Alice Waters, a chef renowned for her insistence on the freshest organically grown and locally produced ingredients, has signed on to a "friend of the court" brief in support of an oyster company trying to hold on to its operations at Point Reyes National Seashore on California.
The brief (attached below) filed Thursday in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also was supported by the Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco, the Tomales Bay Oyster Company, Stacey Carlsen, Agricultural Commissioner, County of Marin, the Marin County Farm Bureau, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, the California Farm Bureau Federation, Food Democracy Now, the Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture, and Marin Organic.
The appellate court late last month granted Drakes Bay Oyster Co. an injunction to block the National Park Service from ending its lease at the national seashore until a hearing in May on the matter. The company's lease expired at the end of November, and Congress had directed the Park Service to officially declare Drakes Estero a wilderness area once all non-conforming uses were removed.
In seeking the temporary restraining order, Drakes Bay'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.
The amicus brief said Ms. Waters, the owner of Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California, has over the course of nearly 40 years "helped create a community of scores of local farmers and ranchers, such as the Lunnys (owners of DBOC), whose dedication to sustainable aquaculture and agriculture assures the restaurant a steady supply of fresh and pure ingredients."
The 37-page filing also argued that "closing the oyster farm would have a broad, negative and immediate impact, on the local economy and the sustainable agriculture and food industry in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the school children of the workers who live in the housing units onsite, and, in the longer term, on food security and the U.S. balance of trade. Closing down the oyster farm in Drakes Estero, which has existed since the early 1930s, would be inconsistent with the best thinking of the modern environmental movement and further tear at the fabric of an historic rural community that the Point Reyes National Seashore [Seashore] was created to help preserve."
The brief, along with voicing the signatories' support for the oyster company, also argued that there's an ongoing evolution in how society views nature.
"Chief Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, Peter Kareiva, is a leading advocate for the need for 21st century conservationists to become more 'people friendly' and to deal with 'working landscapes,' including fisheries," the brief notes.
The filing also cites an article in Slate that quoted Emma Marris, described as a leader of the "modernist environmental movement," as saying, “we must temper our romantic notion of untrammeled wilderness’ and embrace the jumbled bits and pieces of nature that are all around us – in our backyards, in city parks, and farms."