Point Reyes Seashore report released

July 22, 2008 7:18:32 PM PDT
A federal investigation into scientific misconduct at the Point Reyes National Seashore was released on Tuesday. In it, there striking allegations against the park's superintendent and a senior scientist. They are allegations that they deliberately tried to make a local oyster farm operating at Point Reyes, look bad.

"The harbor seal pupping in Drake's Estero is seriously threatened," said Don Nuebacher from Point Reyes National Seashore in May 2006.

That was Point Reyes National Seashore Superintendent Don Nuebacher at the Marin County Board of Supervisors in May of 2006.

He claimed that Kevin Lunny, the owner of Drake's Bay Oyster Company operating inside the park, was having a negative impact on the marine life.

Much of the proof he cited was from research done by scientific advisor Sara Allen, a park employee.

"Over the past few weeks we have documented operations disturbing mothers with pups," said Point Reyes Scientific Advisor Sarah Allen in May 2006.

But an investigation released on Tuesday by the Department of Interior's Inspector General's Office accused the superintendent of abusing his powers and exaggerating claims.

The report says: "Neubacher and Allen made concerted attempts to refute Kevin Lunny's disputed portrayal of oyster farming as beneficial for Drakes Estero."

Lunny had accused the park service of fabricating data and skewing research about the farm in the report. In it, Allen cites another scientist's research to make her case.

But the Inspector General's Report shows Allen misrepresented that data and knew it. The report says: "Our investigation revealed that Allen was privy to information contrary to her characterization, and she did nothing to correct the information before its release to the public."

Allen denies the allegation. But that's little comfort to lunny.

"I would like to see that there be accountability. What we've seen for the past three years is a level of arrogance that makes us believe, they truly believe that they are above the law and beyond accountablity," said Lunny.

Lunny is now trying to recover for the financial fight that has gone on since he bought the farm in 2005.

"We start with an apology from the Director of the national park service and then the secretary of the interior," said Lunny.

The park service had no comment on the report, saying it hasn't reviewed it yet.

The Inspector General's Office forwarded the report to the director of the national park service for that review.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel.


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