[Infozone] newsclip: Marin Independent - editorial - Editorial: Pt. Reyes park oyster flap deserves fair hearing

David_Barna at nps.gov David_Barna at nps.gov
Tue Nov 22 11:36:30 EST 2011

 Editorial: Pt. Reyes park oyster flap deserves fair hearing                
 Marin Independent Journal Editorial                                        
 REP. LYNN Woolsey has spoken out against a congressional investigation     
 into the National Park Service's controversial handling of an oyster       
 company's lease at Point Reyes National Seashore.                          
 Woolsey says the investigation called by Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of    
 the House Committee for Governmental Oversight and Reform, is a waste of   
 time and money, all in an attempt to score political points off the Drakes 
 Bay Oyster Co. debate.                                                     
 She's a little late to raise that point — the oyster farm has been in the  
 eye of a political storm for years.                                        
 In fact, Woolsey had backed a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to extend  
 the oyster company's lease that park officials and many conservationists   
 say expires next year. Woolsey favored a one-time, 10-year extension for   
 the Drakes Bay company, a local example of successful mariculture.         
 Issa, A Republican from San Diego County, says he wants to get to the      
 bottom of complaints that park officials, park service top brass and       
 scientists trumped up or slanted scientific findings to build a case for   
 closing the oyster company. Issa has ordered park officials to testify,    
 first by deposition, and to turn over documents.                           
 Woolsey is concerned that Republicans see the controversy as a way to      
 attack the Obama administration's attitude toward small business. The      
 investigation also coincides with a federal environmental review of the    
 oyster farm and whether its lease can be extended beyond the 2012 deadline 
 established by Congress 35 years ago.                                      
 There's no way to untangle this debate from politics, whether they are     
 local, state and national.                                                 
 The issue has sharply divided many prominent local environmentalists who   
 are allies on most causes.                                                 
 There are many who say the intent of Congress was clear when it set aside  
 the oyster farm site as future wilderness. They say the park service has   
 lived up to its end of the bargain, buying the property and letting the    
 farm stay in business until 2012. But others say the Lunny family has      
 turned the oyster farm into a strong example of tradditional mariculture   
 that deserves to keep operating.                                           
 The split has deepened because of the park service's politically tainted   
 scientific attack on the oyster farm, which clumsily contended the company 
 is damaging harbor seals and eel grass in the estero.                      
 Issa's motivation likely is political. Woolsey is right to call him on it, 
 but not to call for a stop to an open hearing process that might provide   
 clarity to a murky controversy that appears to have more than its share of 
 bureaucratic bungling that should not be swept under the carpet.           
 If hearing are called, Woolsey should attend and point out if Issa and     
 Republicans veer away from fair fact-finding and into political            
 fabrication and grandstanding.                                             
 With her involvement, some good — and perhaps even solutions — could come  
 from a public hearing. Squashing public review of the controversy and the  
 National Park Service's handling of the matter is not the way to resolve   
 this debate. Neither is a political witch hunt.                            

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