Drakes Bay Oyster Company, an oyster farm in the Point Reyes National Seashore, is at the center of a nationwide debate over what it means to preserve wilderness. When the national seashore was created, the oyster farm got a 40 year lease to operate on the park land. That lease expired at the end of 2012, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to renew it.
The farm’s owners are fighting the order on the grounds that Congress didn’t intend the lease to expire, and that the farm’s an integral part of the regional economy. They took their case to court last week, asking a federal judge for an injunction that would keep the farm open during litigation. The courtroom was packed, both with supporters of the oyster farm, and opponents. One of those is Neal Desai, of the National Parks Conservation Association.
It’s now up to a judge to decide whether the oyster farm can continue to operate. If she rules against the farm, it will close its doors at the end of next month.
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