Local ranchers worry that ruling against the Lunnys could open the door for the federal government to further regulate land in the name of conservation, land that the ranchers need for their livelihoods. Even though Salazar explicitly extended ranch leases for 20 years in his decision — writing that "these working ranches are a vibrant and compatible part of Point Reyes National Seashore" — many worry that the National Park Service could regulate their land to the point where it becomes impossible to make a profit.

"Ultimately the more regulations and restrictions you have on a piece of land, it devalues the potential," says John Taylor, a seventh-generation Marin dairy farmer and owner of the organic Bivalve Dairy. He mentions the layers of bureaucracy that a rancher has to go through now to make changes to the property — things he's working through now as he expands production: buffer zones, building restrictions, permit approvals, and other complications that he's worried the government could expand.

And the future of the park's unique relationship between farmers and the government depends on the continuing commercial viability of these small farms. To Stanford's White, the main danger to the park is that that these ranching families will have trouble convincing younger generations to stick around. "Small dairy farms are under tremendous economic pressures. And it's really hard work ... Maintaining these farms as viable economic enterprises seems to be to be the real challenge to the park," he says.

Photograph by Josh Edelson
Drakes Bay Oyster Company owner Kevin Lunny donates old oyster shells to restoration projects and uses them in organic compost he sells at his quarry.
Photograph by Josh Edelson
Drakes Bay Oyster Company owner Kevin Lunny donates old oyster shells to restoration projects and uses them in organic compost he sells at his quarry.

Meanwhile, Point Reyes National Seashore continues to greet 2.6 million visitors per year — driving on its roads, kayaking on its waters, walking on its footpaths, reading its interpretive signs. Nature is something we work with and engineer on large and small levels on every acre of this country, but the fight over the best use for Drakes Estero has suggested that the old concepts of environment, wilderness, and land stewardship need to shift to accommodate our changing definitions of sustainability and agriculture.

"Wilderness is not necessarily something that looks back, it looks forward," says White. Government-designated wilderness is about preserving something for the future, not trying to reclaim the past, and it can require tough decisions. "To preserve one thing you very often have to eradicate something else," he says.

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14 comments
carrie
carrie

Once again, we are getting it wrong here. This is not about environmentalism and sustainable agriculture coexisting. This is about whether or not private, commercial industry can operate in designated wilderness. If letting what one so called sustainable farm (which I question from its numerous infractions and debris violations) run among a wilderness area just because some claim it's "greener" (or what they are really saying, better for the world than oil and gas), than who is to stop oil and gas private industry run among wilderness areas because they say it is in the best public interest? We live in America here folks. If one private business gets to do it (small, sustainable, or not), others will get to do it. Some areas, ans SO few they are, need to be left alone. Carrie, sustainable farm owner and farmer on private land AND environmental advocate for the conservation of public wilderness.

putitupmlk
putitupmlk

I disagree with the comment, "bitterly divided the liberal, eco-friendly community of the Bay Area. Environmentalists fear that a decision in favor of the oyster farm could set a precedent to open up protected wilderness lands to private interests pursuing fracking, offshore oil drilling, and other shadowy, anti-nature plots".  These folks know better, tehy understand that there will never be "other" corporate interests in the Estuary.  They are just pissy perfection seekers aptly described in another post here as NIMBY'ers.  

The DBOC is a perfect model of what we want... a balance of the environment and business.  sustainable, local, prone to doing great things.  But wait!  Maybe we can grow Oysters in Detroit where unemployment is really high, or let Montsano put some Farm Pits in the desert somewhere...  This is really just the insane attempting to control everything, and it's gotta stop.

milener
milener

If Drakes Bay Oyster Co is not doing anything egregious, I say let them stay *open*.  It's a great recreational resource for SF Bay community and gives us a reason to go enjoy that area.  I am a long time supporter of environmental causes, including National parks and Wildlife funds.  BUT I would bet that the surrounding towns, roads and businesses inadvertently put 100 times more toxic effluent into Drakes Bay/Estero than does Drakes Bay Oysters.  Are you going to tear down all those old houses near the Oyster Farm too?

metaskeptik
metaskeptik

Why don't we call this what it is, a simple (feeble) attempt to not call this NIMBYism.  Much like people driving their cars to an Iraq war protest, any "good cause" remains good until it affects one's lifestyle.  It's hypocritical BS to say that we need to redefine environmentalism when it doesn't suit one's ends. 

emmaskin
emmaskin

The Drakes Oyster company simply is not natural, no matter how they twist their story.   Our family are 3rd generation Marin and Sonoma residents, we want our shoreline put back the way it was created originally!

