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Feds give Point Reyes oyster company more time for wind down

The Drakes Bay Oyster Co. will have a little more time to wind down operations under an agreement reached Monday by attorneys for owner Kevin Lunny and the Department of Interior.

Under the agreement, the oyster company, which has long been a fixture in Point Reyes National Seashore, may continue activities involving planting and growing oysters in the water at Drakes Estero, avoiding layoffs of one-third of its 30 employees right before the holidays.

It will also no longer be required to immediately remove its mobile residential units, providing more time for employees to look for housing.

Drakes Bay now has until March 15 to complete the removal of all other personal property in the onshore area instead of the original Feb. 28 deadline.

Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar on Nov. 29 told the oyster farm he would allow a 40-year lease -- originally negotiated with the Johnson Oyster Co. in 1972 -- to expire. The federal government bought the land from Johnson for $79,200 and provided the long-term lease with an intent to restore the acreage to wilderness.

Lunny took over Johnson's lease in 2004.

Under the agreement, the oyster company has withdrawn its request for a temporary restraining order and instead will file a motion for a preliminary injunction challenging Salazar's decision.

A hearing is set for Jan. 25 on the injunction.


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