United States Department of the Interior

OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR

San Francisco Field Office 1111 Jackson Street, Suite 735 Oakland, California 94607

February 26, 2004

To: Superintendent

Point Reyes National Seashore

From: Field Solicitor

San Francisco Field Office

Re: Point Reyes Wilderness Act

As requested, this memorandum opinion reviews the Point Reyes wilderness situation as it related to the Johnson Oyster Company 40-year Reservation of Use and Occupancy which expires in 2011, or might be terminated sooner for cause or other processes. The Wilderness Act of 1964, and the Point Reyes Wilderness Act of 1976, provide the guidance for implementation of wilderness within the Seashore and are the basis for NPS’s obligations to manage the subject land and waters toward conversion of the potential wilderness areas to wilderness status.


In conjunction with the Seashore authorization Act of 1962, the State of California, by 1965 legislation (copy attached), conveyed to the United States all of the right, title and interest of the State in lands one-quarter mile seaward of the mean high tide. More precisely the State granted “all the tide and submerged lands or other lands beneath navigable waters situated within the boundaries of the Point Reyes National Seashore …” to the United States. Excepted from this grant and reserved to the State were the “right to fish upon, and all oil, gas and other hydrocarbons in the lands … together with the right to explore or prospect …” within the tidal and submerged lands. However, these reserved rights were not to be “exercised in such manner as to cause … unnecessary pollution of the coastal waters”, and no “well or drilling operations of any kind shall be conducted upon the surface of such lands.”


On October 18, 1976, the Point Reyes Wilderness Act designated 25,370 acres as wilderness, and 8003 acres as potential wilderness. Public Law 94-544, Oct. 18, 1976. The area designated as potential wildness (2811 acres) for area 2 of three areas



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