Decision on Oyster Farm’s Permit Expected by Friday

Do you think the Point Reyes-based Drake's Bay Oyster Company should be allowed to continue operating? Tell us in the comments.


U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to decide by Friday the fate of the Drake's Bay Oyster Co. at Drakes Estero.

The company, run by rancher Kevin Lunny, is seeking a 10-year extension of its current 40-year special use permit to harvest oysters. The permit expires Nov. 30, and Salazar toured the oyster farm last Wednesday.

Salazar also met with National Park Service officials and some environmentalists who oppose extending the permit in order to protect the wilderness in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

A 500-page final environmental impact report was released earlier this month that listed four options -- ceasing the oyster company's authorization to operate and three alternatives that extend the permit, each with various conditions and exceptions.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein favors extending the permit, and legislation she authored in 2009 gave Salazar the option to do so.

The Inverness-based company issued a voluntary recall in August after it was linked to an outbreak of bacterial illness that affected three people. 

- Bay City News Service

Spirit November 28, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Yes of Course they should be able to continue to be able to operate. I don't think much of the Park Service and how they orchestrate their flawed science to do what they want. I will never recover fully from the slaughter of the white deer that was done so senselessly nor will I ever join the Sierra Club after Gordon B worked against the deer and now the oysters . (Plus then gets busted for building without permit they say in the grapevine) Give me a break..let the oysters stay
Michael Reyff November 28, 2012 at 02:08 AM
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company should be allowed to continue to operate. This is an organic renewable food source that operates in harmony with nature. I will be furious and have another reason to be absolutely disgusted at our failed government if the DOI refuses to renew their lease. I have signed petitions and written letters in support of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company over the last couple of years.
Tina McMillan November 28, 2012 at 02:34 AM
Please sign the petition indicating support for Drake's Bay. There are still more signatures needed. http://www.oysterguide.com/new-discoveries/last-chance-to-save-drakes-bay-oyster-farm/
Richard Thomas November 28, 2012 at 04:29 AM
This is what happens when the Feds or Big PARKS people enter an area that was working just fine. "Can't we just all get along?" Soon the cows will be wearing diapers! RT
Jeffrey Gimzek November 28, 2012 at 05:48 AM
Signed and shared!
Jeffrey Gimzek November 28, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Of course they should be allowed to continue! It's the absolute best kind of industry there is - ultra low impact and local. "cost of environmental impacts" - idiocy! This isn't the 70s. There is only ONE environmental issue now: Global climate change, and it is going to put the entire Drakes Bay and Tomales area underwater in another 100 years. Why don't we renew the lease now, then waste another $5 million dollars on another review in 25 years and see if they are still in business or if the warmer water has killed all their oysters?
Victoria Hanson November 28, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Sorry, Michael Reyff, about your fury, but even though there's no such thing as 'organic oysters' we can 'all get along' and celebrate that the Pastoral Zone is working as well as ever, thanks to the great work of people in our community who worked their tails off to get taxpayers money from the Big Bad Feds to buy the land before developers turned it into Malibu North. If only such passion could fuel productive solutions to current threats to unprotected local lands. Namaste.
Tina McMillan November 28, 2012 at 08:13 AM
Victoria: "or·gan·ic (ôr-gnk) adj. 1. Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms: organic matter. 2. Of, relating to, or affecting a bodily organ: an organic disease. 3. a. Of, marked by, or involving the use of fertilizers or pesticides that are strictly of animal or vegetable origin: organic vegetables; an organic farm. b. Raised or conducted without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals: organic chicken; organic cattle farming. c. Serving organic food: an organic restaurant. d. Simple, healthful, and close to nature: an organic lifestyle." Using the above reference Michael's comment refers to the fact that these oysters are being raised as part of a sustainable habitat that is not contaminated with synthetic chemicals, hormones or drugs. No one is suggesting that Pt Reyes should be turned into Malibu. Unfortunately when you're comments refer to extremes that have little to do with the topic at hand it is difficult to understand your point. Are you saying the oyster farm is not organic, sustainable and an integral part of the the surrounding habitat? For anyone interested in reading more about Drake's Bay here is a link: http://www.drakesbayoyster.com/visitors/
