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National Park Service Seeks Public Comment on Commercial Shellfish Operations in Point Reyes National Seashore

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Date: September 23, 2011
Contact: Melanie Gunn, 415-464-5131

Point Reyes Station - The National Park Service made available today a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating the potential issuance of a Special Use Permit for a commercial shellfish operation in Drakes Estero in Point Reyes National Seashore. On November 30, 2012, a 40-year-old agreement that allows such activities in a national park will expire and the commercial shellfish operations within the park will cease, unless a new permit is issued.

The Draft EIS evaluates four alternatives, from "no-action" under which the existing agreement to operate will expire and the area would be converted to wilderness, to the issuance of a new 10-year permit at differing levels of operation, including one that reflects the level in shellfish production requested by the current operator. All public comments received on the Draft EIS will be evaluated and considered in the development of the NPS selection of a preferred alternative that will be identified in the Final EIS.

"This is an important decision that is best made with meaningful public input," said Superintendent Cicely Muldoon. "Our recommendation to the Secretary will be based on the principles that guide such decisions in all national parks, including fidelity to the law, the best available sound science, and the long-term public interest. We invite all to weigh in and make their voices heard."

Drakes Estero was designated as potential wilderness by Congress and could be administratively designated as wilderness by the Secretary of the Interior at such point that non-conforming uses end. The commercial shellfish operations represent the only current non-conforming use in Drakes Estero.

In 2009, Congress passed Public Law 111-88 giving the Secretary of the Interior the discretion to issue a new permit to allow the business to operate for an additional 10 years. A special use permit is required for activities that provide a benefit to a specific individual, group or organization and for those activities requiring some degree of management from the National Park Service to protect park resources and the larger public interest.

The National Park Service, a bureau within the Department of the Interior, recognizes high interest in the science related to Point Reyes. The Department has an established policy for scientific integrity and issues raised are being reviewed under that policy and its established processes.

The Draft Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit EIS is open for review and comment through November 29, 2011. The Draft EIS is available on the NPS Public Comment site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/pore. Copies may also be obtained at park headquarters.

Comments may be submitted online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/pore, or by mailing or hand delivering comments to: Draft EIS DBOC SUP c/o Superintendent, Point Reyes National Seashore, 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956; or at one of the public meetings below.

The National Park Service will host three public open-house meetings for the public to ask questions and comment.
Tuesday, October 18, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Dance Palace Community Center, 503 B Street, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Wednesday, October 19, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Fort Mason Center, Building D, San Francisco, CA 94123
Thursday, October 20, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Tamalpais High School Student Center, 700 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941

A Spanish language interpreter will be present at each of the above meetings.

Sign language interpreters, as well as agendas in large print, Braille or audio formats can be made available by request at least two weeks prior to the meeting.

-NPS-

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