocates of wilderness have launched a series of blistering, personal ad hominem attacks on Dr. Goodman.

Science is not democratic or republican. Scientific integrity, logic, reason, and the scientific method are core to the strength of our nation. We may disagree among ourselves about matters of opinion and policy, but we (and our elected representatives) must not misuse, hide, or misrepresent science and fact in service of our political wars.

[Dr. Peter Gleick considers himself a scientist, an environmentalist, and a liberal Democrat. He doesn’t eat oysters and he likes wilderness. But he likes science more.]

10-27-11 Dr Gleick & Dr. Raymond defend Dr. Goodman, West Marin Citizen

West Marin Citizen October 27, 2011

Goodman defended by peers

EDITOR:

The two of us have watched with dismay as the debate over wilderness protection, sustainable agriculture, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, and the integrity of science has spiraled into the dirt. This long-term argument – never pretty – has taken a serious turn for the worse in the past two months with an escalation of personal, ad hominem attacks and an inexcusable defense of bad science by the National Park Service by a small number of loud players with vested interests. In particular, we decry the recent barrage of letter after letter published in the West Marin Citizen filled with personal attacks on the integrity of a highly respected scientist, Dr. Corey Goodman. Dr. Goodman, at huge personal cost to his time and reputation, has been in the front lines of efforts to ensure that the National Park Service’s blatant disregard for scientific integrity does not go unchallenged. His efforts, partly at the request ofCountySupervisor Steve Kinsey, have exposed serious and serial bad science.

The NPS has refused to respond to his scientific analyses, refused to convene any sort of independent review, and continues to both mischaracterize the environmental risks of the DBOC and to refuse to analyze and review their own evidence that contradicts their own findings, including over 200,000 photographs.

We were also compelled to write this letter because false claims are going unchallenged. In the most recent issue of the West Marin Citizen, a letter writer said: “I do find it significant that no other eminent scientists have concerned themselves to corroborate Dr. Goodman’s analysis.” This is false. Several eminent scientists have participated with Dr. Goodman in his analyses, and while readers can judge whether we fall into that category, the two of us have experience and expertise of some note and we fully support his work as well – as we have publicly stated. Indeed, it would be more accurate to say that no eminent scientists have successfully disputed Dr. Goodman’s analysis.

We are both elected members of the NationalAcademyof Sciences. One of us is a MacArthur Fellow and President of the Pacific Institute. The other is Chancellor’s Professor of Chemistry at U.C. Berkeley. Gleick also serves as chair of the American GeophysicalUnion’s Task Force on Scientific Integrity. Both of us have reviewed the NPS science, and are deeply disturbed by its bias, unsupported characterizations, and misrepresentations.

In fact, Dr. Goodman has been far more restrained in his public statements than we have. One of us (KR) recently wrote to Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and said: “I regard this as fraud and in other occupations it could be prosecuted.”

The other of us (PG) recently wrote to Salazar’s science advisor, Dr. Marcia McNutt, and said: “This is not the first instance of scientific misconduct and misrepresentation by NPS scientists at PRNS.”

Recent letters in The Citizen have also cherry-picked phrases from the Department of the Interior “Frost Report” of March 22, 2011 on the science at PRNS to try to cast a negative impression of Dr. Goodman. In fact, that Report described the NPS scientists as having “bias,” “advocacy,” a “troubling mind-set,” of having “mishandled” data, acted “improperly,” and showed a “willingness to allow subjective beliefs and values to guide scientific conclusions.” The Report stated:

“This misconduct arose from incomplete and biased evaluation and from blurring the line between exploration and advocacy through research.” The Report went on to conclude that the three NPS scientists had all violated the NPS Code of Scientific and Scholarly Conduct. Those are the key findings of the Frost Report, not the few words cherry picked by the letter writers trying to discredit those who have tried to hold the NPS accountable for the science it publishes.

Scientists are often reluctant to enter the public fray precisely because we prefer to argue facts and numbers and analysis in cases when personal attacks, vitriol, and emotion dominate. Indeed, other scientists have told us they do not want to see their good names dragged through the mud by the same kind of vicious attacks that Park supporters have launched against Dr. Goodman. We admire Dr. Goodman for his courage. We stand with him on the side of scientific integrity.

