Food Series: Drakes Bay Oyster Company—Death of a Community Icon with Kevin Lunny

The history of procedural and ethical missteps by the park service at Point Reyes is stunning in its complexity and boldness. From the beginning of our stewardship of the farm, false science has been used as the primary tool to divide a community, intimidate government officials, and ostracize our family. Our family-run oyster farm became Ground Zero for scientific misconduct in the United States.”
~ Kevin Lunny

By Pete Kennedy

Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California, was unique in our national park system. For over 50 years since an act of Congress created the park in 1962, wilderness, agriculture (mainly cattle ranchers), and mariculture coexisted at Point Reyes, with the mariculture activity being an oyster farm and cannery called Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) located at Drakes Estero. DBOC was an institution in the community, having started operations in the 1930s; it was the most popular destination at Point Reyes National Seashore, drawing 50,000 visitors a year.

All of that came to an end in 2014 when the National Park Service (NPS) succeeded in shutting down DBOC through a campaign of fraudulent data and misrepresentation of science. There was no accountability for the NPS and the massive fraud they perpetrated against DBOC in portraying the oyster farm as a threat to the environment and marine life at Drakes Estero. Although a Department of Interior Inspector General investigation cited three NPS employees for engaging in deliberate misrepresentation and misconduct against DBOC, there was no correction of the false record the employees created; each employee wound up receiving promotions with NPS.

DBOC’s operation benefited the environment and was a major supplier of high-quality oysters to the entire state of California, but NPS, working together with environmental groups and other federal and state government agencies, was able to shutter the oyster farm despite overwhelming support in the community.

Kevin Lunny and his brother were the last owners of DBOC. Kevin joins the audiocast to give his account of how a hard-working family business with 30 employees was closed down due to a “taxpayer-funded enterprise of corruption.”

The Biden administration‘s 30 x 30 Plan aims to take productive public land out of commission; Drakes Bay Oyster Company serves as a warning of the power a corrupt federal government possesses to make that happen.

In addition to having owned DBOC, Kevin Lunny, and his family also operate a ranch at Point Reyes. Now, the Lunny ranch and the other ranches at the park are under threat from NPS and environmental groups. Lunny will give a status report on the effort to force the ranchers out of Point Reyes and turn their land to wilderness.

Note: This will be Pete Kennedy’s last interview as the Host of the Solari Food Series. We want to thank him for outstanding contributions to our library of great leaders and intelligence on protecting and building our food supply and food freedom. Check out the full library of Pete’s great interviews at the Solari Food Series.

Money & Markets

This is the last week of the month, so there is no Money & Markets. The next Money & Markets will publish on June 1. Post questions for Catherine or John Titus at the Money & Markets commentary here.

Related Resources:

Drakes Bay Oyster Company & the National Park Service

Chronology of Drakes Estero (timeline of the effort to shut down DBOC)

How the National Park Service shut down a California treasure (May 18, 2015)

Point Reyes ranchers in the crosshairs (January 30, 2015)

The Framing of an Oyster Farm (video)

Other Resources:

The Solari Food Series

Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF)

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF)

Food Freedom Foundation (FFF)

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