Strings of mother shells that will contain baby oysters at  Drakes Bay Oyster Co.,  in 2007 photo. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Strings of mother shells that will contain baby oysters at Drakes Bay Oyster Co., in 2007 photo. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a last-ditch appeal from Marin County’s Drakes Bay Oyster Co., the Point Reyes business that has been fighting for a decade to renew its lease at Point Reyes National Seashore.

The Supreme Court’s decision came without comment and was one in a long list of cases that the tribunal announced it will not consider.

In a statement, Drakes Bay said it believes it still has not run out of legal moves:

“We are not yet out of options,” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. “While we had hoped the Supreme Court would grant our cert petition requesting a review of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, our Federal case against the government now returns to the District Court, where we will be making decisions over the next few weeks about how to proceed. We are extremely grateful to our customers and supporters for everything they have done for our family and our workers’ families over the years.”

Drakes Bay has lost successive rounds in its attempt to persuade federal courts that, by denying the oyster farm’s attempt to renew a lease that ran out in late 2012, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar had violated both federal environmental and administrative law.

Salazar refused to renew the lease based on 1970s legislation that directed the National Park Service to return Drakes Estero, where the oyster farm is located, to wilderness. Salazar’s decision required Lunny to shut down his operation and vacate the property.

Lunny’s statement leaves it unclear on what grounds he might pursue further court action. Drakes Bay has remained open during the 18 months of legal challenges to Salazar’s decision.

On Monday, KQED’s Mina Kim discussed Drakes Bay’s options with John Leshy, professor at UC Hastings College of Law:

  • Sam juno

    Very sad to lose a third of California local oyster production. Oysters are a superfood rich in amino acides, copper, zinc, selenium and iodine. Are we Californians going to have to eat BP tainted Lousiana oyster now? I’m pro widerness, but this is a paper wilderness issue. What can we do to stop this madness?


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke (Twitter: @danbrekke) has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at

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