It is time for the NPS to respond directly and publicly to his criticisms or their flawed work should be retracted. Allowing the draft Environmental Impact Statement to cite this so-called science while the NPS scientists refuse to publicly debate it is a disservice to the community and to science. Independent of the debate over the oyster farm, if the decision is tainted with bad science, we all lose.

Dr. Peter Gleick, Berkeley;

Dr. Kenneth Raymond, Berkeley

2011-10-27 E&E article excerpt

E&ENews PM 

1. INTERIOR:

Issa probe targets NPS scientists’ work on Calif. oyster farm

Emily Yehle, E&E reporter

Published: Thursday, October 27, 2011

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has launched a review of alleged scientific misconduct at the National Park Service, demanding that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hand over all communications regarding a California oyster farm.

Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which has operated for almost 90 years on Point Reyes National Seashore, is nearing the end of its 40-year lease. As NPS considers whether to allow the company to stay in a national wilderness area, deliberations have sparked fierce debate over whether the farm’s continued operations would harm harbor seals.

NPS scientists say the farm upsets the breeding of nearby seals, but their research has been called into question by several independent panels and outside scientists.

Now, that evidence will come under the review of the Oversight Committee’s Republicans. In his letter, Issa asks Salazar to make seven Interior employees available for transcribed interviews starting Nov. 7, including NPS Director Jon Jarvis and science adviser Marsha McNutt.

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

Issa now joins Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in expressing concern over the validity of NPS data. Earlier this year, Feinstein asked NPS to delay the EIS until the Marine Mammal Commission completed its investigation into the issue. But the review was issued on schedule — a fact she said “troubled” her.

In arguing that the farm harms seals, NPS officials primarily cited a recent paper published by three agency scientists that asserts three decades of displacement. An outside biologist — National Academy of Sciences member Corey Goodman — has since criticized the findings as distorted.

For example, Goodman discovered that the three-decade claim is based on data that actually begin in 1997, with notes from only two years in the 1980s. He also asserts that a two-year displacement resulted from an elephant seal attack — and not the harvest levels of the farm.

NAS scientists Peter Gleick and Kenneth Raymond also recently criticized the Park Service for refusing to respond to Goodman’s analysis of the report. In a column in today’s Point Reyes Light, they argue that allowing the EIS “to cite this so-called science while the NPS scientists refuse to publicly debate it is a disservice to the community and to science.”

Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said the issue was brought to the committee’s attention last spring and further research brought up “troubling questions.” Issa’s letter, among other things, cites a report from Interior’s solicitor’s office that found that at least one of the report’s co-authors “acted improperly” by not disclosing the existence of photographs of the oyster farm’s daily operations.

“Despite finding apparently exculpatory evidence with respect to DBOC’s alleged harm upon the harbor seal population, NPS continues to advocate for the removal of the oyster farm,” Issa wrote. “NPS maintains this position despite the fact that an internal investigation found several individuals within NPS violated the NPS code of scientific conduct.”

Issa asks Salazar to submit a variety of documents by Nov. 4, including interview notes from the solicitor’s investigation, photographs of the oyster farm and draft versions of the EIS. In addition to Jarvis and McNutt, Oversight Republicans plan to interview Solicitor Gavin Frost, former Point Reyes Superintendent Don Neubacher, current Superintendent Cicely Muldoon and NPS scientists Sarah Allen and Ben Becker.

NPS spokesman David Barna said the agency will “respond to the congressional member directly and the member may release our response if appropriate.”

In an interview today, Drakes Bay Oyster Co. owner Kevin Lunny said he was grateful that the committee was looking into the issue.

“We’re actually surprised but very grateful that Congress has recognized that there’s a problem here,” he said, “and we really feel that now we have hope that these problems can be resolved and we can get back to a good working relationship” with NPS.

dEIS Socio-economic Impacts in the dEIS

A core group of approximately 30 people works the oyster farm at Drakes Estero (with spouses and children, the total that will be affected is about 70 people). All but one of the workers are Mexican. Half of the workers and their families live at the oyster farm, and most of the others, with their families, live on the surrounding ranches.

