National Park Service Enjoined By Court From Forcing Oyster Farm Out Of Point Reyes National Seashore

An oyster company's legal battle to continue operations in Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore will continue into the spring following an appellate court's ruling. NPS photo of Drakes Estero.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the National Park Service from forcing an oyster farm out of Point Reyes National Seashore and scheduled a hearing on the dispute for May.

In a terse order filed Monday, the appellate court granted the request for an emergency injunction from the Drakes Bay Oyster Co., whose lease to operate in the national seashore's waters expired in November. The appellate court was asked to consider the motion after a lower court denied the same request.

"Appellants’ emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal is granted, because there are serious legal questions and the balance of hardships tips sharply in appellants’ favor," the order read.

On February 4, a U.S. District Court judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have allowed the oyster farm to continue operations in Drakes Estero while its owner, Kevin Lunny, pursued a lawsuit against the federal government.

In seeking the TRO, the company's lawyers argued that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar broke the Administrative Procedures Act and violated the National Environmental Policy Act when he decided last November not to extend the lease for 10 years. In denying the lease extension, the Interior secretary cited the value of wilderness and congressional intent. On the very next day, Park Service Director Jon Jarvis declared the estero part of the Philip Burton Wilderness at the Seashore, effective December 4.

In her ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers held that she had no jurisdiction to rule on whether the Interior secretary broke the APA, and even if she did, Mr. Lunny did not prove that Secretary Salazar acted arbitrary or capricious, or abused his discretion, in his decision.

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. also is facing a cease-and-desist order handed it by the California Coastal Commission last month. That order cited unpermitted operations in the seashore's waters by the oyster company, land alterations, debris from the farming operations, violations of previous cease-and-desist orders, and company boats operating in waters that were supposed to be closed to traffic due to harbor seal pupping.

Comments

This is fascinating. The noose is clearly around the oyster farm's neck. I see the farm going bankrupt and the NPS paying for the farm removal. I wonder if the farm had to post a bond to remove everything.

It is fascinating. The noose is indeed tightening. I think I'll root for the underdog. I wish the oyster company well in a battle with an over-reaching government agency.

Mike, I just don't follow your claim about an over-reaching federal agency. Congress decided nearly 40 years ago that this area would be preserved as wilderness. For all the American people, and those yet to come. Now, I could see your point if this was an inholding owned by the oyster farm and the government was trying to take it over, but that's not the case at all.


Congress decided nearly 40 years ago that this area would be preserved as wilderness.


But as the bill's sponsors have testified, it was not their intent to eliminate the oyster farm. It would appear that the agency indeed has reached farther than was intended.

If it wasn't their intent, they should have raised that issue as the bill made its way through the congressional meat-grinder. If they weren't happy with the way the wilderness act was approved by Congress in 1976, I think it was, why didn't they move to amend it?

If you can cite exactly where the over-reach occurred, I'd definitely like to see it. Unfortunately for the oyster company, at this point the record fully supports the wilderness designation.

While I try to avoid emotional arguments in these posts, this time I'll make an exception. I think the Oyster Farm provides value to the area, is compatable with most NPS objectives, perpetuates a lifestyle rarely seen in America today, has been a good steward during their operations, adds diversity and interest to the NPS site, provides a quality product under private enterprise that is valued by it's customers, etc. I could go on and on and on but won't.

I do intend to use the liberal strategy of expressing my opinion without any supporting facts or providing any supporting documentation when requested by others.

After reading some of the tripe presented here as arguments in support of the NPS and their actions by people like Lee, PJ or Rick B I don't think that is too much to ask. I will not however, stoop to calling anyone a liar, dupe for industry (or the NPS), traitor or any of the other pejoratives used by frequent liberal commentators. I will also try not to use the 'completely unrelated straw man' arguments others seem to enjoy.

I enjoy this site and it's stories but do wish we had a higher caliber of expression of opinions...principally by liberals but occasionally the other side slips up as well... none of us are perfect, but of course, all of us can improve our efforts.

