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US deny oyster farm lease renewal

SAN FRANCISCO — A historic Northern California oyster farm along Point Reyes National Seashore will be shut down and the site converted to a wilderness area, US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Thursday.

Salazar said he will not renew the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. lease that expires Friday. The move will bring a close to a long environmental battle over the site.

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‘‘After careful consideration of the applicable law and policy, I have directed the National Park Service to . . . return the Drakes Estero to the state of wilderness that Congress designated for it in 1976,’’ Salazar said in a statement.

Salazar visited the oyster farm last week and said he did not make the decision lightly.

Point Reyes National Seashore protects more than 80 miles of California coastline.

The Interior secretary also has the power to lease the park’s lands for dairy and cattle-ranching purposes. Currently there are 15 beef and dairy ranches operating along the Point Reyes seashore. Those ranches will remain open under the decision Thursday.

Oyster farm owner Kevin Lunny, whose family also operates one of the cattle ranches, said he was disappointed by the decision and was still trying to figure out his next move. He had been asking for a 10-year extension of his lease.

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