A federal appellate court handed environmentalists a total victory today when it ordered a controversial oyster farm to close at Point Reyes National Seashore. The 2-1 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco also paves the way for the creation of the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.
In its ruling, the appellate court denied a request by Drakes Bay Oyster Farm to remain open. The oyster farm had argued that then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made legal errors last fall when he denied a request to renew the oyster farm’s lease.
“The court rightly decided that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had full discretion to let the oyster operation permit expire and to honor the 1976 wilderness designation for Drakes Estero. We are very grateful for this decision, which supports the estero’s full wilderness protection,” said Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin.
The court case also had political overtones, as right-wing groups had championed the oyster farm’s cause in an effort to expand the rights of private corporations operating on public land.
“The court ruling affirms that our national parks will be safe from privatization schemes, and that special places like Drakes Estero will rise above attempts to hijack Americans’ wilderness. Taxpayers can rejoice that the land they bought and own in Point Reyes National Seashore will now be protected as planned after 40 years of waiting,” said Neal Desai, Associate Director of the Pacific Region for the National Parks Conservation Association.