<b>Treasure lost</b>

EDITOR: I was deeply saddened (yet not surprised) that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to extend the permit for Drakes Bay Oyster Co., yielding to pressure from environmental groups, the powerful Sierra Club, area politicians except for Sen. Dianne Feinstein and, quite wittingly, The Press Democrat with its Oct. 15 front-page headline, photo and story ("Goo invades estuary"), which probably put the nail in the coffin.

Claimed as a win for the people, it really is not. Taxpayer money was expended by the National Park Service for studies to justify the decision. It is a win for special interest advocates. Lost are long-standing jobs and a local business. Lost is a wonderful place for us to visit and procure fresh oysters at the source.

If restoring wilderness is truly the objective, the roads to Point Reyes should be terminated beyond Inverness and Olema, and the dairy ranch permits also terminated. Believe me, we the people would awaken and not abide that decision. Interesting isn't it that Salazar simultaneously extended all 15 ranch leases citing their long and important history on the Point Reyes peninsula?

We lost a treasure.


Santa Rosa

<b>Paying the piper</b>

EDITOR: Since the Reagan years the federal government has been borrowing money from the Social Security trust fund to pay for its general expenses. Why? Because politicians didn't want to raise taxes or cut programs unrelated to Social Security. It was convenient politics to borrow from the trust fund and make it look like the deficit was lower. Now that the debt to the trust fund has to be paid off in order to pay promised Social Security benefits, shameless hucksters such as columnist Charles Krauthammer are crying that these benefits must be cut ("Is Obama ready to jump off the fiscal cliff?" Saturday). It's time to pay the piper. We who have paid into Social Security our entire lives already have.



<b>Giving credit</b>

EDITOR: In response to Rick Harder's letter ("Obama and oysters," Sunday) about the closure of Drakes Bay Oyster Co., the credit should actually go to Richard Nixon. Remember him? He signed the Clean Water, Clean Air and Wilderness acts. It says something about America that we had to wait for President Barack Obama to enforce a law passed by our duly elected representatives 40 years ago.

And yes, I do enjoy local oysters and will be affected by the closure.



<b>Helping hand</b>

EDITOR: Supporting food security is a community effort, and the Sonoma County Human Services Department would like to express appreciation for the Nov. 26 article "Living in poverty."

We would also like to make sure that everyone knows about CalFresh, which helps families access nutritious food in times of need. Around 60,000 Sonoma County residents not currently using CalFresh are likely eligible to receive assistance.

CalFresh (formerly food stamps) is available to citizens and permanent legal residents. You may be eligible even if you have a bank account, own a car and/or house and have a job or income. The income limit is 130 percent of the federal poverty level (around $1,640 a month for two people).

The average CalFresh benefit is around $275 per month for two people. Benefits are accessed with a plastic card that works like a debit card to buy food at most markets, grocery stores and Sonoma County farmers markets.

To apply, visit benefitscalwin.org or stop by 2550 Paulin Drive in Santa Rosa weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If these options are a hardship, call 565-2715 or (800) 331-2278. For more information, visit sonomafoodstamps.org.


Director of economic assistance, Sonoma County Human Services Department