The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a popular oyster farm in Northern California that is facing closure.
The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place lower court rulings against Drakes Bay Oyster Co.
The company operates in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declined to renew its lease when it expired in 2012. Salazar said the waters of Drakes Estero should be returned to wilderness status.
Lower courts have allowed the oyster farm to keep operating while the case was pending. The issue has divided the small Marin County town – with some supporting the local business owner, and others feeling it was unfair that a company could stay open at the expense of a wildlife preserve.
Monday's decision follows on the heels of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court Appeals in San Francisco decision in January, when the judges turned down a bid by the Drakes Bay Oyster Co. to have its case reconsidered.
The oyster farm had challenged a decision by former Salazar in 2012 to refuse a lease extension. The decision now paves the way for the oyster farm to close and allow the site to return to wilderness.
The private company has grown oysters on 1,000 acres of submerged land in Drakes Estero, an estuary of Drakes Bay, and packages them on 1.5 acres of land along the shoreline. It says it produces more than a third of all oysters grown in California.
Owners Kevin and Nancy Lunny bought the operation from a predecessor company in 2004 and took over a 40-year permit that expired two years ago.