In removing the historic oyster farm from Drakes Estero, the Park Service misrepresented science, law, and history.

The Park Service leveled false charges of environmental harm against an upstanding family business, and falsely claimed that its policies required the historic oyster farm to be removed. The agency even falsified scientific information, as reported in Newsweek in January 2015.

The truth about the Drakes Bay Oyster controversy is that this historic oyster farm was part of the working landscape the Seashore was formed to protect. The Lunnys, a third-generation Point Reyes ranching family, purchased the oyster farm in 2004 and were superb stewards of the land and water. 

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, Kevin Lunny testified at a Congressional hearing entitled “Zero Accountability: The Consequences of Politically Driven Science.” The subcommittee’s press release, which includes portions of Kevin Lunny’s testimony, is here.

Congress and the NPS Culture of Corruption

Don Neubacher, who as Superintendent of Point Reyes National Seashore leveled the false charges against the oyster farm, and Jon Jarvis, who as Pacific West Regional Director oversaw the cover-up, were both promoted, Neubacher to Yosemite and Jarvis to Director, NPS. Both have now left under a cloud.

Congress investigateNPS misconduct under Director Jarvis several times in 2016. “After the two previous hearings, quite frankly, I’ve been shocked at the culture of corruption and misconduct that has been allowed to persist at the National Park Service,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), who called for Jarvis to resign.

Crimes and cover-ups at the agency include sexual harassment by NPS employees in the Grand Canyon and the suspected destruction of documents relevant to the case of a boy who died at a National Park. Director Jarvis himself was found guilty of skirting ethics regulations and then covering up his actions in the face of an IG investigation. When congressional investigations of mismanagement and sexual harassment in the Park Service broadened to include a “toxic work environment” at Yosemite National Park, Superintendent Neubacher was removed from his position; the NPS on-the-record statement is here. On January 3, 2017, Director Jarvis retired in disgrace. Congressional investigations continue. 

So-Called True Story Is Largely Fiction

In 2015, a book was published called The Oyster War. The book conveys the false narrative promulgated by the Park Service and its allies. Click here to read a review of the book. Click here for a list of errors and distortions.

Cartoons by George Russell


“Drakes Bay Oyster is a great local subject,” says cartoonist George Russell. His editorial cartoons about the Drakes Bay Oyster controversy are widely admired. “My views are expressed in the cartoons. Since I get to draw what I want, I draw what I feel on the subject. It’s always fun to stick up for the underdog, and I think the NPS has been a bit of a bully in this case. The Lunnys are great fighters and it’s great to see that they are taking on the NPS.” To see more George Russell cartoons and read more about the artist, click here.

Oysters Help the Environment

All over the world, oyster-restoration projects are taking place to improve the ecosystem. Native oysters once provided these ecological services, but they have been over-fished. It’s estimated that 85% of the world’s oysters have been lost. Oyster farming and oyster restoration projects are making up for this loss.To read more click here

The Wilderness Illusion

As Drakes Bay Oyster Farm fought to stay in business, a group of anti-oyster-farm activists worked for its demise. Much of the Drakes Bay Oyster controversy was manufactured by this one small group of mostly-paid professional activists whose tactics included spreading false information about the Lunny family’s farming practices. These troublemakers claimed they were advancing the cause of “wilderness.” To read more click here