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:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Drakes Estero: Op-ed on the Significance of a Shoreline Wilderness

Note: You may help support the efforts to allow Drakes Estero to become the shoreline wilderness Congress intended by donating to the West Marin Envirionmental Action Committee or the Natural Resource Defense Council.
Doug McConnell

The Marin Independent Journal has published an Op-ed by Doug McConnell on why Drakes Estero should be allowed to become the shoreline wilderness area Congress intended. Mr McConnell was host of Bay Area Backroads from 1993 to 2009. He is currently the co-Founder and Managing Partner of ConvergenceMedia Productions (CMP) in Sausalito, California. One of CMP's principal products is OpenRoad with Doug McConnell, Exploring the West for Public Television nationally. It is copied below with emphasis added.

by Doug McConnell
Marin Independent Journal, 9/30/2013

IN CALIFORNIA, many of us are lucky to live near the ocean and estuaries, where salt water mixes with fresh water from rivers and streams to create ecologically rich yet vulnerable natural environments. I've spent most of my life within walking distance of three famous and beautiful estuaries: Alaska's Cook Inlet, Washington's Puget Sound, and our very own, San Francisco Bay.
These and other estuaries have long attracted commercial activities and are vital engines of our coastal economy. But as our population has grown dramatically, concerned citizens have had to play catch up to save these bays from being overrun by development. They've struggled with mixed success to give nature a seat at the bargaining table as they've sought to strike a balance between our economy and our environment.
Meanwhile, not a single estuary on the west coast has been preserved and managed solely as a wilderness sanctuary, where commercial and motorized activities are set aside to prioritize nature in its wild form.

It would be extraordinary to have at least one bay on the Pacific shore where we can cease our enterprises to simply watch, enjoy and study the life of a relatively unfettered estuary.
As we recently commemorated the 25th annual National Estuaries Week, that would be a grand gift to nature, to ourselves and to future generations.

Fortunately, such an opportunity exists in our own backyard.

In the 1970s, far-sighted leaders passed legislation promising that Drakes Bay in Point Reyes National Seashore would eventually become an aquatic wilderness. The company planting and harvesting oysters commercially in Drakes Bay was given fair warning that when its lease expired in four decades the operations would have to be removed. When the time came to fulfill the contract, the oyster company took the National Park Service to court, challenging the Interior Secretary's decision to let the lease expire as planned.

The fate of Drakes Bay and its oysters has stirred significant controversy with wise and well-intentioned people lining up at opposite ends of what's become a profoundly divisive issue in Marin County.

I've listened closely to the passionate arguments by close friends on both sides of the debate. But with due respect to those who believe that oyster farming should continue, I hope that the recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling will be upheld and that Drakes Bay will finally receive the unique wilderness protection it was promised long ago, allowing nature to find a new equilibrium.

Confronted with enormous 21st century challenges such as climate change and ocean acidification, we and our coastal environments face great uncertainties. It will be a tremendous benefit to nature and all of us to have at least one estuary on the edge of the Pacific that's free of commercial activity.

Drakes Bay is a special but fragile environment that nurtures thousands of migratory birds and one of our state's largest harbor seal colonies. Wilderness protection will give all these native residents and visitors to Drakes Bay a buffer from the changes that are assaulting them and their ancient ecosystems, while giving us a laboratory to monitor their reactions and learn lessons we might apply to aid estuaries elsewhere in the years ahead.

Since the Wilderness Act became law nearly 50 years ago, we've benefited from the protection it has provided to important terrestrial ecosystems across the country; places we can visit and enjoy more on nature's terms than our own. Drakes Bay adds a critical piece of our marine environment to that long and treasured wilderness legacy.

Such an achievement will be celebrated for generations to come.

Doug McConnell of Corte Madera is an environmental media producer, host of public television's "Open Road with Doug McConnell: Exploring the West" and former host of "Bay Area Backroads".

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