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Dianne Feinstein's War

California's senior senator has been fighting for Drakes Bay Oyster Company at Point Reyes National Seashore — and against the creation of the first marine wilderness on the West Coast.

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And that appears to be exactly what Feinstein desired. At a May 23 Fish and Game Commission meeting, former state Assemblyman William Bagley, a Marin County resident who also supports Lunny, said that he had been in discussions with Feinstein's staff about the senator wanting Fish and Game to reassert Lunny's rights so that she could force Salazar's hand, according to a transcript of the meeting. "If she has a resolution from this good board that you intend to continue exercising your jurisdiction to issue leases," Bagley told the Fish and Game Commission, "she can hand that to the secretary [Salazar] and say, 'Look, my state wants to exercise its jurisdiction, please let them.'

"That means that the Park Service will be overridden and will receive, from the secretary, orders to issue another land-use permit" to Lunny, Bagley continued.

However, Fish and Game staff, along with the state Lands Commission and the Coastal Commission, strongly disagreed with Lunny and Feinstein's right-to-fish argument. In letters in response to Lunny and Feinstein, the agencies all said emphatically that oyster farming is not fishing; it's farming because no wild oysters are caught. Instead, the oysters are grown and harvested artificially. The commission unanimously agreed and refused to take up Lunny and Feinstein's request.

As a result, the question of whether Drakes Estero will become the first marine wilderness on the West Coast appears to be solely up to President Obama's appointee, Ken Salazar. There's no exact timetable for his decision, but he's expected to make it before Lunny's lease expires this November.

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