Location and description
Situated at  the estuary provides the main drainage for the Point Reyes peninsula. Seen from the air, Drakes Estero resembles a human hand, with Barries Bay, Creamery Bay, Schooner Bay, and Home Bay as the "fingers" and Limantour Bay as the thumb. The waters of the Estero flow into Drakes Bay between Drakes Beach and a narrow strip of land called Limantour Spit.,
Drakes Estero is protected as part of the Point Reyes National Seashore and recognized for protection by the California Bays and Estuaries Policy. Although Drakes Estero is protected as part of the National Seashore, legacy agricultural uses such as dairy farms and oyster aquaculture have led to controversy over the water quality, conservation status, and proper uses of this body of water. Conservationists, including L. Martin Griffin, Jr. have called for an end to the ongoing oyster farming in the estero. Senator Dianne Feinstein criticizes the National Park Service report used to build a case against the oyster farming, as it failed to properly attribute data and mislead readers of the oyster farms impact. On November 29, 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that he has directed the National Park Service to allow the permit for oyster farming to expire, signalling an imminent ending to the nearly 80-year old industry. A lawsuit was filed on December 4, 2012 by Kevin Lunny, the owner of Drake's Bay Oyster Company, to declare the decision by Salazar null and void. Salazar also directed NPS to grant 10 to 20 year extensions to the legacy agricultural farms in the area. David Spady with Americans for Prosperity, called the National Park Service's eviction as a "land grab" that will have an economic impact on thousands of retailers and consumers. In February 2013, the 9th Cir. issued an injunction on the order to close Drake's Bay Oyster Company until it hears the company's appeal.
Drakes Estero has been designated as the most probable landing spot of Francis Drake on the coast of North America in 1579 during his circumnavigation of the world and has been established as a National Historic Landmark. A historical marker has been placed on Drakes Beach near the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center and monuments to Drake have been erected at the Drake's Cove landing site. The Drake landing is interpreted at the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center and the Point Reyes National Seashore's Bear Valley Visitor Center.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Drakes Estero
- State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Control Policy for the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (1974) State of California
- "Marin Voice - Oyster bill: What's at stake?". Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- "GUEST OPINION: Feinstein is risking our Point Reyes heritage". Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- "Feinstein 'stunned' by data manipulation allegations". KGO-TV. March 29, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- "U.S. evicting Point Reyes oyster farmer". Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- David Spady (2013). Drake's Bay Oyster Co. Falls Victim to Federal Land Grab. AFPCalifornia. Retrieved February 24, 2013.
- Bob Egelko (February 25, 2013). "Drakes Bay Oyster Co. gets reprieve". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
- The Drake’s Cove site began its review by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1994 , thus starting an 18-year study of the suggested Drake sites. The first formal Nomination to mark the Nova Albion site at Drake’s Cove as a National Historic Landmark was provided to NPS on January 1, 1996. As part of its review, NPS obtained independent, confidential comments from professional historians. The NPS staff concluded that the Drake’s Cove site is the “most probable”  and “most likely”  Drake landing site. The National Park System Advisory Board Landmarks Committee sought public comments on the Port of Nova Albion Historic and Archaeological District Nomination  and received more than two dozen letters of support and none in opposition. At the Committee’s meeting of November 9, 2011 in Washington, DC, representatives of the government of Spain, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Congresswoman Lynn Wolsey all spoke in favor of the nomination: there was no opposition. Staff and the Drake Navigators Guild’s president, Edward Von der Porten, gave the presentation. The Nomination was strongly endorsed by Committee Member Dr. James M. Allan, Archeologist, and the Committee as a whole which approved the nomination unanimously. The National Park System Advisory Board sought further public comments on the Nomination : no additional comments were received. At the Board’s meeting on December 1, 2011 in Florida, the Nomination was further reviewed: the Board approved the nomination unanimously. On October 17, 2012 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar formally established the Drakes Bay Historic and Archaeological District as a National Historic Landmark.
- "The Drake Navigators Guild Press Release". Retrieved October 18, 2012.