Mike, you raise some good points, but when do we decide we'll agree with and follow congressional actions, and when do we decide we don't like their decisions and so the heck with them? That's a key question in this matter.

That said, I disagree with your pejorative slant to "liberal." That's way too broad of a brush. I do agree with your distaste for some of the tripe in recent days, from both political persuasions, and have deleted some comments that went too far.

We are working on a way to resolve that flow if those who comment can't constrain themselves. Like you, I wish there was a more regular high-road approach to these discussions. Opinions are fine, supporting documentation even better, but when folks get down in the gutter and start tossing mud and worse, it reflects badly not just on themselves, but on the Traveler itself, I'm afraid to say.

There actually was one comment to me off-site the other day about "the trolls on (the site are vicious and everywhere."

Folks who might offer some of that high-brow thought you desire are leery of commenting because they fear they'll unjustly be attacked or the thread will be hijacked. That's not what the Traveler is about.

As I've long said, we welcome discussion from all points of view as long as it's constructive and without brick throwing -- and that applies to liberals, conservatives, and every other segment of society. Put another way, don't write something that you wouldn't tell someone face-to-face over dinner.

Nice reply Kurt. My brush may be too broad. Maybe.

I haven't been watching this site that long but what really bothers me is that some of the absolute worst offenders that I see are some of those who post your stories. Start there with some sort of corrective action, please.

I agree that 'the trolls are vicious'. I hope i ain't one of them and don't think I am....

This site has some great stories, as I said, I enjoy it. It can be used for constructive argument by all sides as you say. Maybe if we can minimize some of the 'crap' that gets posted a higher caliber of commenters will appear....

BTW, I don't wish a highbrow type of discussion necessarily, but I do wish for one where people are courteous, honest and as you have said, don't write something they won't tell someone to their face.

Thanks for all you do. I realize with a bunch of unidentified commenters it probably ain't easy.

I'd like to add to my previous comment... the attached is a valuable trait, commonly shortsighted by both sides in our hyper-charged political environment. I'd like to suggest that we all consider this in both our comments and our responses to others.....


Open mindedness is when even if you think you are right, you know that you can be wrong and are always willing to listen to and hear an opposing or contradictory view.

Open minded people have views but know that their views do not have to be held by everyone. Open minded people also know that their views can be wrong.

From: The Urban Dictionary.

Kurt and Mike G...Very nice comments.I agree the comments should be constructive and helpful.

In this issue I feel the land owner should be able to not renew a lease if they so choose as long as they give the tennant adiquate notice. (which was done long ago). I would hate to be a landlord and have the tennant tell me I have to continue a lease until they are ready to leave.

I worked for the NPS at Point Reyes as a plant ecologist from 1998 to 2002. At that time, the oyster farm was under different ownership and the operation created a lot of environmental impacts--sewage treatment problems, disturbance to wildlife, disturbance to rare plants, etc. I haven't been there since the Lunny's took over, but the Coastal Commission's cease and desist order indicates there are still problems. The Lunny's knew the lease for the oyster farm was due to expire, yet they bought it anyway, probably figuring they had enough political clout to keep the operation open. Putting the legal arguments aside for the moment, I think this really comes down to deciding whether the best and highest use of this land is for food production and modest economic gain, or wilderness, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation. Based on the high quality of this coastal habitat, I vote for the latter. There are other places to farm oysters.

Barbara, what other places do you have in mind to farm oysters? I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess there aren't any. If there were, Lunny would have moved in rather than getting into this mess.

For me, the issue is what kind of wilderness do we want? One that's a living museum where humans come in on the w-e, gawk at for a few minutes and leave, or one where humans work and live in harmony with nature. I like the latter better. The idea of a wilderness where humans don't belong is a farce and one that never really existed until 1964.

Barbara's comment above cuts to the heart of this whole debate:

"The Lunny's knew the lease for the oyster farm was due to expire, yet they bought it anyway, probably figuring they had enough political clout to keep the operation open."

What makes you think they were relying on political clout? Who did they supposedly have clout with?

