Gary Nabhan's hit piece on Jon Jarvis, Obama's nominee for Director of the National Park Service, is misinformed, replete with false assertions and does a disservice to dedicated, longtime agency employees (HCN, 8/3/09). Nabhan's assertion that Jarvis and Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Don Neubacher are trying to "phase out" and "evict" oyster farming and ranching around Drakes Bay is patently false. The oyster operation in the Bay, a congressionally designated potential wilderness area that takes on full wilderness status once this non-conforming use ends, is not legally allowed beyond 2012 in the absence of congressional action — an act that would set a terrible precedent for commercial uses in designated wilderness in national parks. Nabhan fails to mention that a legal opinion from the Department of Interior reached this conclusion, which is binding on the National Park Service.
The characterization of conclusions in a National Academy of Sciences report was also wrong: The NAS confirmed mistakes were made (not new information since the Park Service itself had previously admitted this and made appropriate corrections) but did not find any intentional wrongdoing or misconduct. The article should have noted that the NAS study was a waste of public funds, and was "forced" on the Park Service at a cost of over $400,000 that came directly out of its budget — funds that should have been better spent on important park improvements and other public benefits.
Finally, all who value public lands, especially our parks, should be skeptical of euphemistic concepts that Nabhan touts like "collaborative conservation" and "working landscapes" (as if land and its natural systems are not "working" in the absence of human intervention) when they involve private profit-driven uses of public lands.
Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission
San Francisco, California