December 10, 2016

Secretary Salazar protects marine wilderness at Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore. photo: Jose C Silva, flickr (cc)

Point Reyes National Seashore. photo: Jose C Silva, flickr (cc)

The Obama administration today announced that the Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore will finally be protected as wilderness as intended by legislation passed in 1976 (see “A 50th anniversary for wilderness”, December-January Yodeler, page 6). The decision, which confirms the long-planned expiration of a private oyster farm lease within the area, will firmly protect the only marine wilderness area on the west coast.

In response Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement. “We’re thrilled that after three decades this amazing piece of Point Reyes National Seashore will finally receive the protections it deserves. Once the oyster factory operations are removed, as originally promised and paid for, this estuary will quickly regain its wilderness characteristics and become a safe haven for marine mammals, birds, and other sea life.

Preserving this area as wilderness fulfills Congress’ promise to all Americans when it passed the Point Reyes Wilderness Act. The National Park Service rightly concluded in its study that the oyster factory is damaging the national park; full wilderness protection is the best way to preserve this fragile area. We saw during the public comment period that full wilderness protection was also supported by more than 90 percent of those who commented on the Park Service study.

Secretary Salazar was right to permanently protect this valuable part of our natural heritage that taxpayers have already purchased, and it will benefit generations to come. This decision helps support a broader lands legacy for the Obama administration by setting good public policy and recognizing the value of protecting our wild places.”


  1. Pamalah MacNeily says:

    This was the wrong decision. The Lunny’s have done a marvelous job of cleaning up the area.

    This will take away 40% of all oysters grown in California, the last Oyster Cannery in California,
    Drakes Bay Oysters is where Oyster growers in Tomales Bay get their oysters when it is raining as Tomales Bay becomes too polluted with run off.

    We have just lost a huge source of local food.

  2. Dick Hingson says:

    The East Bay Express (Dec. 5, 2012) has a great article by Robert Gammon, “The Real Reasons for Ken Salazar’s Decision”.

    The overriding principle is not food sources, or whether the oyster farm was harming the environment.

    Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stated that the decision not to renew was “based on the incompatibility of commercial activities in wilderness….”

    For more, see also an earlier article of 6/13 in the East Bay Express, “Feinstein’s Folly”. The precedent about wilderness designation trumps a variety of other interesting, but not deciding, considerations. See also the article on same published in August in Ecology Law Quarterly.

  3. Susan Tripp says:

    I have yet to see any account that explains how the oyster farm damages the ocean life.
    ‘They grow more oysters than normally would be there, but otherwise do not disturb the
    sea and its creatures.

    Perhaps in Colorado and DC oysters are not understood. If there is a good reason that removal
    of the growing stands and the killing of juvenile oysters protects the ocean and its creatures, the press has failed to explain the evidence.

Speak Your Mind