Friday, March 1, 2013

Strange Case of Oyster Farm in California – Are Some Environmentalists Too Aggressive?

What Exactly is the Problem Here?

A large oyster farming operation in California may have to close if the Department of the Interior has its way.  And the conflict exposes a  critical issue for those dedicated to environmentalism. In their admirable zeal to protect, defend and improve natural conditions are they going to far?  Here is the situation.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District, in San Francisco, ruled that the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which was scheduled to shut down in mid-March, could remain open until the court decided whether the company’s lawsuit challenging its eviction from the park could move forward. . . .

The farm’s 40-year lease to operate in Point Reyes, which was turned into a park in 1962 and parts of which Congress later mandated be designated as wilderness, expired last year. In November, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ended the lease as originally planned so the area could be returned to wilderness status, pleasing environmental groups like the Sierra Club.

So the area was to be turned back into a wilderness, which was apparently known, but the oyster farm is not only not environmentally destructive, but actually environmentally helpful in that oyster help strain and purify a water area.  There is also the added benefits of employment and, well oysters.

Heidi Schumann for The New York Times
Workers harvesting oysters for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company at its farm at Point Reyes National Seashore, near San Francisco.

There is a legal issue here, but the real question is why a compromise of some sort cannot be worked out.  After all, the environment is not at risk.  And maybe the environmental movement can win by losing, that is, get even greater support if it is shown to be rational and reasonable rather than unyielding and strident, even if they are in the right. 

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