I think more likely the were relying on the fact it was "potential wilderness" and that the lease could have been renewed and kept as "potential wilderness" as has occurred in other potential wilderness areas and they were relying on the language of the act itself:


In section 6(a) insert iinmediately after the words “shall be admin-
istered by the Secretary,“ the words “without impairment of its
natural values, in a manner which provides for such recreational, edu-
cational, historic preservation, interpretation, and scientific research
opportunities as are consistent with, based upon. and supportive of
the maximum protection, restoration,and preservation of the natural
environment within the area,”.


Given that the oyster farming has been going on more than 100 years in this Bay and predates the Wilderness Act by a half century I certainly believe it is historic and deserves preservation.

I normally don't weigh in on these discussions, but I'll make an exception. If this isn't political clout, I don't know what is...

http://www.wildernesswatch.org/newsroom/guardian/Oyster_Madness.html

Did he have a relationship with Fienstien before he bought? Was that the basis of his purchase? There is nothing to indicate that here.

A large part of any politicians job is to lobby for his constitants interests. Sen Fienstein has done that. It does not follow that she was 'bought' or in any other way acted improperly. she simply responded to her voter's concern. Like all politicians do. A substantial number of jobs were at stake in a state with some of the highest unemployment in the country. Come to think of it, maybe the same applies to the other parties politicians.... maybe they're not all bought either. Possible?

Exactly Mike.

I am no fan of Fienstein but i see no evidence here that Lundy had any strong political connections with her (or anyone else) prior to his purchase or that he was counting on political connections to get the lease extended. As to "bought", I searched Fiensteins political donor list for all her Senate campaigns and neither Lundy nor Drakes Bay Oyster Co shows up.

But as we have frequently seen here before the lack of evidence stop people from fabricating quotes and making baseless accusations to try to support their argument.

ec, re lack of evidence and baseless accusations, time and again over the years of this matter I've pointed out and linked to documents that cite the exact details of the oyster company's lease with the NPS, the documents that point to congressional intent to have the estero designated wilderness, and the court's agreement that the Lunnys were informed by the Park Service prior to their purchase of the oyster farm, and after the purchase, that the lease ended in November 2012. What else would you like?

In the meantime, if you can document the over-reach that you believe the Park Service has performed, I'd love to see it. The record that has surfaced certainly seems to support the removal of the oyster farm.

Kurt, the baseless accusations were regarding the claim that Lundy expected to use political connections to extend the lease. There has been no evidence provided here that this is fact.

As to over reach, as I already indicated i dont believe there was a necessity to not extend the lease, the intent of the bills authors were not to evict the operations and the Acts own words discuss historic preservation. When i say over reach, i am not saying they exceeded their authority, I think they exceeded good judgement.

Politics play a role in just about everything, these days, EC. Pro bono support by Washington lobbyists, law firms, and scientists doesn't raise your eyebrows, not to mention that of a very prominent U.S senator? I wish I could summon that.

Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times had a very interesting overview of this matter that you might find interesting:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-oysters-20130224,0,1107064.story

Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the federal government has extended generous subsidies to the Lunny family for decades. The extended family has leased more than 1,100 acres, where it raises cattle within the park. The grazing rate Lunny and other ranchers pay is about one-third the amount ranchers are charged on adjacent private land.

The Lunnys' lease includes a three-bedroom house, a second residence and a bunkhouse, all owned by the federal government but leased by the family. Lunny pays $2,200 a month for the 1,100 acres and the buildings — about what renters nearby pay to lease a single-family house on a small plot of private land.

The Park Service, under political pressure to help Lunny, recently spent $50,000 to replace the roofs on two of the family's leased buildings. Other federal seashore tenants are required to pay for their own home maintenance.

Sure sounds as if the family is connected in some way, no?

Make no mistake, the Park Service didn't handle this matter very well at times. But it has followed the path set down by Congress.

Kurt, you need to read these articles carefully. He was charged less than leases on nearby PRIVATE land. It is a well known fact the government charges below market rates for leases of public land - to anyone. It doesn't take special government connections. To some extent this is justified. The government doesnt pay taxes on the land for example. But I agree, public land leasing is probably something that needs a major overhaul but it does not show any "political connections" for Lundy - especially not prior to the purchase.


