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Protect our watersheds already
Daniel Mufson | Dec 5, 2016 on: Napa Vision 2050
Over 6,300 Napa County registered voters petitioned the Board of Supervisors this year to put a watershed protection initiative on Novemberís ballot. Following that, a majority of Napa County voters (24,000, or 64 percent) voted for an increase in our sales tax to provide protection for our water and hillsides through enactment of Measure Z.
While it appears that not enough voted in favor of this measure (66 percent required), the message is that citizens want our watersheds protected. Many of our government representatives including all of the county supervisors, most mayors, and city council members along with Congressman Thompson and Assemblyman Dodd publicly supported Measure Z.
Thus one would think that the supervisors would act to protect our watersheds and open space from development. The proposed Walt Ranch project would be the antithesis of these watershed protection goals as development threatens Napaís drinking water source; threatens water quality and quantity; threatens wildlife habitats and the biodiversity of the Atlas Peak area. It would force agriculture into the MST watershed and open space of Atlas Peak.
There are two major issues here: first to determine whether a given land-use project can be predicted to be compatible with the environment (does the environmental impact report demonstrate less than significant damage to the environment), and second, is it compatible with the needs of the community.
Four groups have appealed the Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion project. They are the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Living Rivers Council and the joint appeal of the Circle Oaks Home Owners Association and Circle Oaks County Water District. They oppose the current project by urging the Board of Supervisors to overturn approval of the Walt Ranch erosion control plan because of serious flaws in the environmental impact report that they believe will harm the watershed and the biota.
There are many Napa County voters who believe that the county needs to act now to protect and defend community rights to clean air and water. Letís be clear here, the Walt Ranch sits just above land that the city of Napa carefully guards to maintain the quality of the drinking water coming down the hills into Milliken Reservoir for city water users. They donít let you get anywhere close to that water supplyóitís been said that birds are not allowed to fly over it. With a city of Napa water supply at risk, we must ask why county staff would believe it to be all right to cut down over 300 acres of trees, and disturb this watershed by deep ripping, blasting, and grading the Walt property located just above the reservoir.
NVR version 12/05/16: Protect our watersheds already