Our mission is to protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands from the underregulated expansion of new and intensive shellfish aquaculture methods. These methods were never anticipated when the Shoreline Management Act was passed. They are transforming the natural tideland ecosystems in Puget Sound and are resulting in a fractured shoreline habitat. In South Puget Sound much of this has been done with few if any meaningful shoreline permits and with limited public input. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Get involved and contact your elected officials to let them you do not support aquaculture's industrial transformation of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Governor Inslee:

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Information Website on Drakes Bay Oyster Company


A new informational web site has been created about Drakes Bay Oyster Company which presents another view and counters many of the false or misleading claims being presented as "fact" by those who wish this commercial operation to continue within a wilderness area. Included are comments on legislative history, economic claims, and why some view this as setting a precedent leading to the commercial exploitation of wilderness. Three are copied below. Many other comments are on the site. It is a strong counter to the false narrative created by Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lobbyists and public relations firms.

1. FALSE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY CLAIMS: Those involved with the 1976 Wilderness Act saw the oyster farm as compatible with wilderness and never intended that it be shut at the end of its lease.

CLAIM: [L]egislators…say they never intended to get rid of the oyster farm. "…there was no contention…," former Congressman John Burton said. .
“Battle over local oyster farms heats up,” ABC 7, August 27, 2011, http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/assignment_7&id=8325489
FACT: The former congressman fails to recall that two of the most influential organizations involved in the legislation (The Sierra Club and People for a Golden Gate National Recreation Area) both submitted comments to the Environmental Impact Statement that explicitly link the oyster farm with the Reed Memo (http://wilderness.nps.gov/document/I-8.pdf). That Memo’s references to "determinable time" and "elimination of private uses" make clear these organizations proposed that when the oyster lease expired, the Estero would become Wilderness.   Further a 7/14/09 Marin Independent Journal article notes Burton said he doesn't remember exactly why the oyster farm had a shorter lease. The shorter lease, he said, meant the oyster farm could continue, but not forever.” This is precisely what occurred, with the oyster company operations continuing for its full 40 year lease while wilderness protection was on hold pending the expiration of the lease.

CLAIM: The NPS supported the continuation of oyster operations beyond its 2012 lease expiration
FACT: At a hearing on wilderness designations in 1976, Gary Everhardt, Director of the NPS, explained that the NPS’ wilderness recommendations contained areas termed “potential wilderness” because they involve “lands [that] are presently unqualified but will within a determinable time qualify [for full wilderness designation], [and] a special provision is included in the legislative proposal giving the Secretary of the Interior the authority to designate the land as wilderness when he determines it qualifies.” (emphasis added)
CLAIM: Sierra Club...1973: "[the Estero] can be put under the Wilderness Act even while the oyster culture is continued---it will be a prior existing, non-conforming use"
Peter Prows (Company attorney)  6/16/13 "A Contract is not a Scie...":
FACT: The false claim that in 1973 the Sierra Club supported the oyster farm as compatible with wilderness in perpetuity is based on a willful omission. The next sentence in the Club’s letter mentions the oyster farm in reference to the Reed Memo (http://wilderness.nps.gov/document/I-8.pdf), which makes clear that the Sierra Club proposed that when the oyster lease expired, the Estero would become Wilderness.

2. FALSE ECONOMIC CLAIMS: Closing the Company would have immediate negative impacts on the economy, sustainable agriculture and food industry.

CLAIM: Almost 40% of the oysters grown in California…are grown in Drakes Estero….[ They] play an important role in the local, regional and statewide economy…Importing shellfish to replace… will…further worsen the US trade balance.
Amici Curiae Brief of Alice Waters, et al, March 14, 2013 http://oysterzone.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/amicus-drakes-bay-oyster-v-salazar-final.pdf
FACT: These production claims are false. According to industry data, the Company produces only 8% to 13% of the State’s oysters and less than 2% of the West Coast’s oysters. Humboldt Bay already produces 70% of the State’s oysters and operations there are expected to increase significantly in 2014, resulting in a net increase in California’s oyster supply even with the closing of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The Company’s grossly exaggerated contribution to the local economy is dwarfed by Point Reyes National Seashore, which welcomes more than two million visitors every year who generate almost $85 million in benefits to local economies and support nearly 1,000 jobs in surrounding communities, and local businesses such as Fireman’s Fund and AutoDesk. In 2012, the Company was shut for six weeks due to pathogens, and from 2000-2005 few oysters were produced in Drakes Estero, yet oysters were easily supplied by the region’s largest producers in Washington State. The trade imbalance is in canned oysters, which the Company does not produce.
CLAIM: The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm epitomizes the sustainable farming we need in these times of growing food insecurity and global environmental crisis.

Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture, www.alsamarin.org/dbocletters.htm
FACT: The Company does not grow a native species for local consumption and cannot produce oyster larvae itself. Instead it imports larvae of non-native species from out of state and then raises them to marketable size in Drakes Estero. Nor are oysters an important source of nutrition for Americans, rather they are an expensive luxury.

3. Setting Dangerous Precedents for Exploiting Public Lands

East Bay Express columnist Robert Gammon wrote:
Many environmentalists… warn that allowing the oyster farm to remain open — and thus delaying the creation of the first marine wilderness on the West Coast — could set a dangerous precedent. And during the past few weeks more evidence has emerged that environmentalists have good reason to be concerned, as Republican lawmakers increasingly view the oyster farm as a poster child for the rights of corporations operating on public land.
East Bay Express, March 27, 2013

Ultra-Conservative State Lawmakers in seek to open up wilderness to mining and drilling
In its effort to overturn the protection of Drakes Estero marine wilderness, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company has partnered with Koch-funded lawmakers and organizations that have long-waged anti-environmental campaigns. California Common Cause’s report, From Point Reyes to the Grand Canyon, notes that fights similar to Drakes Bay in California are happening in several western states. The
conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and William Koch (brother of Charles and David Koch) are working with state legislators throughout the west to open up public lands by explicitly challenging federal control and which they claim has “put too much land off-limits to commercial activities, such as energy development.”

In Arizona, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voiced support for mining the Grand Canyon. Flake received $12,500 from Koch Industries in 2008 according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Some members of Congress have attempted to intercede on behalf of private interests in the Grand Canyon dispute. In last fall’s election campaign, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, voiced his support for mining the Grand Canyon; Flake has been supported by Koch Industries and earlier attempted to include language in the national parks’ annual funding bill to oppose the Grand Canyon mining ban.
California Common Cause, January 24, 2013

In Utah, The Common Cause Report notes:
The Republican governor of Utah signed a bill that demands “roughly 30 million acres of public land in Utah” be taken out of public ownership and handed over to the state by 2015 ”or face a state lawsuit challenging its continued control of that property.”The Utah bill sponsor, ALEC member and state Rep. Ken Ivory (R), told Fox News that public land is “worth trillions of dollars in oil and mineral resources.”
California Common Cause, January 24, 2013

In Colorado,
The New York Times has reported that William Koch, who owns coal and gas companies, is embroiled in a bitter debate about public access to public lands in Colorado. He wants Congress to authorize him to trade two parcels of land he owns, including one inside the boundaries of Dinosaur National Monument, in exchange for 1,690 acres of public land in Colorado popular with hunters and hikers. He plans to close off the land to the public to ensure visitors cannot access the Old West-style town he’s building nearby.
California Common Cause, January 24, 2013

Ultra-Conservative Lawmakers in Congress seek to open wilderness to oil exploration.

