THE STORY OF AN OYSTER FARMER VERSUS WASHINGTON INSIDERS

Off Highway Vehicle enthusiasts in California are not the only average Americans impacted by politicians and their allies. It has been demonstrated over and over again how the Democrats in Washington are craven to green money and green propaganda. The greens have made environmentalism the new religion and anyone who opposes their agenda is banded a heretic.

Obama received about a billion dollars in campaign contribution in the last election, a lot of it from environmental groups. First we need to remember the Deep-water Horizon blowout which was the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It occurred under President Obama’s watch.

“Ken Salazar has been the secretary of the interior since 2009. Shortly after his appointment, Mr. Salazar visited the agency’s Denver office and declared at a news conference that he was the “new sheriff in town” who would bring significant changes.”

“With the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, the Minerals Management Service has come under intense scrutiny. Before the explosion, it had become clear that Mr. Salazar had done little in terms of reform. After the explosion Mr. Obama scolded Mr. Salazar for his cowboy rhetoric and acknowledged his impatience with the pace of change at the minerals service.”

See: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/ken_salazar/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Now it seems that after a few rough patches, Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, is making good on his conservation credentials and fulfilling his friends’ expectations.

‘On Thursday he ended the longstanding dispute by announcing an oyster farms lease from Point Reyes National Seashore would end Friday as originally planned.  An estuary known as Drakes Estero, where the oyster operation has existed for 100 years, will become a federally designated wilderness area.”

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/science/earth/point-reyes-oyster-farm-ordered-closed.html?_r=0

First a little background… The Drake’s Bay Oyster Company, a 100- year old company presently owned and operated by the Lunny family, grew and canned oysters in the most environmental friendly way they could. They were applauded for their environmental record by everyone. The National Park Service (NPS) even gave them an award for being such outstanding environmental stewards.

“But when it came time for the NPS to fulfill its promise and renew the lease, things changed. All of a sudden, the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company changed from environmental champions to environmental criminals.”

“The NPS accused the Lunny’s of causing devastation to the pristine Drake’s Estero. It started with claims oyster excrement was harming the Estero. When that trumped up charge didn’t wash, the NPS trotted out one allegation after another, from damage to fish to harming the eel grass and harbor seals, an endangered species. Of course, none of the allegations stand up under independent scientific review and the NPS was found to have buried data showing the oyster farm didn’t harm a thing.”

https://www.sharetrails.org/public-lands/nps-oyster-stew-betrayal-deja-vu

In 2009, a panel of scientists concluded that park officials had made errors, selectively presented information and misrepresented facts in a series of reports about the shellfish operation.

In short, the National Park Service officials who lease the land to the oyster farmer have long contended that the oyster operation harms the environment. Their draft environmental impact statement in 2011 concluded that the oyster farm has a major impact on the Drakes Bay “soundscape” and has moderate impacts on wetlands, eelgrass, fauna, harbor seals, birds and the coastal flood zone.

The impacts, officials said, are so great that the oyster company lease should be terminated.

But the Park Service review has itself come under scrutiny.

“In August, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that there was not enough information in the review to determine whether the oyster operation was harming the historic waterway. The academy’s National Research Council said, in essence, that the scientific evidence did not support claims that the shellfish operation caused noise pollution, scared birds and harbor seals or harmed shoreline habitat.”

“The academy report represented another blow to the park service, which has been accused by oyster farm proponents of a pattern of misconduct, including the deliberate fudging of data.”

“Last year, the Interior Department’s office of the solicitor released a report outlining what it termed biased, improper, mistake-ridden work by park scientists, but cleared the researchers of misconduct.”

The park’s environmental review was required by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who was dismayed by the various negative reports and has been highly critical of the science used by the Park Service.

An option to extend the lease which prompted Secretary Salazar’s visit last week was largely because of Feinstein’s criticism of what she and others have said was the Park Service’s unfair and, in some cases, dishonest attempts to kick the oyster farm out.

See: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Scientists-side-with-Drakes-Bay-oyster-farmer-3242873.php

Feinstein, included a rider in an appropriations bill that gave Salazar discretion to extend the oyster purveyor’s lease or terminate it when it expires Nov. 30.

As a result of Feinstein’s action, a week ago Salazar visited Drakes Bay Oyster Farm and said he will make a decision on whether to extend their lease for 10 years, which would effectively prevent the National Park Service from turning the estuary into a marine wilderness.

After touring the operation, Salazar met with representatives of some of the 16 environmental organizations that want to see the nonnative oysters removed from Drakes Bay and the waterway returned to wilderness. They include the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Wilderness Society and the Marin Audubon Society.

