Is New Court Ruling the End of the Line for Drakes Bay Oyster Company?
Drakes Bay Oyster Company is still fighting for the right to stay open, but today brought another blow to its legal battle. It's been a very complicated story to follow -- I wrote a long feature about the whole situation last April if you want the background -- but really all you need to know is that the oyster farm near Point Reyes has been legally appealing for the right to stay open since November 2012, when then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar ordered it to close.
Josh Edelson The few buildings that make up Drakes Bay Oyster Company.
In a 2-1 decision today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Drakes Bay Oyster Company's appeal for a rehearing on a previous ruling: the court's September 2013 decision to uphold Salazar's order.
Why did Salazar order it closed in the first place? Well, the oyster farm is located on the pristine 2,500-acre Drakes Estero -- land that belongs to the federal government as part of Point Reyes National Seashore. When the oyster farm's lease ran out 15 months ago, Salazar decreed it should close so the estuary could revert to marine wilderness, the highest level of government protection for land.
The farm has been allowed to stay open during the appellate appeals process, and though its counsel has intimated that the case could be taken all the way to the Supreme Court, the farm would need to get another court order to stay open during a new appeal. (If the farm closes, it may never reopen -- it would not only put a few dozen employees out of a job, but it would also destroy thousands of dollars worth of oyster stock in the water.)
We're still waiting for the official statement from the Drakes folks on their next steps, but this new decision is definitely a setback to the farm's battle to continue producing local oysters for the Bay Area.
Here's the full decision: