AP Photo/Eric RisbergU.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Decision about Drakes Bay oyster farming expected this week

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visited Marin County last week on a fact-finding mission to decide the fate of a family-run oyster farm in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Salazar met with the owners of the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. and toured its harvesting and canning operations before meeting with environmentalists and National Park Service officials.

The interior secretary is expected to decide this week whether to allow the oyster farm to continue operating in the national seashore. The company is seeking a 10-year extension of its lease, which expires Nov. 30.

Environmentalists and park officials say the oyster farm’s operations threaten nearby harbor seals and other native species. They want the waters of Drakes Estero returned to wilderness.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the National Academy of Sciences have charged that the National Parks Service is trying to get rid of the oyster farm by exaggerating its negative impacts on the environment.

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