For generations these families have been caring for the oyster beds at Drakes Estero. Due in great part to their excellent stewardship of the Estero, Drakes is known as one of the healthiest estuarine systems in the country. Additionally, the workers have developed specialized skill sets including the “Hanging cultch” rack method of cultivation particular to Drakes Estero, as well as skills based on the cannery.

The dEIS did not consider the historical and cultural value of the oyster farm nor the women of the oyster farm, who’s spouses, many of whom, work on the surrounding ranches and in the nearby dairies.

Should the oyster farm be removed, the workers will not only lose their jobs, but also they will have to pick up their families, and move to Oregon or Washington to look for work, if it is available, since Drakes Bay Oyster Company is the sole remaining oyster cannery in California. Should they choose to remain in Marin County, they will likely have to look for unskilled jobs paying far less. Furthermore, in that many of the spouses of the DBOC workers are employed by the surrounding ranches, if the DBOC wokers lose their jobs, the ranches will lose their employees as well.

Their children are enrolled in our schools, their families attend our churches, and they are a significant part of the social fabric of our small community of approximately 1500.

Being isolated from the rest of the county, our area is also known as West Marin. Rather than look at the community itself, the dEIS includes the entirety of Marin County. As you can see from the map on page 216 in the dEIS, the majority of the population of Marin County is centered along the 101 corridor.

Drakes Estero is

  • 29.26 miles from Terra Linda (via Lucas Valley Road)
  • 27.103 from Novato, via Novato Blvd.
  • 26.721 miles from San Rafael, via Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
    • 23.8 miles from Fairfax, at the west border of the core of the county’s population west of San Rafael, via Sir Francis Drake Blvd.)

http://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm

West Marin is serviced twice a day eastbound (6:30 and 9:35 AM), and twice a day westbound (3:13 and 6:30 PM)  by the West Marin Stage Coach. Even so, the coach terminates in the west end in Inverness, 5.56 miles away from Drakes Estero and in the east at the transit center in San Rafael. Transit time is 82 minutes – 1.36 hours one way. Add another 10 minutes to get to or from the estero and a one-way travel is 1.75 hours.

The core population to the west of highway 101 extends westward by less than 4 miles. In between the core of the population of Marin county and the estero are miles and miles of ranches, dairies and farms.

Upon arriving at Point Reyes Station, to get to the oyster farm, one has to pass through town and head south around the southern end of Tomales bay, then travel north and west approximately another 8 miles for Drakes Estero is further isolated from Point Reyes Station by Tomales Bay.

Economically, DBOC contributes approximately $350,000.00 a year in sales tax alone. When you consider payroll taxes, permits, rents, etc. the operation contributes at least $500,000.00 to state, local and federal income annually.

Marin County has a population of 252,409 (as of 2010 census) whereas Point Reyes and Inverness combined, boasts a population of approximately 1,500 (although the road-sign as one enters Point Reyes still boasts “Population 350” – perhaps that is discounting those who do not live here full time but only own vacation homes here).

Strangely, the dEIS does not even consider Mexicans, Latinos, or Hispanics minorities. (See table 3-6 on page 215 of the dEIS). Listed are only the following:

  • Black 3.2(% in Marin county) 6.2 (% in California)
  • American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 (% in Marin county) 0.8 (% in California)
  • Asian 5.7 (% in Marin county) 12.3 (% in California)
  • Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0.2 (% in Marin county) 0.4 (% in California)
  • Some other race 6.9 (% in Marin county) 15.5 (% in California)
  • Two or more races 2.2 3.5
  • Total minority 18.6 38.7

The California Historical Society appreciates the oyster farm and its worker’s historical and cultural value. From October 27, 2011 to January 19, 2012, the California Historical Society is hosting the exhibit “Oyster Farm”, featuring the documentary photography of artist Evvy Eisen.

To find out more about the exhibit, go to www.californiahistoricalsociety.org

To view the Evvy Eisen’ photos, go to http://oysterfarmphotos.com/

dEIS Stands for Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Based on it’s name, one would expect, at the very least, data and evidence supporting findings of environmental impact.

