POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE, Calif. -- A creaky wooden scow piled high with gnarled oysters slides over the water toward wooden racks hung with rows of the shellfish on Drakes Estero, a stunning estuary teeming with marine and bird life.
Then oystermen in green waders haul up 100-pound strings of the bivalves for Drakes Bay Oyster Co. – a chore that annually yields almost 40 percent of the California's commercial crop.
The oyster farming has endured here for more than 70 years in what is now Point Reyes National Seashore. But swirling around these peaceful waters about 50 miles north of San Francisco is a tumultuous and costly debate over whether the federal government should renew the farm's lease next year or convert the estuary to untouchable wilderness.
The rancor has reverberated all the way to Washington. (Read more...)