After nearly a decade of negotiations, scientific studies, congressional intervention and protracted legal skirmishing, the National Park Service and Drakes Bay Oyster Co. announced Monday they've reached agreement on terms for the firm's final exit from Point Reyes National Seashore.
Under the deal announced by both sides -- formally, a proposed consent decree (embedded below) that still needs federal court approval -- Drakes Bay will be allowed to continue harvesting shellfish from the national park's Drakes Estero through Dec. 31. After losing its final legal round in June, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear its case, the company had expressed concern about the large number of salable oysters it might have to dump if forced to shut down immediately.
The company shut down retail operations at the oyster farm at the end of July. It has continued to sell to wholesalers while owner Kevin Lunny and his attorneys negotiated with the park service.
Monday's agreement also addresses the contentious issue of how and when the oyster company's infrastructure, including miles of creosote-coated wooden racks, will be removed from the estero. Drakes Bay has agreed to work with park officials to identify all of its unused racks and other equipment and allow it to be removed immediately.
Finally, the agreement also includes a promise by the National Park Service to help Drakes Bay workers relocate.