In this blog, we will look at the top three major points to ponder, but first, the entire dEIS is available on line at:

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

Being that the document is 722 pages cover to cover, when you click on the above link and scroll down to the sub-heading “Document Content”, you will find the dEIS is broken into seven PDF documents which you can download to your computer and print all, portions, single pages, or selected text. The documents are:

  1. Front Matter (74 pages which includes)
    • Abstract
    • Executive Summary
    • (Table of) Contents
    • Acronyms
  2. Chapter 1 – Purpose and Need for Action (58 pages)
  3. Chapter 2 – Alternatives (100 pages)
    • all ultimately ending with termination and removal of the oyster operations
    • missing is a “No Action” Alternative
  4. Chapter 3 – Affected Environment (80 pages – those “topics” deemed potentially impacted)
  5. Chapter 4 – Environmental Consequences (186 pages – to what degree, if any, the different alternatives will affect each of the impact topics)
  6. Chapter 5 – Consultation and Coordination
  7. Appendixes

 

The Top Three Major Points to Ponder (722 pages is a bit daunting so here are the basics)

1.  Potential vs. Data and Evidence (since the dEIS is a PDF, a search for words or phrases can be performed)

    • Do a find for the word “POTENTIAL” (remember potential does not mean evidence of actual impacts ever having occurred in recorded history, but might, maybe, perhaps,  occur – merely hypothetical speculation and supposition)
      • potential” appears over 700 times.
      • Delete the combination phrase “potential wilderness” then the word “potential”, as it relates to HYPOTHETICAL POTENTIAL FUTURE IMPACT  and it appears 514 times
    • Do a find for “data” and “evidence” (as in supporting impact statements) and you will find 7 instances
      • 1 reference to seals (which turns out to be a positive impact)
      • 0 references to eelgrass
      • 0 references to red-legged frogs
    • Conclusion:
      • There is NO DATA / EVIDENCE to support any negative finding whatsoever, be it minor, moderate, or major, on any impact topic covered in the dEIS.

 

2.  Chapter 1, Purpose and Need for Action, References Used for Impact Analysis, page 23 states:

“Secondary references are those for which evidentiary support is not directly traceable to a source that complies with recognized standards for data documentation and scientific inquiry. Secondary references can include documents that have not been subjected to peer review or that do not reflect direct on-site observations or measurements in accordance with a standard protocol for data documentation.” …“In general, secondary references were not used for the analysis, unless there was a compelling reason to do so.”

    • Legislation enacted by Senator Dianne Feinstein instructed NPS to follow the NAS conclusion of “no major adverse impact”.
    • The National Academies of Science, after reviewing the NPS report concluded that resolving the controversy over the potential harbor seal disturbances “… would require a data collection system that could be independently verified, such as time and date stamped photographs. This verification is especially important in circumstances where there is an indication of a source of disturbance that could lead to a regulatory action, as was the case with disturbances attributed to DBOC.”
    • In 2007, the NPS had in fact installed and operated cameras to record minute-by-minute color photographs during Harbor Seal pupping seasons. Over the three plus years the cameras were in operation 281,000 photographs were taken
      • Each photograph was logged and analyzed
      • Each photograph is available to view at the NPS website
      • Not one photograph shows disturbance of Harbor Seals attributable to DBOC operations,
        • kayakers, hikers, cyclists, etc., yes they have caused disturbances
        • DBOC is INNOCENT as EVIDENCED by 281,000 PHOTOGRAPHS

Conclusions:

      • The 281,000 photos and accompanying logs are EVIDENCE of no harm to harbor seals by DBOC
      • The 281,000 photos and accompanying logs qualify as Secondary reference material as defined on page 23 of the dEIS and need to be included
      • The 281,000 photos and accompanying logs should be included in the dEIS
        • per the NAS direction
        • per dictate of current legislation