But is has followed the path set down by Congress


So you believe the sponsers are lieing about their intent?

EDIT. In doing more research it would appear the public vs private differential is more an environmentalist claim than reality. What is true, is that the govt set a rate based on a universal formula and does not make permit by permit pricing. In other words Lundy is paying the same price that any other rancher would be charged For that property There is/was no politcal clout.

https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21232.pdf

I read it pretty carefully, EC. I saw the sentence about the grazing rates on private lands, and I saw the part about the $50,000 roofing jobs that the NPS picked up whereas other lessees have to pay for their own repairs.

As for the bill's sponsors, I'm not saying they're lying at all. All I'm saying is that the congressional record from 40 years ago does not reflect those intentions.

So you agree the leasing rate was a redhering? An effort by the times to decieve? To make something that was standard practice sound nefarious?

i don't know the details of the roofing, but I suspect the details are equally innocuous.

And still again this has no bearing ( other than exposing critics tactics) on Lundy's intent to use political clout prior to his purchase - of which he has been accused.

Re intent: I think the words "historical preservation" shows that intent quite clearly.

I didn't see the charge that Lunny lined up his political connections before buying the oyster farm. Who accused him of that? I read the Wilderness Watch release, and didn't see that mentioned specifically, though I did see the supposed ties to the politically well-connected.

Re historical preservation, I suppose the intention there could have been the significance of Sir Francis Drake coming ashore in the estero, no?

As for the leasing rate, not sure why that was put in, but $50,000 worth of free roofing sure sounds odd.

Barbara at 3:15 yesterday Mtliving at 7:37 this morning.

What is there from Drakes arrival that needs to be preserved? And if there is something, would that be the only thing to be preserved? Wouldnt anything of historical significance fall under the preservation mantra?

As to the roof, I would want the details before I reached any conclusion. Obviosly, the LA Times reporter cant be trusted with his analysis.

Actually. What would be odd would be for a tennant to be responsible for the replacement his roof. Perhaps the Federal governent standard practice is different but given the deception of this reporter I would like to see that documented.

An interesting article that i don't think has been shown here before:

http://www.rangemagazine.com/features/spring-13/range-sp13-shell_game.pdf

Obviously from a ranchers prospective but it seems to refute the contention that Lunny knew the lease wouldn't be renewed. And it makes absolue sense that a bank wouldn't have given the loan had the NPS not assured them the farm was in the long term plan.

EC, the aspersions you cast are unbecoming.

And it's not unusual for the government to require tenants/lessees to pay for maintenance and upkeep. Read some of the concessions stories we've run out; park concessionaires routinely are required to pay into a maintenance fund, and perform maintenance, on park lodgings.

As for the Drakes Bay Oyster Co., its special use permit with the Park Service specifically states that the company is responsible for "repairs at its sole cost and expense."

http://www.nps.gov/pore/parkmgmt/upload/planning_dboc_sup_background_sup_080422.pdf

I wouldn't find it unusual for the same to be required of other tenants on the seashore grounds.

I guess this is simplier to me than to many of you. I think the Oyster farm, which predates establishment of the park, even if it was owned by someone else, is a valuable asset to the area. I think it should be continued.

This park, as valuable as it may be, is evidently the FIRST ocean wilderness and I suspect that may be why removing the farm is so important to many. People who have been in genuine wilderness find the ones here in the lower 48 to be somewhat lacking. I do anyway.

I would like to see a carve-out for the Oyster farm and facilities or at least a continuation of their operation through permitting by Congress. It is possible and has been done before. I don't know if the Lunnys were politically connected or not and frankly don't particularly care if they were.

If Grand Teton National Park can exist in conjunction with the Turner family (very politically connected) ranching activities, or if Frank Church Wilderness can exist while allowing multiple private airfields to exist within the borders of the wilderness I think this park can exist with a historical, successful and valuable oyster farm. Leasing of wilderness for grazing and probably other purposes continues all across western states. I'm sure there are special activities in parks or wilderness in Alaska. Miners are allowed to use roads to access their operations within wilderness in many western states.

