Divisive referendum seeks to limit vineyard growth in storied Napa Valley

BY MIKE DUNNE, for the Sacramento Bee, May 23, 2018

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

"If it passes, the initiative will impose a series of environmental standards – wider buffers along streams, limits on the falling of oak trees, the replacement of removed oaks on a 3:1 ratio – aimed at safeguarding woodlands on the sloping watershed rising from the valley floor.

“The valley floor is planted out. The only place left to put in additional vineyards is the hillsides,” says Mike Hackett, a former military and commercial pilot turned environmentalist instrumental in qualifying Measure C for the ballot.

The hillsides that bracket the valley, however, are the source for two-thirds of the water that recharges reservoirs and wells that help sustain the valley’s several small towns as well as its sprawling vineyards, Hackett says. In short, the measure is needed to control development on the hills to help assure the quantity and quality of runoff, he argues.

"...in the end one has to make a choice: either you self-regulate or allow individuals to have their own way and destroy the culture you are trying to save.”"

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