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article imageHas last California oyster cannery taken its last breath?

By Nathan Salant     Jun 30, 2014 in Environment
Washington, D. C. - California's last oyster cannery may just about be on its last breath Monday after the US Supreme Court refused to hear the operation's final challenge to an order to shut down.
The justices upheld without comment a decision by a federal appeals court upholding a 2012 order from the US Interior Department to shut Drakes Bay Oyster Co.'s operations when its lease expired.
The oyster farm has operated in Drakes Estero, now part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, for the past 80 years.
Its 40-year lease expired in 2012 but the operation has remained open while its challenge was pending, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Oyster company owner Kevin Lunny, who bought the operation in 2004 with full knowledge of the 2012 closure date, maintained that the oyster farm was environmentally friendly and important to the local economy.
But environmentalists argued that the commercial operation was incompatible with a national wilderness area, which the area was designated in 1962.
As the court battle progressed, Lunny accused the agencies and environmental advocates that were opposed to renewing the lease as "wilderness extremists who want to rid the area of agricultural and commercial operations," the newspaper said.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein [Unlink], the former San Francisco mayor who now chairs the US Senate's Intelligence Committee, successfully sponsored a bill in 2009 to authorize a 10-year extension to Lunny's lease.
But then-Interior Secretary Ray Salazar refused to allow the renewal, finding instead that oyster harvesting did not belong in a wilderness area.
Two federal courts subsequently reviewed and upheld Salazar's decision, the newspaper said.
More about Oyster, Drakes Bay, California, Coast, estero
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