I don't see the Oyster Farm as being much different.


aspersions you cast


I didn't cast the aspersions, Barbara & Mtliving did. I merely pointed their unstantiated accusations out.

The Oyster farm lease does indeed indicate it required Lunny to make the repairs. It would be nice to see the Ranch lease to see if it has the same language. Even better would be to get the full details of the $50,000 roof repair. Perhaps that was paid from a "maintenance fund" that the Lunny's payed into. We don't know, all we know is the reporter made the acqusation and said the payment came from political pressure but doesn't identify who that political pressure came from. Again, given his deception about the lease rates, I am skeptical about the veracity of this claim as well.

Wow - a lot of ground has been covered. Where to start?

Kurt Repanshek:
Mike, I just don't follow your claim about an over-reaching federal agency. Congress decided nearly 40 years ago that this area would be preserved as wilderness. For all the American people, and those yet to come. Now, I could see your point if this was an inholding owned by the oyster farm and the government was trying to take it over, but that's not the case at all.
That (an inholding being threatened with eminent domain proceedings) was back in 1972 when Charlie Johnson sold out to NPS with the leaseback agreement. I've read a statement from his daughter to that effect. They threw in a 40 year term and a renewal clause that they said would be likely to happen. If he doesn't take the offer, they start eminent domain proceedings and then have no obligation to lease it back to him.

In addition to that, there is a complex web of different jurisdictions. California Dept of Fish and Game and the California Fish and Game Commission still assert that they have jurisdiction over Drakes Estero until such time as they evict the oyster farm from its water bottom leases. I still say that NPS has overreached by ordering out the oyster racks from Drakes Estero. My understanding of the jurisdiction is that CDFG is technically the landlord and that they would be responsible for issuing a order to evict.

As for Feinstein's involvement in all this, I've read that a Marin County Supervisor called her up and that's how she got involved. I've read that the Lunnys might have donated to Feinstein's campaign fund, but it wasn't more than the rather piddly max individual donation. The costs that she's personally incurred on behalf of the oyster farm are probably more than any individual donations that Kevin and Nancy Lunny could make.

In regards to who pays for repairs, that's a great conversation. Right now NPS is paying for earthquake retrofit for the Ahwahnee Hotel. They're paying for repairs to the High Sierra Camps in Yosemite. That's especially ironic since my understanding of the wilderness plan was that if they required anything that cause excessive increase in detraction of wilderness characteristics (such as use of power tools and dropping in a new septic tank by helicopter) that a particular camp should cease operating and be dismantled/converted to full wilderness.

As for Kevin Lunny's politics, he's been quoted as saying that he doesn't particular want the support of right-wing anti government groups. He seems to be a bit uncomfortable with some of the people claiming to support him. However, I'm a supporter. I'm hardly a right-wing anti-government type. I would surmise the same for most of the oyster farm's loyal supporters (although not some people coming out of the woodwork

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/23/local/la-me-oysters-20130224/2

Lunny's supporters are threatening to stage protests and even blockade the road if authorities are required to escort Lunny and his staff from the seashore.

Lunny, a genial and quiet man, said he doesn't want to be associated with "right-wing land rights and anti-government groups."

"This has spun out of control like none of us would ever have imagined," Lunny said. "Some of these groups came out of the woodwork" after Salazar decided against extending the lease. "All of a sudden we have some new friends."

David Crowl:
In this issue I feel the land owner should be able to not renew a lease if they so choose as long as they give the tennant adiquate notice. (which was done long ago). I would hate to be a landlord and have the tennant tell me I have to continue a lease until they are ready to leave.
Try being a residential landlord in San Francisco or Berkeley under their rent control ordinances. They specifically only allow for several "just cause" evictions such as failure to pay rent or the owner moving in. If a tenant pays rent on time, that tenant can stay indefinitely.

Right now I'm guessing that NPS is treading really carefully with Lunny on the G Ranch. If they do anything that seems like they're penalizing his cattle operations to get back at him for his oyster farm activities, they might be looking at a lawsuit that he would likely win. They're obviously going out of their way to disassociate themselves from anything that looks like they're trying to get even with him by going after the cattle operations or the home he grew up in.

