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Point Reyes National Seashore Oyster Farm Issued Cease-And-Desist Order From California Officials

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The owners of an oyster farm fighting for their business at Point Reyes National Seashore have been issued a cease-and-desist order from the California Coastal Commission pertaining to unpermitted operations.

The order is just the latest setback for the Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which back in November was told by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that he would not extend the company's lease to farm oysters in the waters of Drakes Estero in the national seashore.

On February 4, a U.S. District Court judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would block the eviction notice while DBOC's owner, Kevin Lunny, pursued a lawsuit to reverse it. Three days later the coastal commission approved the cease-and-desist order.

The order specifically directs DBOC to "(1) cease and desist from conducting or maintaining unpermitted development; (2) remove onshore unpermitted development; (3) remove and/or cease unpermitted development, including discharge of invasive Didemnum sp., Manila clams, and marine debris from Drakes Estero and beyond; and (4) follow requirements to seek Coastal Act authorization for specified unpermitted development, and (5) limit any interim operations and conduct them pursuant to a set of guidelines designed to protect the environment, including by controlling the invasive Didemnum sp.

In supporting the order, the commission's staff pointed to 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.

"Additionally, the Secretary of the Interior has declined to issue a new lease to DBOC, and as the state water bottom leases were made expressly contingent upon continued federal authorization to occupy the Property, the facility now exists without any governing resource protection operational controls, which will be the case during the pendency of current litigation filed over the lease renewal issues,' the staff noted in its recommendations to the commission.

"Commission staff has worked sedulously with DBOC over the past months in an effort to resolve these issues in the context of a consent settlement, but was ultimately unable to obtain agreement regarding the various resourceprotection measures to be implemented in the context of both interim operations and potential retirement of the facility."

Comments

The latest on the issue coming out today. Injunction granted in favor of Drakes Bay Oyster.

http://causeofaction.org/2013/02/25/emergency-injunction-granted-for-dra...


Here's an op-ed about the CCC action by local environmentalist Phyllis Faber, who was at the hearing: http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_22598249/marin-voice-california-coastal-commission-uses-distorted-information


Sound like a hard ass, Greg. I can only imagine the choices Johnson (I believe) had on whether or not to sell. Bureocrats giving him a choice as to which poison he'd like is usually the option certain "American Taxpayers" have in cases like this. The war on the individual is more to the point, I believe. The working waterfronts of our coasts with hollistic connections is something visitors enjoy seeing and consuming their products is so much more real than at the malls and grocerie stores. Rock On, Drakes Bay.


Like to repeat.

Y_P_W: "I've seen interviews, watched meeting videos, and read letters from CDFG and CFGC. They've always been supportive of the oyster farm."

Seems like NPS is on muddy ground and has been for quite awhile on this issue if procedures and intent are scrutinized. The character of these places are being irrevocably lost to revisionists and it's not good for the culture, I believe. More museum phylosophy that some past Secretaries of Interior abhored.


Sarah Rolph:
y_p_w, you raise a good point about CDFG (which I'm told is CDFW now--fish&wildlife). I am still pretty mystified by the complexities of California politics. As you know, CDFW did issue the water-bottom permit quite a while back, and it's good until 2029. Perhaps you're right that they're waiting to see what happens.

NPS (especially Neubacher) was making a big stink on 2004 when CDFG and the Fish and Game Commission were considering renewing the water bottom lease. I saw some letters from Neubacher to CDFG pleading with them to not renew the lease or at the very least issue only a short term lease to Johnson's until certain conditions were met. I watched one of the CFGC archived meeting videos where the oyster farm was on the agenda. I think one of the commissioners was on the Commission at the time of the renewal. He noted that they made the lease terms contingent on maintaining the federal reservation of use or a special use permit because NPS complained. Their continued validity wasn't tied to the NPS land before.

Im guessing that they feel that they'd rather not do something that can't be undone until DBOC exhausts their legal challenges.

I've seen interviews, watched meeting videos, and read letters from CDFG and CFGC. They've always been supportive of the oyster farm.


y_p_w, you raise a good point about CDFG (which I'm told is CDFW now--fish&wildlife). I am still pretty mystified by the complexities of California politics. As you know, CDFW did issue the water-bottom permit quite a while back, and it's good until 2029. Perhaps you're right that they're waiting to see what happens.

The CCC doesn't seem to be very interested in what's right or proper. The hearing last week was basically a lynching. Kevin Lunny told me the commissioners actually made faces at him while he was trying to make his presentation. Can you imagine such a thing? The staff also presented an old photo of a trashy Johnson oyster farm as if it were from the current operation. I expect to have a story that includes that photo next week.

Here's a link to the story I published this week about the CCC action: http://oysterzone.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/02-14-13-pt-reyes-light-coastal-commission-trumped-up-claims-against-dboc/

(The Point Reyes Light is a small local paper that has the quaint idea that they ought not put too much free content on the web, lest people stop buying the print edition. But I have their permission to post my story at the oysterzone blog. Lots of great material there for those who want to delve deep, including Corey Goodman's 44-page chronology of the controversy: http://oysterzone.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/chronology-05-05-12-44-pages1.pdf Goodman does like details....)


Kurt, thanks for having an edit feature. It's nice to be able to correct my typos even after the fact! (not that I find them all, but I try!)


Thanks for that history, y_p_w. Interesting points.

There's some information here about the RCA station: http://www.nps.gov/pore/historyculture/people_communications.htm

This art deco building is still there--I wish they would refurbish it and make it a museum or something. You can't go in it, but you can drive up to it. The short road that leads to it has lovely old cypress trees on either side of it--a favorite subject for photographers, especially in the fog.

Yes, my understanding is that the threat of housing developments is what brought everyone together over the plans for the National Seashore. People often ask Kevin Lunny if he dislikes the Park Service because of its actions against him and he always says no, that he and the entire community are very grateful that the Park Service helped save this land from development.


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