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.”