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





Mother Nature has the last word

Letter to the Editor by Jaqueline Skoda, May 25, 2018



Ever since I first started reading about Measure C, I have seen this "795 acres" number, and have wondered where it came from. It seems like an oddly specific number.

Now that I am seeing the opposition to Measure C cite this "795 acres" number in their ongoing campaign of deception, fear, uncertainty, and doubt in an attempt to further confuse and bamboozle the voters, I decided to better understand where this "795 acres" number comes from.

I know that those wishing to protect our woodlands would prefer that no more acres of oak woodlands be removed. An argument can be made that 795 acres is too much. The natural water supply is now in balance; groundwater is being recharged at the same rate that it is being mined by vineyards. Weather projections are for drier climate and more wildly varied temperatures and rainfall. This means we face the prospect of less recharging of the aquifer.

At the same time, more vineyards are being planted, whether in the oak woodlands or not. Vineyards consume water; they deplete the aquifer. Less water being stored and more consumed. The balance is already at risk.

So how much watershed woodlands should be allowed to be cut? None. The data shows we are at the crossroads. Decreasing the supply by any additional deforestation pushes us to the tipping point where we take more and more of less and less supply.

So, why did the authors of the initiative limit future deforestation to 795 acres instead of 0? After looking further into the history of the drafting of Measure C, and the genesis of this "795 acres" number, I now understand where that number comes from. It was a compromise with the Napa Valley Vintners.

They, together with the initiative's drafters, jointly looked at the rate of deforestation, and, in accordance with the General Plan, agreed that the same rate of deforestation could continue to 2030 before we need to stop.

The number was arrived at arithmetically and established that vineyard developers would not accelerate deforestation. It established agreement that there is a limit to the damage that can be done to the environment before we have caused irreparable damage to our natural water supply.

The "795 acres" of additional deforestation was the price paid to get the Vintners to join in sponsorship of this initiative. By the way, there are thousands of plantable acres that are not covered by the initiative; it is not an absolute limit on vineyard expansion, just in the watershed woodlands.

So, those people opposing Measure C, who desperately want there to be absolutely no limits on the number of acres they can clear cut for future vineyards, cynically claim that the "795 acres" allowed under Measure C is way too much. They are using the compromise agreed to by them as a weapon against the measure they initially helped to draft.

They want no limits on deforestation, and yet they continue to claim that they are the true environmentalists. The hypocrisy is now public.

Who was not in the negotiations? Mother Nature. Mother nature didn't agree to keep supplying the same quality and quantity of water even while forests are being scraped off the surface of the earth. No, Mother Nature didn't agree to anything. She is responding to climate change and will respond to deforestation. She will respond to your children and to your children's children.

Vote Yes on Measure C, because you don't negotiate with Mother Nature. She has the last word.

Jacqueline Skoda