Replanting alone is not enough. Support Measure C

Letter to the Editor by Patricia Damery, May 26 2018

To the Napa County Board of Supervisors: I applaud your decision supporting the planting of oaks in Napa County, as well as considering the replanting of conifers lost in the October fires ("Napa County wants to help with post-wildfire oak planting," May 24). We have been supporting RCD’s re-oaking the valley efforts for two years now, and it is great to see our board behind these programs.

However, I have been concerned about the effectiveness of these efforts. In Alston Park many of the new shoots that make it (and many do not) are taken by voles and other rodents. On our own ranch I see that oaks already grow where they grow best. Planting where oaks are not growing often results in failed attempts. We need more research on oak woodland and conifer restoration, which would be an important area for you to fund.

This is one reason that I support Measure C. To cut oak woodlands where they naturally grow, even if the replanting is only 2-1, or 3-1, is a net loss in the functions they provide (erosion control and groundwater restoration, carbon sequestration)— even when successful— for many years. Oaks grow slowly.

It does not make sense to keep cutting oaks— or conifers, for that matter, and then think replanting is going to mitigate that loss. We need you as our elected governing body to think more broadly about our hillsides, watersheds, and water supply. The most recent finding by the DWR reclassifies the Napa River basin as an area of high concern for water supply into the future and for our cities. It is critical you address this dire situation. Permitting more (irrigated) vineyards and development into our hillsides won’t do it.

Please address this serious situation. Supporting the replanting of acorns/trees is a baby beginning, but we need serious planning to protect our ecology so Napa County remains a jewel into the future.

Wine industry interests are threatening this, and increasingly these interests are corporate and outside interests. We need you to act on the behalf of the larger population of Napa County and on behalf of our environment.

Patricia Damery