Success! West Coast’s First Marine Wilderness Secured
Thanks to Care2 members and a huge initiative to help protect marine life in northern California, Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar reported that he will uphold the 1976 Point Reyes Wilderness Act.
The act, which aims to preserve marine life in Drakes Estero, had been fighting against the pollution caused by a harmful oyster farm operation in place by Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Controversy brewed when the company asked for a new permit that would have further upset the balance of ecosystems in the Points Reyes National Seashore. Salazar’s refusal to renew the company’s fishing permit granted The Estero the nation’s highest resource protection status.
A large number of harbor seals call The Estero home, making the area one of the world’s largest mainland harbor seal breeding populations in the world. The beaches also play host to ideal habitats for eelgrass, which endangered salmon and various forage fish rely on for sustenance and shelter, and a number of diverse migratory and resident birds.
Barbara Salzman, president of the Marin Audubon Society, expresses optimism about the improvement opportunities now available for the area. “We look forward to working with the park to restore the estuary’s natural habitat and check the spread of invasive species,” she says, referring to non-native oysters introduced to the waters by the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.
Secretary Salazar will now file the Federal Register notice stating that the commercial operation and the use of motorboats have ceased in Drakes Estero. Full wilderness status will immediately go into effect, forcing current oyster operations to begin clean up. Drakes Bay Oyster Company have 90 days to start restoring the estuary’s natural ecology by removing non-native oysters.
Many thanks to all of you and Care2′s partner, The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), for helping bring about this major victory for the West Coast’s first marine wilderness!
Photo credit: mikebaird