See: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Point-Reyes-oyster-farm-decision-near-4058328.php

“The public has been waiting for more than three decades for this agreement to be fulfilled,” said Neal Desai, associate director for the National Parks Conservation Association, adding that there are many other places where oysters can be grown. This is our one opportunity to create a marine wilderness on the West Coast.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the National Academy of Sciences claimed park officials were trying to get rid of the oyster farm by exaggerating its negative impacts on the environment “The National Park Service’s review process has been flawed from the beginning with false and misleading science,” she said in a statement.

http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Calif-oyster-farm-closure-ends-long-battle-4079540.php

National conservation groups that urged full wilderness protection included Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Wilderness Watch, The Wilderness Society, and National Parks Conservation Association.

Some environmental organizations sent a letter to Secretary Salazar. See; http://www.savepointreyeswilderness.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Drakes-Estero-green-group-CEO-letter-2.28.12.pdf

Of course in the end they got the protection they demanded and Salazar has given the oyster farm ninety days to move out citing the Endangered Species Act. He doesn’t mind relying on junk science to give his friends what they want.

Salazar did not stop all commercial activities in the park. He sought to extend the terms of the cattle ranch leases from 10 to 20 years. “Ranching operations have a long and important history on the Point Reyes peninsula and will be continued at Point Reyes National Seashore,” he said.

Are these commercial activities compatible with the wilderness preserve which he created and more to the point; why isn’t the oyster farm compatible with the same wilderness designation?

Many local conservationists were nevertheless overjoyed. Congressional representatives, including Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, former Park Service employees, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Wilderness Society and the Marin Audubon Society applauded the decision.

See: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/U-S-evicting-Point-Reyes-oyster-farmer-4077624.php

Do the names of these groups ring a bell? They should because they are the same groups vilifying the off road community and trying to keep us from recreating in the “Great Outdoors” Other adversaries, including PEER who filed the failed lawsuit to close down Carnegie SVRA have made their viewpoints about this issue known to the public.

“These objective findings, along with dozens of other peer reviewed studies, substantiate Park Service science that shows extending the lease for the Drakes Bay oyster operation within this national park wilderness area will damage fragile coastal habitat and wildlife,” said Amy Trainer, executive director of Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “This analysis proves once and for all that the Park Service is conducting a fair public process.”

See: http://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/2012/03/19/peer-review-supports-park-service-science-on-drakes-estero/

“A heartfelt salute to Secretary Salazar for his wisdom and statesmanship in choosing long-term public good over short-term private interests,” said Sylvia Earle, a local environmentalist and the former chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Protecting Drakes Estero, America’s only West Coast marine wilderness park, will restore health and hope for the ocean and for the interests of all of the people of this country.”

With Salazar’s blessing the National Park Service will turn the 2,700-acre area into the first federally designated marine wilderness area on the West Coast, giving the estuary special protected status as an unaltered ecological region except it’s not an unaltered ecological region. It’ unaltered status seems to be based on the provision that the oyster farm will have its lease terminated with by NPS.

In effect it is easy to step on the American public including a small oyster farmer and let the real polluters off the hook.

The estuary, known as Drakes Estero is within the boundaries of the national seashore, which is visited by 2 million people a year, providing $85 million in economic activity and 1,000 jobs to surrounding communities (good stuff but it isn’t related to wilderness designation). That is two million people with their cars, their hydrocarbons and other pollutants seeping into the environment and they call this area a national wilderness?

The vast coastal area is home to 15 historic dairy farms and cattle ranches, sheepherders and organic farmers who live and work next to, and in some cases on, National Park Service land. It is only a short distance away from a major metropolitan area. It is sixty four miles and an hour and forty four minutes’ drive from San Francisco.

I guess it doesn’t take much to designate an area national wilderness and take away a one hundred year operation from a small oyster farming establishment while allowing other businesses nearby to flourish.

Lunny (the owner) should have designated his oyster farm as harvesting organic oysters like the good farmers and ranchers whose organic fertilizers and animal pathogens will find their way into this pristine national wilderness.

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6 Responses to THE STORY OF AN OYSTER FARMER VERSUS WASHINGTON INSIDERS

  1. Dave Duffin says:

    The Oyster farm is owned by someone with whom I share the Catholic Faith. At the end of the Roman Empire, Christians were sacrificed in the Coliseum because they did not accept the poly-theistic belief of the Empire.

