Drakes Bay Oyster Co. has won a reprieve from the closure order of the Department of Interior. Late Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction temporarily blocking the scheduled March 15 closure of the long-time oyster farm in Drake’s Estero north of San Francisco.
The appeals court ordered briefs from both sides and set the case for hearing during the week of May 13-17 in San Francisco.
The farm was ordered closed at the end of its 40-year lease because it is in the 2,200-acre Point Reyes National Seashore and the Dept. of Interior and environmentalists want the land returned to wilderness conditions. They argue the farm’s motor boats and equipment threaten nearby seals and pollute the waters.
Congress added the area to the national part system in 1962, which includes 80 miles of California coastline.
The Johnson Oyster Co. operated the farm under a 40-year lease, which began in 1972, from the park service on 1.5 acres of land. The federal government bought the land from the Johnson family in 1972 for $79,200 and provided the lease to operate. Lunny bought the lease in 2004 and was warned it would not be extended past the 2012 expiration. The Lunny’s are fighting to get a 10-year extension on the lease.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Yvonne G. Rogers refused to overturn the closure order, which set the clock ticking for the farm.
The 9th Circuit order will keep the farm in operation until at least this summer, to give the court time to hear the case and decide the issue.
Case: Drakes Bay Oyster Co. v. Salazar, No. 13-15227