3.  Becker 2011 report

    • Is titled “Evidence for long term spatial displacement of breeding and pupping harbour seals by shellfish aquaculture over three decades”
    • Has a FOURTEEN-YEAR GAP where  NO DATA IS PROVIDED.
    • The information from ’82 and ’83 are notes from a field notebook from a field trip.
      •  This source might qualify as a secondary reference as defined on page 23, however on that same page is the statement “In general, secondary references were not used for the analysis, unless there was a compelling reason to do so.”
      •  If 281,000 photos and their accompanying logs are not to be included neither should field notes from two years immediately prior to a 14 year gap in data be.
    • The “evidence of displacement” provided is evidence seals sought refuge by moving INTO Drakes Estero over a two-year period. A marauding elephant seal killed 40 seals, the remaining seals attained safe harbor within the Estero until the threat moved on.
    • Conclusions:
      • NO EVIDENCE EXISTS OF DISPLACEMENT OF HARBOR SEALS OUT OF DRAKES ESTERO.
      • THERE IS NO NEGATIVE IMPACT TO HARBOR SEALS BY DBOC

These three are merely the three major points of the draft EIS. Looking at each section within the report you will find more of the same, claims without data, hypotheses without substance, declarations without evidence.

Open Public Meetings vs. Public Open House, or A Tale of Two Formats

During my first meeting with Dr. Goodman, Corey provided me with information about a presentation he had made to the California Council on Science and Technology. He had been invited to speak about Trust and Accountability in Science and Technology on October 18, 2010. The power point presentation along with the audio had been uploaded to YouTube. Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4ImdD4praE&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLB806A03FBD576029

(The presentation is in six 12-minute parts. Watch it to find out much of what happened in the DBOC saga up to that point in time.)

That evening, I reviewed the entire presentation. My first impression was he is the science professor we all wished we had back in college, easygoing, well spoken, interesting to listen to and interested in his subject. He is possessed of the kind of love for science that can engender a similar love for science in his student. My second impression was, the public needs to hear what he has to say. (Even if one is a proponent of shutting down DBOC, one should listen to this presentation and see the power point slide presentation accompanying it.)

A week or two later, while attending a  performance at The Dance Palace Community Center, I ran into Dr. Goodman, who came to see the show with his wife and friends of theirs. Dr. Goodman informed me he is also  jazz and blues pianist, that was why he came for this particular performance. the DP is one of the fabulous venues we have here in Point Reyes. (For a small town, we have an amazing amount of talent not only living here, but also coming to town to present, perform, and offer their gifts, talents, and knowledge.

I told him I felt he must give his presentation locally; the people need to hear him and what he has to say. If people could only get the information, answer a lot of questions, they would be able to make an informed decision and we might be able to put everyone at ease.  (I know it is hard to believe coming from someone as outspoken as I have been, however I do believe in people and their ability to change their minds when allowed access to all the available knowledge.) He said he had already been thinking about it and wanted to find a way to make it happen.

Over the next few weeks, he worked on the presentation, the ad and the invitation, while I worked on getting a venue, securing sponsors as well as moderators, and getting the word out. Once the dEIS was out and the public meeting dates were set for October 18-20, we decided on October 16 for his presentation.

Late in the morning on Wednesday the 12th, the superintendent of PRNS emailed me the NPS’ decision to decline our invitation . The local papers go to press on Wednesdays and  on the stands on Thursdays. A similar letter had been forwarded to the papers encouraging the public instead to attend the NPS open house meetings.

On October 16, 2011, Dr. Corey Goodman made his presentation to a crowd of 150 people at the Dance Palace Community Center. I reserved the hall for two hours since we had to be out no later than 4 considering the next group was scheduled for a 6:30 PM presentation and needed access for their set up.

Dr. Goodman spoke for an hour and thirty-five minutes before opening the floor to the Q&A. The Q&A lasted until well after 3:30, two and a half hours. Corey continued to make himself available to anyone who still had comments or questions afterwards, outside the building. As upset as people were by the fact that the NPS scientists did not show up, they were equally satisfied with the presentation and even happier with Q&A . People said they felt ready for the NPS meetings to follow beginning two nights later.

When we arrived at the first of the NPS’s public meetings, we were greeted by an army of NPS personnel outfitted in their  uniforms replete with metal badges and nametags giving the appearance of the event being “Policed” by the NPS. Several commented, “Where are their guns?”, many reported feeling “intimidated” by the uniforms. Personally, I appreciated being able to distinguish the NPS personnel from the rest of the crowd.

