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New Lease Denied for Drakes Bay Oyster Farm

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Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in Point Reyes [Photo: Jeffrey Strain]

A long-standing oyster farm along Point Reyes National Seashore will be shut down and the site converted to a wilderness area. The National Park Service denied the Drakes Bay Oyster Company's request for a lease renewal after a year-long battle, ending the 80 year business. The oyster farm was shut down because environmentalists say its operations threatened nearby harbor seals and other native species. Not everyone agreed though - Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the National Academy of Sciences have the farm's negative impacts on the environment have been exaggerated. Two different filmmakers have documented the controversy between Drakes Bay Oyster Company and the National Park Service. In addition to the loss of about 30 jobs, some employees will lose their homes too, as half live in on-site housing provided by the company.

Point Reyes National Seashore was established in 1962, but some of the land is leased for dairy and cattle-ranching purposes, and those cattle ranch leases will be extended for up to 10 to 20 years. Drakes Bay was just this year listed as National Historic Landmark Historic and Archeological District, as "the earliest documented cross-cultural encounter between California Indians and Europeans" and likely 1580 landing site of Sir Francis Drake.
· Drakes Bay Oyster Company Denied Lease Renewal [Huff Post]
· Drakes Bay Oyster Co. [DBOC]
· Workers devastated by oyster farm closure [Marin IJ]
· Drakes Bay Historic and Archeological District [NPS]