Bill’s Blog

Welcome to my blog. In this blog I intend to address the questions that
I hear most around the bar. Let me know if there is any subjects you
want to learn more about.

The biggest story of 2013 was the eminent closure of the Drake’s Bay
Oyster Farm. Charlie Johnson founded this farm after World War 2. He
operated this farm in what later became the Point Reyes National
Seashore. Charlie’s sons, Ben and Tom, ran the farm until they sold it
to the Lunny family. The Lunny’s are 3rd generation dairy farmers and
their dairy surrounds Drake’s Estero, where the oyster farm is located.
The Lunny’s are the perfect people to own this farm because they have
the most reasons to make sure the Estero is not polluted from the
upland property activities.

As I traveled throughout Northern California this year I encountered
many signs saying “Save Drake’s Oyster Farm”. The issue came up on
a regular basis at the oyster bar. So what’s the deal? The National Park
Service decided to not renew the Lunny’s leases to farm oysters in
Drake’s Estero. They want to return the Estero to a pristine state. That
state does not include an oyster farm. So the Lunnys have been told to
stop farming in the Estero. The Lunny’s have fought the park’s
decision to not renew their lease. The park service’s decision to not
renew the Lunny’s leases has been upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals. I am not sure if the Lunnys are still harvesting oysters at this

So I have many questions about how the process of closing the farm
will go. Please understand that the Lunny’s are the second largest
producer of sustainably grown oysters in the state of California. The
Lunny’s are one of the largest employers in West Marin County. The
oysters belong to the Lunny family. Will they be allowed to harvest and
sell their oysters? Who will remove the growing structures? If the
oysters are abandoned, what is to prevent the locals from harvesting
the Lunny’s oysters?

On a bigger picture, who decides if an area needs to be returned to its
pristine state? Will the dam at Hetch Hetchy be removed? Will you (non
Mexican or Native American) be removed? I hope the decision to
restore Drake’s Estero goes to the Supreme Court. We will need
guidelines on how society chooses what sites can be or need to be
returned to their pristine status of days past.

– Bill

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