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Feds file legal brief in Marin County oyster farm case

Feds file legal brief in Marin County oyster farm case
Workers harvest oysters from Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Developments continue apace in the saga of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and its legal battle with the federal government.

The Department of the Interior last week filed its brief ahead of the May 14 case before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the oyster farm in the Point Reyes National Seashore has been fairly treated by the National Park Service and it’s time for the operator to honor its agreement.

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The brief read, in part, “After forty years, it is not inequitable – rather, it is the essence of fairness – for the United States finally to gain control over the land that it purchased, enabling the American people to enjoy wilderness in Drakes Estero.”

Owner Kevin Lunny took over a lease within the park that expired last November and has been fighting since then to continue the business. Although his legal argument has failed in court — most recently in February — Lunny’s powerful political connections have kept the campaign alive.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein has twice authored riders aimed at helping the oyster farm stay open. A similar rider failed last month.

On Friday, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall seeking information about Salazar’s decision to not extend Lunny’s lease.


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