I have visited the Drake's Bay oyster farm since the late 1960s and more recently tried to track the facts and claims made for and against the continued operation. I have also worked with scientists and medical researchers in areas ranging from cancer epidemiology to estuarine habitats to toxicology and municipal waste streams.
While there may or may not be substance to the claims of misrepresented data and research with regard to perturbations in the Drake's estuary, I can safely say that they are ultimately trivial in the face of much more serious lapses in science and practice that are common and endemic to government institutions and universities. Even peer-reviewed science may be flawed or incomplete after journal publication. Hundreds of millions of federal dollars are misspent on ill-conceived or naïve projects. What differentiates Drake's Bay is not so much substance but its unfortunate politicization at the national and community level.
The fate of the oyster farm and estuary should not rest on a discussion of scientific peccadillos. The heading "Scientific Integrity Lost on America's Parks" is in itself inflammatory and unwarranted.
I am deeply saddened by the divisive impact this discussion has had on the West Marin community. I know and respect most of the participants, scientists, writers and officials. We are all worthy of better than this.
Ideally the resolution will rest on an honest accounting of law and procedure... alas, the rule of law remains in the hands of imperfect men and women. What would the next generation (children) do?
As an environmental activist and litigant, my perspective is that we--collectively and individually--are faced with much larger and more difficult problems of global consequence. Let's not waste any more time on a TV-grade melodrama. Drake's Bay will probably outlast many other declining marine resources, farm or not.
It is noteworthy that NPS staff are already planning for radical changes in sea level at Drakes Bay parking lots and in Tomales Bay due to climate change. It's likely Drake's Bay is in for some major changes within the next decades, no matter commercial oyster farms.
When this is done with, I'll host an oyster BBQ for all concerned.
Mill Valley, CA
Oct 30 2009 - 10:48pm