Sarah Rolph November 28, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Yes, the oyster farm should definitely be allowed to stay. There is no good data suggesting any harm to the environment, and lots of good data showing benefits to the environment (oysters, being filter-feeders, clean the water--this is why they are being reintroduced in SF Bay, Chesapeake Bay, etc.). The oyster farm supports the local economy. Thirty families rely on their longstanding employment there--many of these oyster workers have been there for decades. DBOC produces at least 50 percent of the local oysters, and they are particularly good ones--award-winning oysters. This is the result of good stewardship. It is nonsensical to imagine that the Lunnys, third-generation Point Reyes ranchers, would be anything but a great steward of the land and the water. Their livelihoods depend on this! The oyster farm is an educational destination and a wonderful source of sustainable local food. It is one of the fun, interesting aspects of visiting Point Reyes National Seashore. It would be a shame if it were removed.
virginia stella November 28, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I enjoy visiting, sketching, buying and eating the oysters from this farm. I hope they will be permitted to continue operation. V.Stella
Victoria Hanson November 28, 2012 at 05:17 PM
With respect, Tina, diluting use of the USDA certified meaning of the term organic is a disservice to everyone - it undermines trust and depletes value of products from those who struggle to comply with strict organic guidelines we depend on for food integrity. Your definition is a form of GreenWashing. In fact, a key reason why US shellfish is barred from the EU is due to our low standards. I'm sorry if my comment is hard to understand - I refer to the history, not that long ago for those of us over 50. If Boyd and Joseffa Stewart, the Heim family, and so many others had not galvanized intense local support and pressed Nixon for funding, this area would have fallen to development pressures. My Malibu example is optimistic - it could have looked like Daly City. It is easy to denigrate The Park and The Feds, but our County leaders called them in to rescue this land in the 1960's and 1970's and now have tossed this hot potato out of local control - into Senator Feinstein's and Secretary Salazar's lap. A poor choice of hypocritical and cowardly 'leadership' in my opinion. Further, you might wish to investigate how oyster larvae are produced - there are plenty of chemicals including cytocolasin B which causes birth defects like spina bifuda, used to create the genetically engineered triploids which have been used by the Lunny's in Drakes Estero, as well as other growers. How widespread this is remains a shadowy topic because the industry rightfully fears consumer backlash.
Mike Van Horn November 28, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Wait, folks. Don't we agree that government bureaucrats, goaded by tiny groups with strong views, should be able to force any long-time family business to cease operations? It's the American way! Or becoming so.
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:15 PM
1. bacterial illness 2. sickened people 3. recall Three strikes and yeeeeeeeeee're OUT, Drakes Bay. Adios, so long, ain't no way I'm supportin' a recallin', sickenin', ilnessin' company.
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:16 PM
If the American way is protecting us from a product that is linked to bacterial illness, a recall and sickened people, ABSOLUTELY! I am glad that my government cares enough to protect me 'n my fam from a company that spreads disease.
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Oyster larvae ... YUK.
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:18 PM
If the oysters are being reintroduced into SF Bay and Chesapeake Bay, then we certainly don't need them in Drakes Bay! Redundant much?
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:41 PM
No thank you, I will not sign the petition for Drak'e's Bay. But I'll ask my roommate to do it.
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Maybe it's time to see what else can come of Drake's Bay. Some, clearly, have enjoyed the bacteria-riddled oysters ... but does the rancher have the universal hold on this Bay for forever and ever? Give somebody else a chance. It's like hogging the tether ball on the playground.
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:53 PM
VERY well said, Victoria! I seriously question the notion of "organic oysters."
Betty Pancakes November 28, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Virginia, you could still probably enjoy visiting and sketching the area even if the petition is denied, so if that's your only reason for wanting to sign it, I might reconsider!
