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South Sound Sierra Club Group (Thurston, Mason, Lewis, and Grays Harbor Counties)

The South Sound Sierra Club Group serves members in Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, and Lewis counties.

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Article from Marin Independent Journal:

Is there a connection between the Koch brothers and free legal aid provided to Drakes Bay Oyster Co.?

"The head of Cause of Action, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit representing the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in its lawsuit against the federal government, has had ties to the Koch brothers, wealthy industrialists who have funded ultra-conservative and libertarian policy and advocacy groups, most notably the Tea Party." Read more...

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January 28, 2013 (Monday), at Traditions Cafe (Olympia):

             Public is invited to a Special Carnegie Group Meeting

   5:30: informal discussion, eat, drink, etc.

   6:45: Lisa Remlinger (formerly of Olympia) will explain the legislative priorities of the Environmental Coalition and answer our questions.

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Send Comments by Feb. 5 on City of Olympia Shoreline Master Program

The Olympia City Council is currently working with City staff to review and update Olympia's Shoreline Master Program.

Written comments may be submitted to the Olympia Community Planning and Development Department, P.O. Box 1967, Olympia, WA 98507-1967, or emailed to shorelineupdate@ci.olympia.wa.us by 5 pm on February 5, 2013.

Go the Community Planning & Developmant website for more information and to see the draft SMP.

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    Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will have to leave Point Reyes  

            by Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Thursday the Drakes Bay Oyster Co.'s operating permit will expire at Point Reyes National Seashore on Friday, returning Drakes Estero to wilderness.

"I've taken this matter very seriously," Salazar said in a written statement. "We've undertaken a robust public process to review the matter from all sides, and I have personally visited the park to meet with the company and members of the community.

"I believe it is the right decision for Point Reyes National Seashore and for future generations who will enjoy this treasured landscape."

Drakes Bay Oyster Co. Kevin Lunny received a call from Salazar at 9:40 a.m. informing him of the decision.

"This is beyond imaginable," Lunny said. "We felt confident the secretary would make a different decision."

Last week, Salazar came to tour the operation and to speak to Lunny and his supporters, as well as to meet with opponents of the oyster company.

Lunny said he is not sure what will happen to the company's 30 employees and the on-site housing where about half of them live.

Also uncertain is the fate of some 8 million to 10 million oysters that are currently in the water, growing in various stages of development.

The oysters would have a market value of about 50 cents each, but the last of them will not be ready to harvest for another two years, Lunny said.

"This is a devastating blow, but we would like the people of Marin County to know we appreciate the overwhelming support that we've felt," he said.

The oyster company — which made about $1.5 million annually — will have to remove its personal property from the lands and waters within 90 days. Salazar has asked the National Park Service to help the employees who are affected by the decision, including assisting with relocation, employment opportunities and training. Drakes Estero has been in commercial oyster production for nearly 100 years.

The oyster farm has a lease allowing it to grow and harvest oysters in Drakes Estero in the Point Reyes National Seashore, a national park. But a 40-year lease that began in 1972 expires Friday. Now the estero will become the only marine wilderness area on the West Coast.

Park officials have maintained they signed a 40-year lease with the Johnson's Oyster Co. in 1972 with the understanding that the 2,200-acre estero would become a wilderness when it expired this year.

But that was contested by Lunny, who took over the lease in 2004, saying there is a provision to extend it. The oyster farm has outspoken supporters, including Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who was critical of the decision.

"I am extremely disappointed that Secretary Salazar chose not to renew the operating permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company," Feinstein said. "The National Park Service's review process has been flawed from the beginning with false and misleading science, which was also used in the environmental impact statement."

The park service has voiced concern about the oyster operation's impact on eelgrass, fish, harbor seals and other wildlife and produced data indicating it was causing environmental damage. But Lunny supporters said the park service manipulated facts and figures to portray the oyster operation in a poor light.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune lauded the decision.

"We're thrilled that after three decades this amazing piece of Point Reyes National Seashore will finally receive the protections it deserves," he said. "Once the oyster factory operations are removed, as originally promised ... this estuary will quickly regain its wilderness characteristics and become a safe haven for marine mammals, birds and other sea life."

The decision also ensures that, in keeping with the historic use of the land, existing sustainable ranching operations within the national park will continue, Salazar said.

He directed the National Park Service to pursue extending the terms of agriculture permits from 10 years to 20 years to provide greater certainty and clarity for the ranches operating within the national park's pastoral zone and to support the continued presence of sustainable ranching and dairy operations.

There has been concern that if the oyster operation was removed, the ranches would be next.

During his visit Salazar drew distinction between the oyster operation and ranches inside the park, calling them "separate issues."

The oyster issue divided West Marin, which was acknowledged by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey in her statement on the decision.

"The dispute over Drakes Bay Oyster Co. has been a divisive one in our community for many years. On both sides of this issue, there are passionate people of great conviction," the Petaluma Democrat said. " All of them care deeply about the estero, about local agriculture, about environmental protection and about the future of our community. It took a cabinet-level decision, authorized by an act of Congress, to resolve this matter." She added: "Now that this long process has run its course, it is my hope that we can put the contentiousness behind us and move forward as a united community."

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Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire recently announced an initiative that puts over $4 million towards cleaning up the waters of Puget Sound. It promotes shellfish as a major part of the clean up effort.

Listen to or read Ashley Ahearn's discussion with Laura Hendricks, head of the Sierra Club’s Marine Ecosystem Campaign in Washington, to get another perspective on the new initiative at http://earthfix.opb.org/water/article/whats-wrong-with-governor-gregoires-washington-sta/ .

Also, read PCC Natural Food Market's piece, "Washington shellfish initiative: Is it sustainable?", raising valid questions about the Governor's initiative.

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Learn about our campaign to protect whales and Puget Sound wildlife from marine plastic debris

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