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Federal appeals court rules against northwestern oyster farm

An oyster farm in the northwestern United States will not be receiving a new lease that allows it to operate in the Point Reyes National Seashore, located about 300 miles from the Oregon border. The three-judge panel of a federal appeals court sided with former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, who decided to allow the farm's lease to expire, effectively returning the surrounding waters to wilderness status.

The farm continued operating in the aftermath of Salazar's decision after the court issued an injunction, but that injunction has been lifted following the conclusion of the case. The farm's current owner criticized the court for its decision, arguing that his business practices promote sustainable agriculture and this does not endanger the surrounding ecosystem. The man has 45 days in which to request a review of the ruling or ask that the case be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The farm's prior owner leased the property from the Department of the Interior, but that lease expired in 2012. An appeals court judge noted that the lease's upcoming expiration was made clear to the farm's subsequent owner, asserting that the man "received multiple confirmations" of the government's intent to return the land to wilderness status. The region was first recognized for environmental protection by Congress in 1976. Salazar expressed a desire to abide by that decision in effectively halting farming in the area.

The owner responded by filing a lawsuit against the Interior Department, asserting that the decision constituted a violation of federal administrative law. He appealed when a district court found that it did not have the authority to overturn Salazar's decision. The owner said he is currently speaking with his attorneys about potentially continuing the case.

Oregon and the northwestern U.S. is home to a large amount of protected wilderness, which can create legal difficulties for the state's many businesses. Logging and farming businesses have encountered difficulty in recent years, resulting in complex litigation with various government bodies. Due to the complicated nature of such disputes, it is crucial that such companies consult with legal representatives who are experienced and knowledgeable about Oregon's appeals system.

Source:, "Federal court upholds Calif. oyster farm closure" No author given, Sep. 03, 2013

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