Undercutting the trope that the lawsuit by a Marin County, California oyster farm to keep operating is all a right-wing plot (see also this story), famed Berkeley chef and food guru Alice Waters has asked the Ninth Circuit to file an amicus brief in support of Drakes Bay Oyster Company in its appeal of the District Court's denial of its request for a preliminary injunction. As we noted here, the Secretary of the Interior denied the Company's efforts to renew its license for its decades-old farming operation in the Point Reyes National Seashore. The Ninth Circuit has issued an injunction pending appeal, and ordered expedited calendaring.
Joining Waters on the brief is another nearby oyster farmer (located on private land), a San Francisco restaurant, the California Farm Bureau and two county farm bureaus, and "Food Democracy Now," "Marin Organic," and the "Alliance For Local Sustainable Agriculture."
The point of the brief is to repudiate the notion expressed by what the brief calls "traditional conservationists and wilderness advocates" that a human or commercial presence in the area is repugnant. A fine example of that appears in a quote in this story on the case from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Conservation groups were pleased [with Interior's decision to shut down the farm]. The ruling "affirms that our national parks will be safe from privatization schemes, and that special places like Drakes Estero will rise above attempts to hijack Americans' wilderness," said Neal Desai of the National Parks Conservation Association.
We're not sure how an operation that has been there since the 1930's -- well before the existence of the National Seashore -- can be considered "hijacking" of wilderness or a "privatization scheme," but there you have a reflection of a certain mindset in a tidy little quote. As a reminder we provide the above video, a classic bit from The Matrix wherein the bad guy expresses this thoughts on humans and the environment.
Waters' amicus brief begins:
There is no single voice that can speak for the "public interest" in keeping the Drakes Bay Oyster Company [Oyster Farm or DBOC] open until the Secretary of the Department of the Interior’s [DOI] Order to close can be reviewed.
Closing the Oyster Farm would have a broad, negative and immediate impact, on the local economy and the sustainable agriculture and food industry in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the school children of the workers who live in the housing units onsite, and, in the longer term, on food security and the U.S. balance of trade. Closing down the oyster farm in Drakes Estero, which has existed since the early 1930s, would be inconsistent with the best thinking of the modern environmental movement and further tear at the fabric of an historic rural community that the Point Reyes National Seashore [Seashore] was created to help preserve.On the other hand, the sounds of motorcycles racing by Drakes Estero on the adjacent highway will not cease if the Oyster Farm is closed. The ranches that surround Drakes Estero will remain in the area zoned "pastoral" right up to its shoreline. California’s retained fishing and mineral rights in Drakes Estero will still exist. Closing down the Oyster Farm would simply be a mark in the “win column” for the National Park Service [NPS] and other traditional conservationists, wilderness advocates stuck in an archaic and discredited preservationist paradigm, whose apparent aim is to convert Drakes Estero to titular wilderness status at any cost.
Br. at 1-2 (emphasis original). Pages 10-14 detail how "the environmental movement is evolving ... to become more 'people friendly and to deal with 'working landscapes,' including fisheries." The brief is also worth reading for its history of shellfish farming in California and the impacts, vel non, of oyster cultivation on the environment.