Update, Tuesday 9:15 a.m.: A Monday federal court hearing didn’t shed any new light on exactly when the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will close, but lawyers for both the government and the Point Reyes oyster farm confirm they’re in discussions. The two sides told U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers during a case management hearing that they’re in settlement discussions.
But one of the attorneys for Drakes Bay owner Kevin Lunny told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Fagan that further legal action in the case is still possible. Lunny is challenging a November 2012 government decision not to renew the oyster farm’s lease at Point Reyes National Seashore.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” Bazel told Fagan. “The litigation is still pending.”
Original post: Federal government lawyers are expected to discuss a plan for “the prompt and orderly wind-down” of Drakes Bay Oyster Co. operations at Point Reyes National Seashore — marking the possible end of a decade-long regulatory and legal battle over the oyster farm.
Oyster company owner Kevin Lunny lost his apparent last-ditch appeal last week when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to orders from the Interior Department, backed up by lower court judges, to shut down his business on Drakes Estero.
Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to renew Drakes Bay’s lease in November 2012, citing a 1972 law that directed the National Park Service to restore the area to wilderness. Lunny purchased the farm in 2004 and had worked to persuade the park service that it should continue operating both for the sake of historical continuity and because its environmental impact was minimal.
On Monday afternoon, attorneys for the two sides are scheduled to meet in a case management conference with U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who upheld Salazar’s eviction order in February 2013. Salazar’s original directive, suspended during 18 months of court appeals, allowed Drakes Bay to continue operation for 90 days.
Following the Supreme Court’s action last week, government lawyers said they’d send Lunny and his attorneys a letter “asking that the parties enter into discussions concerning the prompt and orderly wind-down of the plaintiff’s [Lunny’s] operations.”
However, Lunny’s attorneys have held out the possibility of pursuing further legal action, perhaps through an amended lawsuit challenging Salazar’s 2012 order.