    Fast forward 2000 years. A small business is murdered in the media by falsehoods to satisfy the New Religion of Poly-Ecology.

    Mr Lunny, a true Marin County stakeholder got the “thumbs down” from Emperor Salazar, after he heard the bloodthirsty shrieks from the environmental throng – Et Tu Brute?

  2. Dick Hingson says:

    No, this response ignores the excellent science, and legal context, and longstanding promises about fulfillment of the promise of the Wilderness Act and legislation on this thereafter. Read carefully the NPS’ carefully developed Final Environmental Impact Statement, available online through NPS, before offering up emotional non sequiturs about Catholics and the Christians in the Coliseum.

  3. Dave Duffin says:

    1. Excellent science; The NPS reports were agenda-driven and supported by local environmental groups who brought in their big brothers to support them. A FOI request to examine how the report’s data was generated was refused until Sen. Diana Feinstein intervened.
    2. Promise of the The Wilderness Act: There was never a “promise” to have the farms on Pt. Reyes revert to wilderness. Wilderness Act authors (Bagley, Burton, McCloskey) disputed any claims that the land was to become wilderness in a letter to Salazar. Their complaint letter begins
    “The Park Service’s latest falsification of SCIENCE (my caps) at Point Reyes National Seashore is the straw that breaks the camel’s back”.
    3. NPS”s Carefully developed EIR: Dr. Corey Goodman PHD, of the National Academy of Science, describes the process developed between the NPS and the environmental groups as “agenda-driven” and ” to find harm where no harm exists”. He calls this process “scientific misconduct”.
    4. Dominus vobiscum.

  4. Dave Duffin says:

    PS: The NPS spent millions trying to develop a case against the Lunny Family oyster business.

    PPS: The New Religion of Environmentalism is like the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. People who did not pass the religious litmus test were “eliminated” by beheading, hanging, burning at the stake and banishment. The last item here appears to be the preferred method of the NPS and their environmental puppet masters who pull the strings that strangle people in their way who don’t meet their effete criteria. If Karma is true, surely the people who influenced Salazar’s decision will be working in an Oyster farm in their next life – one that gets shut down!

  5. Diana Tweedy says:

    “A government watchdog group filed a lawsuit on behalf of Kevin Lunny on Monday alleging that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s decision to close Drakes Bay Oyster Company violates the United States Constitution and the American Procedure Act, and that the release of the controversial Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the oyster farm violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Data Quality Act.”

    See: http://www.ptreyeslight.com/Point_Reyes_Light/Home/Entries/2012/12/6_Ordered_to_close,_oyster_farmer_sues_federal_government.html

  6. Diana Tweedy says:

    It is all over for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company. “Tears, hugs, shucking at Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s final day open to public”. See: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Tears-hugs-oysters-at-Drakes-Bay-firm-s-final-5661233.php

    “After years of unsuccessful wrangling with the federal government, Drakes Bay Oyster Co. closed its doors to the public Thursday afternoon after an emotional oyster toast, a lone bagpiper’s rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” and plenty of hugs.”

    It wasn’t like they didn’t put up a fight. “We wrote letters, we called people, we did what we could. But it wasn’t enough to save this place,” said Hugo Phillips, a retired engineer from San Rafael who’s been buying Drakes Bay oysters for 40 years.

    “Drakes Bay provides about 80 percent of the Bay Area’s oysters and about 35 percent statewide.”

    “Kevin Lunny, the owner, was tearful but resigned Thursday as he hugged countless well-wishers and tried to make sense of the political dealings that forced him to close his successful business.”

    “This is not environmentalists versus ranchers,” he said. “This is 90 percent of the Bay Area versus a few extreme hands-off preservationists who found an agency willing to listen to them.” OHV recreations enthusiasts know how that works in California. Just call it a preserve, a sanctuary or a wilderness area and the extremists get all bleary eyed and self righteous. So sorry to see you go.

    Thirty employees will lose their jobs and homes because they live on-site.

    “Perhaps no one was more upset than Jorge Mata, who had worked and lived at Drakes Bay for 30 years. Lunny said Mata knows Drakes Estero like “the back of his hand” and has been integral to the firm’s success.

    Mata gave a brief toast in Spanish and then quietly mingled with his co-workers before going back to work. When asked how he felt, he looked away and said, “So sad.”

    His colleague Nellie Gamez, a 22-year Drakes Bay employee, said she, Mata and other employees have no idea where they’re headed next.

    “Our heart is here. Our kids grew up here,” she said, wiping tears. “It’s hard. It’s really hard.”

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