Some of us were puzzled by the greeting, “Welcome to the EIS cocktail party.” Upon entering the Dance Palace Main Hall, we began to understand why the NPS people refered to it as such. Around the perimeter of the room were easels, most with enlargements of information from the dEIS. Interspersedamongst those easels were a few easels with blank writing pads and a scribe stationed nearby equipped with magic markers in black, blue, red, and green. The universal first comment was “Where is the presentation?

Neither a presentation nor a Q&A was to be had and we all felt we had been had. Furthermore, the majority of the scribes at the three meetings were not even from our park, the PRNS. In response to our “you-must-be-kidding” reactions, we were told the scribes were there to record our “comments and questions” and the boards with the EIS information are where the answers would be. Printed copies of the EIS , we were told, were also available on a table should the answers not be found on the easel boards provided. That same format was repeated Wednesday evening at Fort Mason in San Francisco and Thursday evening at Tam High in Mill Valley.

I came equipped with the chronology I had put together on my own as well as pertinent sections of the dEIS so that I could quote page and verse, and particular pages of Dr. Goodman’s Sunday power point presentations. I took my place in line at one easel after another to have my comments recorded. Having come as prepared as I did, my questions and comments were complete. If I attempted to make more than one comment people in line as well as NPS personnel asked me to step aside to “let others make comments”.

Something strange began to happen as I moved from easel to easel. I was being followed. An NPS agent would appear at the elbow of the scribe, shortly after I begain my comments. He would  interrupt my scribe telling her it was time for her break, or asking him if he wanted a break, or telling her that someone needed her across the room. This happened repeatedly yet only two agents took it upon themselves to do so. As to breaks, keep in mind these were merely two-hour sessions. In all the union jobs I have ever held, from the Restaurant Worker’s Union to the Teamsters Union, to the Retail Worker’s Union, I had to work three hours to be entitled to a break in the middle of the shift however, a two-hour shift earned no breaks.

To their credit, most scribes responded by saying either she did not need a break, or he wanted to finish my comments before going. I even had to tell one agent, “She can take her break as soon as I finish my comment.” (Curiously, though, after recounting this treatment to NPS agent DelOsso on Thursday evening he responded with “Huh! No one offered me a break on Tuesday night.”)

My husband and I had a long conversation with Melanie Gunn on Tuesday evening. During our tete a tete, the agent who had appeared at three different stations as I was offering my commentary came to stand next to Melanie. With his arms folded across his chest he stared straight ahead as we talked. I let five minutes go by before stepping between Melanie and Frank to ask the agent if there was something he needed. He said no but he didn’t leave Melanie’s side for another five minutes.

Perturbed by the treatment I received on the first two evenings, Thursday morning I purchased my own easel and wrote up my comments. Where appropriate I  attached relevant slides from Dr. Corey Goodman’s presentation of the previous Sunday. All togetherI had six sheets with me when I arrived for Thursday evening’s meeting .

I approached Cicely Muldoon, the superintendent of PRNS, told her how my comments had been received the prior two evenings, explained that I had written my comments, brought them with me, and asked her if she would hang them up with the others. I thought she went a bit pale at first but then she said, “As long as there is no profanity and no one’s name is mentioned I think we can do that.” The tallest agent and the tallest scribe were asked to assist affixing my comments to the window where the comments were to be displayed. They both reiterated the admonition “there was no profanity on these sheets.”

Many people came to read what I had posted including all of the NPS peraonnel. With my iPhone, I eventually photographed every NPS agent and scribe making their way around the room to see what had been posted.

It dawned on me that this most likely was the first time most of them gained access to any of this information, no wonder they each came by and spent time reading every word and studying Dr. Goodman’s “slides”. Neal Desai returned four times to read my posted comments;, Gordon Bennett five times – I have the photos.

On a final note, the NPS has never opened itself up to public questions in a public forum at any time over the past four years. These three meetings were no exception. The people claiming legal bases for the NPS’s approach to the matter were not the scribes nor were they available for question or comment. The people involved with the Becker report(s) with the answers to scientific questions were not the scribes nor were they available for questions or comment. As scientists and authors of the scientific papers behind the dEIS, the NPS scientists have a government obligation to respond to scientific criticisms. Specifically, the Department of the Interior Scientific Integrity Policy (1/28/11) states:

“I will welcome constructive criticism of my scientific and scholarly activities and will be responsive to their peer review.”

