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Supreme Court strikes fatal blow for Drakes Bay Oyster Co.?

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Friday brought some good news to Drakes Bay Oyster Co. in its ongoing legal battle to remain at Point Reyes National Seashore – but bad news followed close behind on Monday.

The good news came from Marin County Superior Court, which on Friday overturned an order issued last year by the California Coastal Commission that some had called unfair and an abuse of power.

Friday’s ruling – which effectively stays, for now, a CCC order that the farm remove its equipment and shut down – was lauded by Drakes Bay supporters.

“This is a good day for California,” said Phyllis Faber, a Marin County biologist and founding member of the CCC, as quoted in a Drakes Bay news release. “The Coastal Commission had seriously abused its power. It was necessary to hold them accountable.”

The bad news arrived Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of lower court rulings supporting the Obama administration’s decision to evict Drakes Bay Oyster Co. from federal land.

Without comment, the justices left in place a January denial by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that marked the third time federal courts have rejected the farm’s bid to continue harvesting oysters at Drakes Estero, a federally protected 2,500-acre estuary.

The Supreme Court hears only about 100 of the 10,000 cases it receives each year, according to legal experts, and Drakes Bay Oyster Co. v. Jewell wasn’t one of them.

Drakes Bay harvests approximately a third of California’s total supply of farmed oysters – an estimated $1.5 million worth per year – from Drakes Estero. The area is home to protected species and will be reverted to wilderness under federal conservation plans.

In 2012, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar elected not to extend the company’s 40-year lease in the estuary, ostensibly ending a century-long tradition of oyster harvesting there.

Drakes Bay was acquired about a decade ago by the Lunny family, and company owner Kevin Lunny and his wife Nancy have strong ties to Sonoma, with several Lunny family members living here.

Lunny remained undeterred on Monday, telling reporters that he was disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision but “It ain’t over.”