It ain't over until it's over. Drakes Bay Oyster Company announced today that it will seek a rehearing of the appeal to stay open during its suit of the federal government over the right to continue operations on Drakes Estero. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the farm to close in a 2-1 decision.
Drakes Estero is a pristine 2,500-acre inlet that the National Park Service and other environmental advocates want to turn into a protected marine wilderness -- the highest level of government protection for land -- and the company was ordered to shut down in November 2012 by then-Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar after its 40-year lease expired. Drakes Bay Oyster Company is currently the only commercial business on the estuary.
A petition for a rehearing doesn't necessarily mean that the 11 judges of the Ninth Circuit will hear the case; once the petition is filed (the oyster company has 45 days, from yesterday), the judges will then decide whether to grant the petition and rehear the case. The oyster farm is allowed to stay open during the process.
This particular decision isn't the be-all, end-all for the oyster farm, either. Lunny's suit against the government over the right to stay open has yet to make it into courts, and Drakes Bay Oyster Company could very well prevail in the end. However, if the farm is forced to close in the interim, it will have to throw away millions of fledgling oysters in the water and let go of its nearly two dozen employees, some of whom live on the property.
As The Dude says in The Big Lebowski, this is a complicated case, a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous. For background, or just so you can dazzle your friends with your knowledge at dinner parties, I humbly suggest the cover story I wrote about the situation back in May.