Would like to thank Traveler for this interesting discussion. I support the termination of the Oyster Farm lease, but do respect the other viewpoints. Would like to thank Barbara for posting the LA Times commentary.

Always the gentleman, rmackie. However :), I support this example of a century old enterprise where people actually work very connectedly to a resource with arguably positive environment effects. Working connected to the environent is good, healthy and a major contributor to one's own peace. Leave this oyster operation be, please. There's a point where unrestrained activism overreaches reason and good. Ever so apparent in today's political discourse. rmackie, maybe you could actually go out with the oystermen/oysterwomen and spend a day in their boots. Has anyone from Jarvis/Salazar to LE Rangers at PRNS stepped out of the NPS culture to emerse themselves in the world the rest of us live in? Try it, there are breakthroughs to be had.

Give me a break, trailadvocate. Most NPS employees don't live in parks. They live in the communities that surround the parks. Their kids go to local schools and they are members of the local PTAs, band boosters, volunteer fire departments and the like. They don't live in some kind of park bubble wrap. Many have good friends in their communities with whom the go bowling, play golf, and invite to dinner. You have got a pretty warped view of who they are, where they live, and with whom they associate.

BTW, I think it is about time to give this topic a rest. We can begin again when the court case is decided as I am sure we will.

Rick

Rick,

If you are tired of the thread, stop reading it. The rest of us are enjoying an informative, and civil, discussion of the issue.

Hey Rick, I'll try and keep the thread on point while addressing your bubble comments. I'm sure Kurt will appreciate that.

There are 30 people losing their jobs and a century long business will be relegated to a museum history interpretive prsentation. Not a business that goes along blowing up the Tetons in brazen search for precious metals and richdom. They raise and harvest oysters. By their very existence they improve water quality. That would seem to fit into the modern environmental mindset. Is there something else that drives those that pushes for their termination? In the days that Point Reyes NS had it's beginnings you'll have to admit the cuture was different. Today's culture as referenced by one of our leaders and thought by most others (in power) is that Americans have a right to be stupid:). Culture shift, no?

Addressing your "give me a break, bubble wrap" theme post, by your tone and words you pretty much have proven you are in a bubble. In my experience in a major park, most do live in the park. The communities just outside the park are very much based on visitors to the park. The voter statistics for the last few elections are in the 70%-80% Obama Progressive Camp (in a Red State). A considerable bubble one might think.

It will be interesting to see how the demographics work out this year as to visitation to our parks. I'm in a position to gauge those demographics and this last year Europeans, Canadians and Asians outnumbered Americans. As the private sector continues to be hammered (including those 30 unemployed Oystermen if Interior continues it's assault at a most unfortunate time), the figures should tell a story. More indication the bubble exists.

What I don't see is any consideration for those salt of the earth workers that mostly all of our previous generations were a part. Serious humbling is in order are my thoughts for "those in the bubble." Hard to achieve when the perks of government are flowing your way, I know.

I am giving you a break, Rick:).

I

Thirty jobs lost.

Folks don't seem so upset at the potential 3,000 jobs to be lost within the NPS due to the Congressional shenanigans of sequestration.

The bubble lives. Not long ago NPS got $700 Million in stimulous money. Those not in the stimulous/campaign contribution circle of life, where the majority of Americans work, didn't get a bump. If you don't have any consideration for those thirty why should you expect me to have any consideration for the 3,000 (if those are true numbers which is highly suspect). I may be one of those 3,000.

Drake's Bay Oyster should continue operating. I will then have consideration for the 3 or 3,000 whatever the true number may be.

The sequestration is hardly Congressional shenanigans. It's the latest manifestation of our government's inability to deal with it's excessive zeal for tax dollars. There is plenty of blame for the sequestration for both Congress and our President, who evidently proposed the strategy.

