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Originally Posted: 30 October 2011
Tell the National Park Service to Protect Point Reyes and Stop Attacks On America’s Wilderness. Our national parks and wilderness areas don’t belong to big business. They belong to the American people.
Submit your comments to the National Park Service by November 29, 2011 in favor
of ALTERNATIVE A, allowing the oyster company operating permit to expire and
finally establishing wilderness at Point Reyes National Seashore, as Congress
legislated thirty-five years ago:
INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS
Famous for expansive beaches, open grasslands, forested ridges, tranquil bays, and valuable wetlands, the Point Reyes National Seashore is a rare and renowned nature preserve only an hour’s drive from San Francisco. More than a thousand species of plants and animals live within the 71,000-acre national park.
In recognition of this rich natural diversity and its scientific significance, Congress voted in 1976 to protect more than 33,000 acres at Point Reyes National Seashore as wilderness, including 2,500 acres at Drakes Estero, the only marine wilderness on the West Coast.
Drakes Estero is a unique, wildlife-rich estuary; it is a crucial resting and foraging area for hundreds of thousands of resident and migrating birds; it provides habitat for unique plant and animals; and it has some of the largest extent of native eelgrass habitat along the California coast.
Although commercial operations are inconsistent with the Wilderness Act, Congress allowed an existing oyster-growing business in Drakes Estero to stay, with the mandate that it had to cease operations in 2012.
Now, the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, a commercial shellfish producer that bought the oyster company’s remaining operating rights in 2005, wants to expand and extend the original special use permit within Drakes Estero wilderness for a minimum of 10 additional years. Backed by the powerful shellfish lobby, the company is waging an expensive misinformation campaign to attack the Wilderness Act and the National Park Service, and overturn the wilderness designation.
A deal is a deal. Drakes Bay Oyster Company bought the business in 2005, knowing the permit expired in 2012. It is not fair to change the rules now so they can make a profit from a public asset funded by taxpayers. But powerful political and special interests are pressuring Congress and spending millions of dollars to try to extend the lease and keep the long-promised wilderness protection from taking effect at Point Reyes National Seashore.
If we lose the wilderness status at Drakes Estero, it opens the door for industry to do the same in our wilderness areas and national parks across the country.
Our national parks and wilderness areas don’t belong to big business. They belong to the American people. You can help.
Thank you for everything you do for animals!