A 'consummate community collaborator'

 

As a career National Park Service employee and former superintendent myself, I know Jon Jarvis to be a dedicated public servant who cares about the future of the national park system and strives to make good decisions on behalf of it (HCN, 8/3/09). A recent opinion piece in High Country News suggested that a conflict at Point Reyes National Seashore was an indictment of Jarvis' management. However, the writer was misinformed as to the legal and policy situation facing the agency — one which did not at all call for collaboration to extend operating rights of the oyster company, whose permit is set to expire and whose operation is in an area that Congress had already determined is to become statutory wilderness when that permit expires. 

There was no doubt that the issue of commercial oyster farming in a national park system unit that is slated for wilderness protection would stir controversy, and it has. In 1976, Congress passed a law to designate Drakes Bay as wilderness. The oyster company that was operating in the estuary was allowed to continue until its permit expires in 2012. The company was sold in 2005 and the new owners launched a campaign to extend its permit. The company and its lobbyists are making headway in Congress through a rider on the Senate Interior Appropriations bill. This situation is not Jarvis' decision; rather, it is a matter of law and policy. Continuing a commercial oyster operation in this area is at odds with a law to protect Drakes Bay as wilderness — for all Americans.

The national park system epitomizes the democratic values upon which this country was founded, and the public plays a key role in supporting and maintaining the original vision for our parks: a system of lands and cultural sites that preserve our shared history and protect our future. Knowing Jon Jarvis, he shares these beliefs and vigorously defended them three years ago when they were challenged by political appointees who were hell-bent on radically changing the guidebook to managing this great agency.

Jarvis cares about visitor experience, scientific integrity and encouraging the next generation of Americans to visit and support the national park system. Over his three decades in the National Park Service, Jarvis has proven time and again that he is the consummate community collaborator as a manager of the nation's premier examples of our natural and cultural heritage. To give just one example, as superintendent of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, Jarvis worked actively with the community's businesses to promote visitation to their lesser-known park as an alternative to visiting the better-known Denali National Park. Further, he developed a park brochure specifically focused on the local residents' uses of the park, complete with a park map showing the places where local residents could hunt, fish, gather and drive ATVs (as well as those areas closed to such activities).

Jarvis has spent 30 years building a career from coast to coast within the National Park Service. He has been an interpreter, resource management specialist, park superintendent and a regional director. He has a portfolio as well-rounded for the job of NPS director as any of his predecessors, and better than most have had.

Bill Wade, chair
Executive Council Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
Tucson, Arizona


Gary Nabhan responds:
From all I have read, the Park Service mandate regarding the lease for the oyster farm in Drakes Bay remains as squishy an oyster. I base this opinion on four pieces of evidence: (1) the enabling legislation for Point Reyes, and the recorded statements of California senators and congressmen at the time that legislation was passed, favor the continuation of farming, ranching and shellfish farming; (2) past and currently approved management plans for the park do not override the continuation of these non-complying uses, even if wilderness is adjacent to them; (3) the waters of Drakes Bay itself are not legally in the National Seashore; and (4) Sen. Feinstein's recent opinion in California press that the oyster farm must stay, which I believe is not just a political stance but an opinion that shows the oyster farm is legally permissible and consistent with the Seashore's stated objectives.

—Gary Paul Nabhan

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
    Introduction: Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with offices located in Kanab and Escalante, Utah. We are committed to the conservation...
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    For more information visit www. wyofile.com/careers/
  • THRIVING LOCAL HEALTH FOOD STORE FOR SALE
    Turn-key business opportunity. Successful well established business with room to grow. Excellent highway visibility.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    For more information, visit www.wyofile.com/careers/
  • SONORAN INSTITUTE, CEO
    Chief Executive Officer Tucson, Arizona ABOUT SONORAN INSTITUTE Since 1990, the Sonoran Institute has brought together diverse interests to successfully forge effective and enduring conservation...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a high-impact, nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 27-year legacy using...
  • PROJECT MANAGER
    Position Summary Join our Team at the New Mexico Land Conservancy! We're seeking a Project Manager who will work to protect land and water across...
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • WILDLIFE HAVEN
    Beautiful acreage with Teton Creek flowing through it. Springs and ponds, lots of trees, moose and deer. Property has barn. Easy access. approx. 33 acres.
  • ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Arizona Conservation Corps is seeking a Program Director in Flagstaff or Tucson
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...