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Fate of Bay Area oyster farm included in Senate budget bill

March 22, 2013|By Julie Cart
  • Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., right, looks down from a barge as his sister Ginny Cummings looks over oyster sticks that have been harvested at the oyster farm in the Point Reyes National Seashore in December 2009.
Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., right, looks down from a barge… (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles…)

This post has been corrected. See below for details.

The owners of the oyster farm fighting to continue operating in Point Reyes National Seashore continue to flex their political muscles, this time gaining the support of U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana.

Vitter joined Sen. Dianne Feinstein to attach a rider in the Senate budget resolution that would allow the controversial farm to remain operating in the park for another 10 years.

[For the record, 8:04 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly called the Senate budget resolution a bill.]

If passed, the amendment would circumvent another of Feinstein's riders, that gave the Interior secretary the discretion to extend the farm's lease. Ken Salazar declined to do so, a decision that owner Kevin Lunny is challenging in court.

Feinstein has been campaigning to allow Lunny's operation to remain in the park, even though Lunny signed on to a lease that expired at the end of last year. His fight has been assisted by three law firms, a lobbyist and a Washington, D.C.,-based government accountability group.

The land and waters in Drakes Estero that Lunny leases from the National Park Service are scheduled to become the West Coast's first marine wilderness area once the oyster operation is shut down. A hearing on Lunny's appeal is scheduled for May.

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julie.cart@latimes.com

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