Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ninth Circuit Rejects Oyster Farm's Appeal

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 10:20 AM

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a request from a controversial oyster farm to overturn a previous court ruling that ordered the business to close. Drakes Bay Oyster Company had asked the full Ninth Circuit to hear its appeal after a three-judge panel of the same court ruled against the oyster business last year. The latest ruling means that the only way the oyster farm would be able to remain open is if it seeks and is granted a hearing in front of the US Supreme Court. Chances of that happening, however, appear to be slim after the oyster farm's request for appeal was rejected by the entire Ninth Circuit — not a single judge asked to hear the case.

Drakes Estero
"We are exceedingly grateful for the court’s decision to support the full wilderness protection for the magnificent Drakes Estero,” said Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, referring to the oyster farm's location in Point Reyes National Seashore.

The court's ruling also upholds a November 2012 decision by then US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who refused to renew the oyster farm's lease after it expired at Point Reyes. Salazar had noted that the US government had never before extended a lease of a "non-conforming" business — like an oyster farm — on public land that had been designated by Congress to become full wilderness.

The oyster farm sued to overturn Salazar's decision. And conservative groups latched onto its cause in an attempt to expand the rights of private companies operating on public property. But the oyster business has now lost in three separate court rulings.

It's unclear whether it will now appeal to the Supreme Court.

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