[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.
More information about the Infozone