U.S. evicting Point Reyes oyster farmer
Peter Fimrite and Justin Berton
Updated 11:23 p.m., Thursday, November 29, 2012
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a popular oyster farm at Drakes Bay on Thursday to pack up and leave, effectively ending more than a century of shellfish harvesting on the picturesque inlet where Europeans first set foot in California.
Salazar’s decision ends a long-running dispute between the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and the National Park Service over the estuary at Point Reyes National Seashore where Sir Francis Drake landed more than 400 years ago.
The National Park Service intends to turn the 2,700-acre area into the first federally designated marine wilderness area on the West Coast, giving the estuary special protected status as an unaltered ecological region. To do that, Salazar rejected the oyster company’s proposal to extend its 40-year lease to harvest shellfish on 1,100 acres of the property.
Kevin Lunny, a local rancher who bought the shellfish operation from Johnson Oyster Co. in 2004, said he was shocked when he got a call directly from Salazar on Thursday morning telling him that the 40-year occupancy agreement would not be renewed.
“It’s disbelief and excruciating sorrow,” he said of the mood at the oyster farm, where 30 people are employed, including seven families that live on the property.
“There are 30 people, all in tears this morning, who are going to lose their jobs and their homes,” Lunny said. “They are experts in seafood handling and processing in the last oyster cannery in California, and there is nowhere for them to go.”
It’s just a small business, no one (important) will miss it, yada, yada, yada … how many hundreds or thousands of similar “insignificant” small businesses have gotten or will get the same kind of @#$%-job from the Enviros and their lapdog EPA?!