In January 2012, Sen. David Vitter (R-La) co-wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to lift
restrictions on the development of oil and gas on federal lands including wilderness areas:

Wilderness areas…which are rich in resources, prevent the responsible development of natural resources.
Office of Sen. David Vitter, January 25, 2012

In 2011, Vitter introduced a bill promoting oil drilling that would strip reimbursement of legal fees to environmental groups who successfully sue to protect federal lands:

Prohibits the award or federal payment of legal fees to an environmental nongovernmental organization in connection with any action…preventing, terminating, or reducing access to production of energy, mineral resources, water by agricultural producers, a resource by commercial or recreational fishermen, or grazing or timber production on federal land.
S. 706 (112th): 3-D, Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/pagedetails.action?packageId=BILLS-112s706pcs

The Ultra-Conservative Pacific Legal Foundation, which is assisting the Oyster Company, has historic ties to the oil, mining and waste industries.
The Pacific Legal Foundation has a long history of undermining protections of wilderness:
Oil and tobacco corporations, chamber of commerce groups, and rightwing billionaires such as Joseph Coors (a Colorado beer baron), Richard Mellon Scaife (a Pittsburgh heir to the Mellon banking, oil and aluminum empire), and John Simon Fluor (a California mining, nuclear and oil baron) poured millions of dollars into launching Pacific Legal Foundation and similar nonprofit lawfirms across the country.
High Country News, December 10, 2007

In 1981, the Pacific Legal Foundation sued then-Interior Secretary James Watt for not
allowing oil and mineral exploration in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.
Headline: Wilderness System Is Under Siege By Oil, Gas, Mineral and Timber Interests[In 1981], the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, chaired by Morris K. Udall, D-Ariz., withdrew the entire 1.5-million acre Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana from possible mineral leasing for three years…. Some 340 lease applications had been filed covering most of the wilderness…. Although [then Reagan-appointed Interior Secretary James G.] Watt complied, he wrote Udall saying he thought the withdrawal was unconstitutional. A few days later, Watt's old employer, the Mountain States Legal Foundation, joined the Pacific Legal Foundation, to sue Watt in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana to keep Bob Marshall open to mineral leasing.
The National Journal, November 21, 1981
In 1986, the Pacific Legal Foundation represented miners who were mining in Denali National Park, fighting a temporary ban on mining in three Alaska national parks, placed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while the government assessed potential damage to land and water.
Until the suit was filed in May 1985, mining was "a disaster in the parks," said Philip Barnett of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, which represented the three environmental organizations that filed suit... In Denali National Park, he said, mining had polluted over 150 miles of streams. […] But James Burling of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented the Alaska Miners Association, said the order upheld by the court was "much too harsh…"
Associated Press, October 23, 1986

In 1987, then-U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston of California sought to protect 82 wilderness areas in Southern California. The Pacific Legal Foundation called the bill “preservation run amok.”
Cranston's measure would create three national parks and 82 wilderness areas in the 25-million-acre California Desert Conservation Area now administered by federal and state agencies. These areas are scattered across the southeastern corner of the state, from Inyo County south 240 miles to the Mexican border, and include some of the most spectacular desert scenery in the world. […] "Preservationism run amok," is how the influential Pacific Legal Foundation's James S. Burling described the Cranston bill in the California Mining Journal. The Sacramento-based foundation is a nonprofit, industry-oriented group of legal activists...
Los Angeles Times, April 19, 1987

In 2002, then-PLF vice president M. David Stirling called the 328,000 acres of sequoia redwoods that President Clinton designated a national monument in central California of “marginal significance” and “truly unnecessary”
On April 15, President Clinton held a ceremony in the Sequoia National Forest in central California, and 'proclaimed' 328,000 acres a national monument. […] Rather than confine monuments to small areas of special concern, the president has appropriated millions of acres of marginal significance….Giant sequoias have not been logged for nearly a decade….Consequently, this monument of 328,000 acres is truly unnecessary.
David Stirling, PLF, Orange County Register, Op-Ed, May 11, 2000
In 2009, PLF filed an amicus brief on behalf of Kaiser Ventures, a California company attempting convert a former mine in Eagle Mountain, California – surrounded on three sides by Joshua Tree National Park -- into a landfill. The project was opposed by environmentalists and community members for nearly twenty years, and in 2013 the company backed away from the project. http://blog.pacificlegal.org/2010/plf-asks-9th-circuit-to-reconsider-controversial-landfill-decision/
The above examples demonstrate how the Oyster Company and its Ultra-Conservative Allies Seek Dangerous Precedents for Exploiting Public Land.

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