11.29.2012 - CNPSR Backs Secretary of the Interior's Decision on Point Reyes Oyster Farm
November 29, 2012; Washington, D.C. The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) today praised Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s decision to not renew the permit to allow an oyster farm in Point Reyes National Park to continue to operate inside designated wilderness.
Coalition chair Maureen Finnerty said, “This decision is a clear affirmation that decisions within the areas of the National Park System must be based on accurate fidelity to the law, the best available sound science and scholarship, and in the long term public interest. Secretary Salazar has clearly placed resources stewardship ahead of the narrow commercial interests of the farm’s operator. This is a win-win for the American people."
When the Congress designated Drakes Estero a Wilderness Area in 1976, Congress allowed an existing oyster company to grow non-native oysters until its lease expired on Nov. 30, 2012. The current owner of the oyster farm bought it from its previous owner in 2005 with the clear understanding that its occupancy permit would expire in 2012. He tried to apply political pressure to the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department to extend the permit, claiming that his operation was not harmful to the resources of the park. The public does not agree. 92% of the more than 52,000 public comments received during the comment period of the NPS’ last Environmental Impact Statement on the Drakes Bay Special Use Permit favored full wilderness protection for the area and a termination of the lease.
By denying the permit extension, Secretary Salazar is acting in the public interest and carrying out his responsibilities as defined in the 1916 NPS Organic Act, the 1964 Wilderness Act, and the 2006 NPS Management Policies. CNPSR Executive Council member Rick Smith said, “The oyster farm has a long history of violating the environmental regulations of the California Coastal Commission and the NPS. It also has been operating without federal permits required to protect navigable waters. The NPS is charged with operating areas of the National Park System in ways that are not in derogation of the values and resources for which the area was established. Secretary Salazar’s decision will allow the NPS to more faithfully carry out this mission. We applaud his decision."