Drakes Estero

U.S. Supreme Court denies Drakes Bay Oyster Co. appeal hearing


(From SFGate.com, Monday, June 30, 2014) The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear an appeal from an oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore that is facing closure by the federal government.

Without comment, the high court left in place a federal court ruling upholding the Interior Department's refusal to renew the lease of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., which operates California's only oyster cannery. Kevin Lunny bought the company in 2005, seven years before the expiration of a 40-year lease in federal waters. Read more....


Marin Conservation League has been involved in the preservation of unique ecosystems in Pt. Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) for more than 70 years – beginning with the first acquisition of Drakes Beach by the League in 1938, to authorization of the Park in 1962, to advocating for designation of wilderness areas within the seashore in 1976.  At that time, Congress designated Drakes Estero as potential rather than full wilderness to allow the existing Johnson Oyster Company to continue as a nonconforming use until its 40-year Right of Use and Occupancy (RUO), negotiated in 1972, expired in 2012.  In 2005, with knowledge of the expiration date, farmer Kevin Lunny purchased the company and renamed it Drakes Bay Oyster Co. At that point he launched a campaign to seek an extension of the permit.  PRNS affirmed that it did not have authority to issue a new permit, in accordance with its interpretation of the Pt. Reyes Wilderness Act and supporting Park policies.

In 2009, the Secretary of the Interior was granted discretionary authority by federal legislation to issue a new Special Use Permit (SUP) to Drakes Bay Oyster Company to continue operations for 10 years, i.e., until 2022, at which time Drakes Estero would become full wilderness as designated by Congress in 1976. On November 29, 2012, Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar announced that he would not issue an SUP, effectively ending the oyster operation. For more information, visit sfgate.com.

MCL fully supports the continuation of agriculture within the pastoral zone of PRNS, as designated at the time of the Seashore’s authorization in 1962.

2011 Documents and Correspondence

2010 Documents and Correspondence

2009 Documents and Correspondence
Drake's Estero
photo by Lance and Erin, Flickr Creative Commons

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