Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Thursday the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s operating permit will expire at Point Reyes National Seashore on Friday, returning Drakes Estero to wilderness.
“I’ve taken this matter very seriously,” Salazar said in a written statement. “We’ve undertaken a robust public process to review the matter from all sides, and I have personally visited the park to meet with the company and members of the community.
“I believe it is the right decision for Point Reyes National Seashore and for future generations who will enjoy this treasured landscape.”
Drakes Bay Oyster Co. Kevin Lunny received a call from Salazar at 9:40 a.m. informing him of the decision.
“This is beyond imaginable,” Lunny said. “We felt confident the secretary would make a different decision.”
Last week, Salazar came to tour the operation and to speak to Lunny and his supporters, as well as to meet with opponents of the oyster company.
Lunny said he is not sure what will happen to the company’s 30 employees and the on-site housing where about half of them live.
Also uncertain is the fate of some 8 million to 10 million oysters that are currently in the water, growing in various stages of development.
The oysters would have a market value of about 50 cents each, but the last of them will not be ready to harvest for another two years, Lunny said.
ht/ Mary from Marin