In May 2012, the National Park Service (NPS) asked the National Research Council to conduct a scientific review of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to evaluate the effects of issuing a Special Use Permit for the commercial shellfish operation in Drakes Estero for a ten year time span. Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) currently operates the shellfish farm in Drakes Estero, part of Point Reyes National Seashore, under a reservation of use and occupancy that will expire on November 30, 2012 if a new Special Use Permit is not issued. Congress granted the Secretary of the Interior the discretionary authority to issue a new ten year Special Use Permit in 2009; hence, the Secretary now has the option to proceed with or delay the conversion of Drakes Estero to wilderness. To inform this decision, the NPS drafted an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the DBOC Special Use Permit. Under the National Environmental policy Act (NEPA), as EIS is prepared to inform the public and agency decision-makers regarding the potential environmental impacts of a proposed federal action and reasonable alternatives. The Department of the Interior commissioned a peer review of the DEIS that was released in March 2012.
Scientific Review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit reviews the scientific information presented in the DEIS that is used to determine the potential environmental impacts of a ten year extension of DBOC operations. In particular, this report responds to the following tasks given to the committee: assess the scientific information, analysis, and conclusions presented in the DEIS for Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit, and evaluate whether the peer review of the DEIS is fundamentally sound and materially sufficient. Scientific Review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Drakes Bay Oyster Company Special Use Permit focuses on eight of twelve resource categories considered in the DEIS: wetlands, eelgrass, wildlife and wildlife habitat, special-status species, coastal flood zones, soundscapes, water quality, and socioeconomic resources.