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Federal court upholds Calif. oyster farm closure

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a decision by Ken Salazar, the former secretary of the interior, to allow the lease of a popular oyster farm operating in the Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California to expire.

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Salazar had the authority not to renew Drakes Bay Oyster Co.’s lease.

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The farm had continued operating after its scheduled February closing date while the case was pending.

Now, the preliminary injunction that allowed it to stay open has been removed, and the next steps are still unclear.

Owner Kevin Lunny can appeal to the entire court to review the three-judge panel’s decision.

No decision had yet been made.

In November, Salazar said the waters in which Drakes Bay operates should be returned to wilderness status, as Congress designated in 1976.

After the region was turned into a national seashore in the 1960s, the farm’s previous owner, the Johnson Oyster Co., made a deal with the Interior Department to operate until its lease expired in November 2012.

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