House calls Seashore to Capitol Hill

10/27/2011

The United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has summoned seven officials involved in the Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) controversy to Capitol Hill for hearings set to begin November 7. National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis, Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Cicely Muldoon and scientists Dr. Ben Becker and Dr. Sarah Allen, along with former Seashore Superintendent Don Neubacher, have been called to testify. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s science advisor, Dr. Marcia McNutt, and Interior Solicitor Gavin Frost will join them.

“Allegations that NPS knowingly relied on flawed science… as part of an effort to remove DBOC have come from a wide range of stakeholders and disinterested parties. If true, the NPS… will have closed the doors of a family-owned small business without a valid scientific basis,” the committee chairman, Darrell Issa, wrote in an October 20 letter to Salazar.

Despite the finding by a March 2011 investigation by Frost that several NPS officials had “violated the NPS code of scientific conduct,” the effort to remove the oyster farm has continued, the letter states. “NPS’s failure to disclose, or even acknowledge, the existence of potentially exculpatory data captured by [hidden cameras] creates the appearance of a cover-up.”

The committee requested all correspondence to and from Frost regarding his report, all interview notes and transcripts from his investigation, all draft versions of his report, all NPS photographs and corresponding analyses of DBOC, all draft versions of the Environmental Impact Statement for DBOC, and all communications to or from Department of the Interior officials regarding DBOC.