Victoria Hanson November 28, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Hey Mike, isn't your hyperbole flipped? What long-term business will cease? DBOC is only 7years old. The Lunny's other businesses will persist. Maybe you celebrate Marin County's failure to reign in Johnson's toxic violations. That's a proud legacy - let sewage flow! Don't worry, some violations from 1989 STILL persist & DBOC has added even more - the legal cannery Johnson had in Santa Rosa they closed - snuck it into a trailer plus set up heated seed tanks onshore against Superior Court orders they committed to. Totally sustainable, by definition. Here's a hint - anyone can do the same: If you get caught in permit violations, force the County to sue you. After you lose, sign a Stipulated Agreement promising whatever it takes; then you can sell the property to sharp operators like the Lunnys and Poof - it's all unenforceable! Maybe that's the American way (or becoming so). Seriously, either we all are bound by the same rules, or we support special treatment for those with wealth and power. Why should everyone else have to pay and suffer through permit rules, when the Lunny's get such passionate support for violating them? I guess special treatment for some, like heirs of 1850's families, is inevitable among those smitten by the 'romance of lost innocence that once was West Marin'. But the Lunny's are not among that select pantheon - they began renting land in 1947. Their well-heeled patriarch never chose to purchase the land, although he certainly had the funds.
tony masi November 29, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Betty Piddy Patty, I don't care if I agree or disagree with you 'cause you are one heck of an entertaining hoot! And by the by, totally serious is just some star in outer space that woofs like a dog.
Betty Pancakes November 29, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Well, paint my front door red and call me Elizabeth Arden, I'm most flattered by the 'ol compliment-o, Tony Masi. Funny enough you should mention stars in the sky cuz I was thinkin' 'bout ordering one for Christmas-time. They make great gifts, or so the infomercial says ...
T McDermott November 29, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Sustainable farming on land is aplauded, in the ocean? I think they should stay. There is no difference between a leaking septic in Petaluma, Napa or on a houseboat in Richardsons Bay (Sausalito). Things happen get old and fail but they get fixed and are better for it. The Oyster company is a business that has a great following with a consistant product. They should stay, there are miles and miles and miles of coastline, unspoiled and wild. Hey does Sea Ranch have septic or their own treatment plant? Or just enough money?
Victoria Hanson November 29, 2012 at 02:49 AM
No doubt about the 'great following' T, but funny you should mention 'consistent product'. I spoke with the Petaluma seafood manager for WholeFoods, he said they've discontinued carrying DBOC for more than a year now, due to 'inconsistency'. That was even before the vibrio attack that sickened several customers. Guess it all depends on what your standards are. Toxic schmoxic, right? Biotoxin accumulators are not my cup of tea, but for friends I value, I direct them to Hog Island, where conscientious marine biologists minimize risks with depuration tanks. Enjoy your fantasies with my blessing. Not sure what your distant septic references mean, but while you're up to SeaRanch, why not check out the gazillion acres of prime oyster tidelands in Humboldt Bay. That water's so clean it's certified for seed export. There even the largest corporate grower, Coast Oyster (70% of CA's product) recognizes the benefits of responsible practices. Instead of wasting 7years and millions on a futile fight, they bit the bullet (after some kicking and screaming) and retooled completely. That's what it means to 'fix old failed stuff for the better'. If you're satisfied with empty slogans, then 'sustainable stewardship' is just terrific for feel-good PR-BS.
Doug Shader November 30, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Once again the Fed's have lost their minds. 99% of the people support letting Drake's oyster co. stay and it defies logic that they are being shut down. Doug Shader
Pamela Herzog November 30, 2012 at 03:13 AM
I am furious at what happened here today ...... My husband worked on a documentary about the family, their business and its history ...... after watching it I feel a great loss and sadness for the family and the displaced employees many who lived in homes on the property. Thank you Obama and our goverment for closing down a local, organic, small family owned business with now 30 employees displaced and out of work! What a way to help our economy. It is a sign of the times now that we have Obama for another 4 years. Happy Holidays and have a Merry Christmas.
Tina McMillan November 30, 2012 at 04:31 AM
So little about this decision makes any sense at all. Soon we will only be able to look at open space from a computer.


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