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Drakes Bay Oyster Farm Not Giving Up After High Court Declines To Hear Appeal

by John Nuño
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Drakes Bay Oyster Co. customers have picnic lunches with fresh oysters on April 16, 2014 in Inverness, CA (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. customers have picnic lunches with fresh oysters on April 16, 2014 in Inverness, CA (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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POINT REYES (KCBS) — The owners of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. are still not giving up on keeping their operation open after The Supreme Court declined to hear the popular farm’s appeal to help keep them open at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place lower court rulings against the West Marin oyster farm.

“This is a disappointment, but not really a setback” farm company owner Kevin Lunny told media on Monday. “We do plan to continue to fight for what’s right.”

In November of 2012 Then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered Drake’s Bay to shut down ending a 40-year lease with the National Park Service stating that the waters of Drakes Estero are a preserve and should be returned to wilderness status.

Lunny and his wife Nancy have been seeking relief in the courts ever since. Now that they appear to have lost, their attorneys plan to try and keep Drakes Bay open by appealing to Congress or state leaders to ask them to intervene.

“If this sort of treatment goes allowed, we feel it could empower those that are looking to remove agriculture from not only the Point Reyes National Seashore, but perhaps federal lands across the nation,” Kevin Lunny said.

When Lunny took over the business in 2005, he said there was a longstanding agreement with the Park Service that he could continue harvesting oysters.

“The Park Service changed their opinion and then later decided that they did not have the authority to renew,” he told KCBS on Sunday.

Lunny received a favorable ruling from a Marin County judge on Thursday blocked that the California Coastal Commission’s does not have jurisdiction and that he could ignore their cease-and-desist order.

The company appealed to the high court in April after a federal trial judge in Oakland and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused to block Salazar’s decision.

Now that the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case, the 9th Circuit ruling denying a preliminary injunction that would block the closure will go into effect. The farm had been allowed to keep operating during the appeal.

The private farm grows oysters on 1,000 acres of submerged land in Drakes Estero, an estuary of Drakes Bay, and packages them on 1.5 acres of land along the shoreline.

The farm will remain open for the time being. The case is Drakes Bay Oyster Co. v. Jewell, 13-1244.

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