 I leave you with a quote I found recently:

“In science, it often happens that scientists say, “You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,” and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day.” (emphasis added) ~Carl Sagan, 1987

About the Chronology (Oysters, DBOC & the NPS)

To view the chronology, click this link:

Chronology 05-05-12 44 pages

The first page covers the history of oyster farming in Drake’s Estero as well as the creation of the farms and ranches in the early 1800’s, through 1962 and the creation of the Point Reyes National Seashore.

The date of the latest update is included in the name of the document.

How did you get involved? Why are you doing this? What do you hope to accomplish? Those are the first three questions people ask me, and they usually ask all three, one right after the other.

Early July 2004, we moved to Point Reyes Station, part of West Marin, on the coast Marin County California, the county just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. Over my years here, I have come to know ‘community’ for the first time in my life. It began with the coffee hour after Mass on Sundays at Sacred Heart Church where I first met the core of the ‘community’ that I was to come to call my own. It was there I met Kevin and Nancy Lunny, who purchased the old Johnson’s Oyster Company in early 2005. What was to unfold was a story fit for a Carl Hiaasen novel except, you could not make this stuff up.

Over the next six years, I listened to the trials and tribulations of Kevin and Nancy at the coffee hour then would go home and try to recount what I had heard to my husband. My stories would be met with responses ranging from dubiousness to outright disbelief. Answering his questions was near to impossible for the story seemed too fantastic to be true as I attempted to recount it.

As of April of this year, after the fifth major business and family stressors in my new life ‘at the Point’ was finally behind me, I decided I needed to know what the real story was behind Lunny’s Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the National Park Service. I did not know who to believe, what was accurate, or who or what was really behind it all. I just wanted to know what had happened. One thing I do know is my memory fails me if I do not write things down so I started this chronology. Using the internet I found the history of the area, the farms, ranches, dairies and the oyster farm as well as some of the studies, documents, and letters relating to this saga. It grew to nine pages however, I knew much was still missing from what I had been hearing and reading over the years.

Kevin and Nancy Lunny accepted my invitation to meet and tell me their side of the story. My husband asked to attend the meeting. I explained I just wanted to understand what has happened, and the only way for me to do that was to do some research and get it written down as a chronology. On August 1, 2011, we met at the Pine Cone Diner in town at noon setting aside two hours. Nearly four hours later, Frank and I left with our heads overflowing with information and me with a pile of barely legible notes.

Over the next couple of weeks, I realized I also needed to speak with Dr. Corey Goodman. Dr. Goodman is the scientist who, at the request of Marin County Board of SupervisorSteve Kinsey, in 2007 was asked to review the National Park Service scientific report on Drakes Estero and discovered what he called “scientific misconduct”. Many investigations have been conducted since, much documentation is available on line, but I knew I needed to talk to the scientist behind it all. My emailed request for Corey’s contact information to the Lunnys on Friday August 12, led to my forwarding my sparse chronology to him that afternoon and requesting an appointment. I was welcomed into his home two days later. Frank accompanied me for he had his own questions.

“What do you want to accomplish?” was his first question. “I want to understand what has transpired and, if it turns out to be what I think; the first thing I want is Congressional Hearings. It doesn’t seem just what is going on however; I need more information to understand what has happened. If what has happened is unjust, I want to see justice done.” Our one-hour appointment lasted nearly four hours and in the months since, the chronology has grown to nearly 40 pages. It is saved as a PDF document so you can easily do a “Find” for names, dates, documents, whatever you wish. I will continue to add to it as the saga continues.

In order to understand what has transpired, one needs the facts, all of them, without pre-conceived notions or someone else’s agenda clouding the facts.

The public has until November 29, 2011 to post comments on the NPS website. Before you comment, please read the chronology, follow the hyper-links to the sources of information, watch the presentations, then think and decide for yourself what is really going on.

I am working as quickly as I can to provide you with as much pertinent information as possible so that you can make an informed decision and help justice be done through your comments.

Please click this link to see the chronology:

 

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