More Than 52,000 Comments Received On Future of Oyster Farm At Point Reyes National Seashore
Nearly 52,500 comments were received by the National Park Service on the future of an oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore, with submissions from each of the 50 states and 40 countries overall.
The comments, 52,473 in all, have been posted to the seashore's website if you're interested in reading them.
Seashore staff have been developing an Environmental Impact Statement assessing the operations of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and whether they are adversely impacting the seashore. The Draft EIS was released for public review back in December, and the final EIS is expected later this summer.
The correspondence received during the public comment period is available on the park’s web page in the form it was originally submitted by the author—web format, hard copy, and comments recorded on flip charts at the three public meetings held in October 2011, according to a seashore press release. Also available is the Content Analysis Report indicating correspondence distribution by state and country, organization type, correspondence type, and comment distribution by code.
Standard for projects of this level of public interest, the DEIS Notice of Availability in the Federal Register stated that bulk comments submitted on behalf of others will not be accepted. Bulk comments received during the public comment period are not posted online nor reflected in these numbers.
The oyster company is nearing the end of a 40-year lease that has allowed it to operate in Drakes Estero.
The estero long has been viewed for designation as official wilderness -- the 1976 legislation that set aside 25,370 acres of the seashore as wilderness cited another 8,003 acres encompassing the estero that would be "essentially managed as wilderness, to the extent possible, with efforts to steadily continue to remove all obstacles to the eventual conversion of these lands and waters to wilderness status" -- and the oyster operation is seen as being incompatible with such a designation.
The interest in the fate of an oyster company that produces between 450,000-500,000 pounds of Pacific oyster meat a year for Bay Area outlets has been fanned by both U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an ardent supporter of the oyster company and its small workforce, and environmentalists and conservationists who want to see the estero granted official wilderness designation.