It's a salty Christmas miracle for Drakes Bay Oyster Company -- albeit a temporary one.
The bivalve purveyor in Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco, was set to be dissolved at the end of the year: equipment dismantled, employees laid off, land vacated. This was the plan all along for the feds, who had issued a 40-year lease to the company with the intent of its expiration on Jan. 1, 2013, at which time the land would be returned to federal wilderness and cute scampering seals on the Point Reyes National Seashore.
After the Interior Department refused to extend the company's lease for another 10 years, Drakes vowed to fight the decision and filed suit. Now it's reached at least a temporary agreement with Interior. From the Marin Independent Journal:
Under the agreement, the oyster company which has long been a fixture in Point Reyes National Seashore may continue activities involving planting and growing new oysters in the water at Drakes Estero, avoiding layoffs of one-third of its 30 employees right before the holidays ...
Under the agreement, the oyster company has withdrawn its request for a temporary restraining order and instead will file a motion for a preliminary injunction challenging [Interior Secretary Kenneth] Salazar's decision.
A hearing is set for Jan. 25 on the injunction.
Everyone loves them some seals, even in molting season (this is saying a lot, seals), and many environmentalists -- the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, other usual suspects -- support closing the farm, citing the importance of pure wilderness. But many other environmentalists support letting it stay, and their voices have grown stronger over the past couple of weeks. Writes Earth Island Journal editor Jason Marks: