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Oyster farm files appeal in latest bid to stay open - Marinscope Community Newspapers : Sausalito Marin Scope

Oyster farm files appeal in latest bid to stay open

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Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 2:32 pm

The beer will be flowing at Drakes Bay Oyster Farm on Valentine’s Day this week as the farm takes part in SF Beer Week amidst the farm’s latest bid to stay open.

The owners of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm announced last week they are appealing a ruling in which a federal trial judge declined to block the closure of the decades-old farm at Point Reyes National Seashore.

In a statement released by his lawyers, co-owner Kevin Lunny said, “We continue to be grateful for the outpouring of support from our community. We have had time to weigh our options carefully, and have decided to appeal the judge’s decision.”

Lawyers for Lunny and the company filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last week.

On top of the federal case, the California Coastal Commission, the organization that regulates the use of land and water along the California coastline, voted to issue a cease and desist order against the oyster company on Feb. 7.

The order addresses impacts to eelgrass from motorboat propellers, impacts to water quality from treated wooden racks, the spread of the invasive species and the general nature of ongoing operations, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin Executive Director Amy Trainer said.

“In addition to detailing a seven-year history of violations, the order propose various compliance steps applicable to Drakes Bay Oyster Company as it completes removal of its shellfish and gear by Feb. 28,” Trainer said.

Lunny and his wife, Nancy Lunny, bought the oyster farm from a predecessor company in 2004 and took over a 40-year permit that expired in 2012.

In a federal lawsuit, they are challenging a decision in which U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar in November announced he was turning down their request for a 10-year extension and allowing the permit to expire so that the area could return to wilderness.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of Oakland declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have enabled the farm to stay open until a full trial is held on the lawsuit.

Rogers said Congress in a 2009 law gave the secretary “complete discretion” to decide whether to renew the permit.

The appeal will seek to overturn that ruling and obtain an order for a preliminary injunction. The farm’s lawyers said in a case statement filed with the appeals court that they will also seek a temporary injunction that would keep the farm open during the appeal.

If it does not win an injunction during the appeal, the oyster company has a deadline of March 15 to remove its equipment.

The farm grows oysters on 1,000 acres of submerged lands in Drakes Estero, an estuary of Drakes Bay, and packages them on 1.5 acres of land along the shoreline. It says it produces more than one-third of all oysters grown in California.

The Point Reyes seashore area was made part of the national park system, which is managed by the Interior Department, in 1962.

Marinscope Editor Soren Hemmila contributed to this report.

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