Federal officials are shutting down the historic Drakes Bay Oyster Company along Point Reyes National Seashore so that the area can be returned to wilderness.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the decision on Thursday after a years-long environmental battle over the site. Salazar said he will not renew the company’s lease, which was set to expire on Friday, and is giving Drakes Bay Oyster Co. 90 days to cease operations.

Environmentalists cheered the decision, which returns the Drake Estero to the state of wilderness that Congress designated for it in 1976. Congress designated much of Point Reyes to be turned into a National Seashore, handing out permits to allow existing farms to continue operations.

Drakes Bay owner Kevin Lunny and supporters, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, had argued about the important role the oyster farm plays for the rural economy. Drakes Bay oysters comprise almost 40 percent of California’s shellfish production and are marketed exclusively in the Bay Area. The oyster farm is also the second largest employer within Point Reyes National Seashore, employing 30 full time workers while also providing housing for many of them.

 

 

Photo Credit: Drakes Bay Oyster Co.