They have sucked out every dollar that they could and now it is time to go.   We would like to say Good Bye & Good riddance to the shuckers & jivers,  the sooner the better.

jane222
jane222

Journalism is supposed to be the first draft of history, not the first rewrite of press releases and sound bites. In recent weeks, some journalists reporting on the Estero controversy say ‘they would not touch the science,” not realizing the irony that they are essentially saying they are reporting without knowledge. The word ‘science’ itself comes from the Latin scientia, ”to know.”

To report on scientific issues, it is not necessary for reporters to ‘do’ science. For example, to return to the issue of sound as a major impact in the Estero: when the NPS and its EIS consultant substitute the sound of a high- powered jet ski for a small four stroke outboard–as National Park Service did in preparing the Environmental Impact Statement–and claim the Estero is damaged by the sound, it raises issues that can only be answered by the basic journalism questions, Who? What? When? Where? Why?

The standard for journalistic coverage of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company controversy seems to be based on guilt by six degrees of separation. The bulk of the recent reporting on the ‘ right wing conspiracy to destroy the wilderness act’  claim against DBOC is based solely on the fact that one attorney representing DBOC’s Kevin Lunny is a Republican who worked in Washington for a few months for a charity funded by right-wing interests.

By these standards, we assume that if the oyster-farm opponents report to the press that a lawyer supporting DBOC had defended an arsonist, this would be proof that Kevin Lunny, the DBOC owner, is burning down the Estero.  Much of the general press has shown an equal lack of standards in the other allegations against DBOC, with no real investigation, relying instead on unsubstantiated claims in the press releases of oyster-farm opponents, the latest of which is merely the last in a long line of attempts by National Park Service and its supporters to smear the Lunny family and present them as some sort of environmental criminals.

The press has no excuse for this type of journalism, which merely restates claims from anti-oyster-farm press releases without even the most basic fact checking. There is a marvelous expression in the British press, ‘Churnalism,’ which aptly describes much of the press and TV coverage, e.g. the regurgitation of recent press releases from Amy Trainer of West Marin Environmental Action Committee and the PBS Newshour report, “Strange Bedfellows Join Fight to Keep Oyster Farm in Operation.” There is simply no excuse for this type of inept and biased reporting.

Minimal research uncovers the facts. Both the National Academy of Science study (which found NPS had misrepresented the science), and the Marine Mammal Committee report (whose experts found no incompatibility with oyster operations and the seal population), have summaries and complete lists of all documents on their website. These including letters from the oyster-farm opponents and supporters.  Likewise, the response to the draft EIS contains statements from National Marine Fisheries, Cal Fish and Game that conflict directly with the allegations of the oyster-farm opponents.

Small local papers like the Russian River Times report stories that impact their communities, often over several years, while the larger press tends to only pick up on the sensational, often from unsubstantiated press releases and statements from advocacy groups. The truth is that NPS and its allies have conducted a long national campaign to portray the Lunnys as environmental criminals, damaging wilderness for personal gain. Locally, the Lunnys are known as a third-generation ranching family, well respected as responsible stewards and valued members of the community. Examples include their assistance with grazing research to support rangeland carbon sequestration, supporting shellfish restoration in San Francisco Bay, local composting projects, and working with endangered species restoration.

Ironically, the NPS also celebrated the Lunny’s contributions in a 2007 publication about stewardship in National Parks entitled, ‘Stewardship Begins with People.’ Page 45 shows a photo of Kevin Lunny and Seashore rancher David Evans and the statement that ”…both have been recognized for their environmental stewardship and innovation.”  In a currently available on-line version of this NPS document, Lunny has been literally airbrushed out.  He was made to disappear!  What is disturbing is that the Lunny’s environmental stewardship is ignored in most of the press coverage where NPS and its allies have attempted to destroy the Lunny’s reputation for stewardship. Not five months after the publication date back in 2007, Point Reyes Seashore Superintendent Don Neubacher told Marin County Supervisors that Lunny was an environmental criminal.

From www.russianrivertimes.wordpress.com 05-14-2013

jane222
jane222

Journalism is supposed to be the first draft of history, not the first rewrite of press releases and sound bites. In recent weeks, some journalists reporting on the Estero controversy say ‘they would not touch the science,” not realizing the irony that they are essentially saying they are reporting without knowledge. The word ‘science’ itself comes from the Latin scientia, ”to know.”

To report on scientific issues, it is not necessary for reporters to ‘do’ science. For example, to return to the issue of sound as a major impact in the Estero: when the NPS and its EIS consultant substitute the sound of a high- powered jet ski for a small four stroke outboard–as National Park Service did in preparing the Environmental Impact Statement–and claim the Estero is damaged by the sound, it raises issues that can only be answered by the basic journalism questions, Who? What? When? Where? Why?

The standard for journalistic coverage of the Drake’s Bay Oyster Company controversy seems to be based on guilt by six degrees of separation. The bulk of the recent reporting on the ‘ right wing conspiracy to destroy the wilderness act’  claim against DBOC is based solely on the fact that one attorney representing DBOC’s Kevin Lunny is a Republican who worked in Washington for a few months for a charity funded by right-wing interests.

By these standards, we assume that if the oyster-farm opponents report to the press that a lawyer supporting DBOC had defended an arsonist, this would be proof that Kevin Lunny, the DBOC owner, is burning down the Estero.  Much of the general press has shown an equal lack of standards in the other allegations against DBOC, with no real investigation, relying instead on unsubstantiated claims in the press releases of oyster-farm opponents, the latest of which is merely the last in a long line of attempts by National Park Service and its supporters to smear the Lunny family and present them as some sort of environmental criminals.

The press has no excuse for this type of journalism, which merely restates claims from anti-oyster-farm press releases without even the most basic fact checking. There is a marvelous expression in the British press, ‘Churnalism,’ which aptly describes much of the press and TV coverage, e.g. the regurgitation of recent press releases from Amy Trainer of West Marin Environmental Action Committee and the PBS Newshour report, “Strange Bedfellows Join Fight to Keep Oyster Farm in Operation.” There is simply no excuse for this type of inept and biased reporting.

Minimal research uncovers the facts. Both the National Academy of Science study (which found NPS had misrepresented the science), and the Marine Mammal Committee report (whose experts found no incompatibility with oyster operations and the seal population), have summaries and complete lists of all documents on their website. These including letters from the oyster-farm opponents and supporters.  Likewise, the response to the draft EIS contains statements from National Marine Fisheries, Cal Fish and Game that conflict directly with the allegations of the oyster-farm opponents.

Small local papers like the Russian River Times report stories that impact their communities, often over several years, while the larger press tends to only pick up on the sensational, often from unsubstantiated press releases and statements from advocacy groups. The truth is that NPS and its allies have conducted a long national campaign to portray the Lunnys as environmental criminals, damaging wilderness for personal gain. Locally, the Lunnys are known as a third-generation ranching family, well respected as responsible stewards and valued members of the community. Examples include their assistance with grazing research to support rangeland carbon sequestration, supporting shellfish restoration in San Francisco Bay, local composting projects, and working with endangered species restoration.

Ironically, the NPS also celebrated the Lunny’s contributions in a 2007 publication about stewardship in National Parks entitled, ‘Stewardship Begins with People.’ Page 45 shows a photo of Kevin Lunny and Seashore rancher David Evans and the statement that ”…both have been recognized for their environmental stewardship and innovation.”  In a currently available on-line version of this NPS document, Lunny has been literally airbrushed out.  He was made to disappear!  What is disturbing is that the Lunny’s environmental stewardship is ignored in most of the press coverage where NPS and its allies have attempted to destroy the Lunny’s reputation for stewardship. Not five months after the publication date back in 2007, Point Reyes Seashore Superintendent Don Neubacher told Marin County Supervisors that Lunny was an environmental criminal.

s.wordpress.com 05-14-2013

joethepimpernel
joethepimpernel

You people just don't get it.

ALL property belongs to the US feral government and future global government.

They will let you keep yours for a while longer, but eventually they'll get around to yours, too.

UN Agenda 21 is breathing down your necks and you're too distracted by gay marriage and free contraception to notice.

awayneramsey
awayneramsey topcommenter

To me, it is a priori that “... environmental preservation and sustainable food production can co-exist,” only if public policy is effective and commensurate with aggressive industry regulation.

putitupmlk
putitupmlk

@emmaskinPerhaps you would forward the name and location of a "natural" business.  Just wondering, where did the anger of your comment..."sucked out every dollar that they could and now it is time to go" come from?  Evidently anything yo do not like is, bad. 

patnlisa
patnlisa

@emmaskin What a ridiculous statement, was your house part of the original environmental design. I didn't think so. Tear it down. What about all the land that has been paved over so you can drive your toxic fume spewing SUV to Safeway and back.

putitupmlk
putitupmlk

@jane222   VEry nicely thought our and wonderfully presented.  thank you!

 
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