It would be a good thing for the nation if the NPS (and all the other agencies) were reduced in size as a result of government gaining control of itself, financially. Cuts are almost always made through attrition. Seasonal jobs aren't included because they are temporary. No one should expect a career from a temporary job. It's a stepping stone to something else

Of course, sequestration won't result in 3,000 parks employees losing their jobs. It's less than 5% remember.

The real threat of imminent job loss is for the Drakes Bay oystermen. There are actually two threats to their jobs. The NPS is one threat. The other is if they cannot make a profit farming oysters from the bay. They have no stream of tax dollars to support their activities. I bet they could get by on a 5% sequestration...


It would be a good thing for the nation if the NPS (and all the other agencies) were reduced in size as a result of government gaining control of itself, financially.


That seems pretty capricious and arbitrary, Mike. It's widely acknowledged that the VA, for instance, is under-staffed and -resourced for the challenges it current faces with returning soldiers. I doubt reducing the VA is a good thing for the nation, but that may be a disagreement of simply having different values and beliefs about the role of gov't--a disagreement that probably doesn't admit to any right ot wrong answers. I don't believing reducing NPS is good for the nation, either.

The Federal government is simply too large. Current policies and practices are unsustainable. Things like Veterans Affairs, the NPS, NASA and likely most other aspects of government are going to have to change to different models that use fewer tax dollars simply because the free ice cream machine won't function forever. There are lots of ideas and entrepreneurs who are willing to take on this work. It's the intractable politicians and bureaucrats who impede progress. A number of state governments are setting the example. I suspect the requirement that they banance their budgets annually has something to do with it....


but that may be a disagreement of simply having different values and beliefs about the role of gov't--a disagreement that probably doesn't admit to any right ot wrong answers.


Ah, but there are right and wrong answers about the role of government - and they are defined by our Constitution. Unfortunately, the progressive want to ignore this document which has made us the greatest nation ever on this planet.

I too don't think that reducing funding for the parks is a good thing and I doubt that MikeG does either. But if taking actions that cuts parks are necessary to get the entire fiscal house in order (or at least to get the process started) then it is a sacrifice worth making. If we stay on our current course and our economy collapses, the parks will be the last thing on any funding list.


h, but there are right and wrong answers about the role of government - and they are defined by our Constitution.


Take another look at my post. Everyone (or almost everyone) knows there can be disagreements about the role of gov't that nevertheless operate within the framework of the Constitution.


the progressive want to ignore this document


This is pretty much a right-wing caricature one would see on SNL.

I agree, Mike. But I would suggest that the gov't can be reckless, not just in spending, but in how it cuts as well.


Everyone (or almost everyone) knows there can be disagreements about the role of gov't that nevertheless operate within the framework of the Constitution.


But that is not the brunt of the current disagreement. There are those that believe the role is defined in the enumerated powers and then there are those that believe the role is far broader and will jump through every hoop, twist every word, redefine every meaning to get to their goal which is 180 degrees opposite of what our founders intended.


"This is pretty much a right-wing caricature"


Hardly. Their trampling of the Constitution is apparent every day.

There will be mistakes made in any reduction of funding of the government. Our history is replete with them. I'm willing to take the chance because there is really no other option.

Regarding the difference of opinion between people in the role of government and that people can disagree while remaining within the constitutional framework. Sure, that's how we develop policies and priorities... but... EC is correct. There is a substantial element, perhaps a dominating element within the Democrat party that is ready and willing to set certain elements of the constitution aside in order to achieve their goals. The second and fourth amendments are currently under attack. The President's accelerated use of executive orders to achieve his agenda in spite of the United States Congress are two specific examples. There are many others as well, like recess appointments of staff, subsequently struck down (repeatedly) by the courts.

We're pretty far afield from oysters here and I expect Kurt is wondering how far we should go. I would like to say that I really appreciate the dialogue on this thread and the fact that all of us have been able to contain our partisan instincts as we each argue our case....


and then there are those that believe the role is far broader and will jump through every hoop, twist every word, redefine every meaning to get to their goal which is 180 degrees opposite of what our founders intended.


Reminds me of your reading of the Second Amendment in other threads--the commas you skip over and your rearranging of its clauses.