U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement Thursday that he was allowing the oyster farm’s lease to expire took many by surprise – especially Drakes Bay Oyster Co. owner Lunny – whose family also operates a cattle ranch in the park.
“We expected a different decision. We really thought that there was a right and a wrong here, and we expected the secretary to make the right decision,” Lunny said.
Salazar’s move keeps intact a Congressional mandate from 1976 that sought to restore Drakes Estero to its natural state, removing the oyster racks and motor boats used to shuttle the shelled delicacies to and from shore. Environmentalists and the National Park Service said the farm disturbed harbor seal pupping, and damaged native plants.