SodaCanyonRoad | Kongsgaard Vineyard Conversion on Atlas Peak

Kongsgaard Vineyard Conversion on Atlas Peak

Jim Wilson | Apr 17, 2015 on: Watershed Issues

As for Kongsgaard, I've read the Initial Study on the ECP. Cahill is recommending mitigated neg dec because she finds no potentially significant impacts. I think deforestation has a significant negative impact cumulatively especially, so we avoid it locally. The project calls for clearing 23 acres to net 17 acres of vineyard in five blocks. They overlay two watersheds off Atlas Peak Rd, Capell and Milliken. Sound familiar?

Appx 8 acres of oak woodland are targeted. That's 553 oaks 6" bhd. The study meticulously counts trees for cutting down and trees to be left standing.

I decided to call John Kongsgaard and we had a lengthy positive conversation yesterday. We know each other from UCD and went to high school with his sister. It's hard to cold-call a guy you like and admire and criticize his vineyard conversion plans. But I complimented him on the favorable parts of the study and offered to help him improve on the forest aspect. There's all this science about what forests do and must do now and it's not known or it's undervalued. Yet we don't have more than voluntary oak woodland protection in Napa.

I want to make John a climate hero. He does that by avoiding deforestation. It's yesterday's science. Just like we don't smoke and eat Cheetos like we used to, now we don't burn gas and tear out trees. I want to find a way to help him to do that. Currently there is no "Forest-Friendly" certification. If I want to find a wine that's a deforestation-free wine, I can't. I want to give him the opportunity to be the leader we need to get going in the direction of a forest-safe wine. How can we encourage him? When others follow, we give them the Kongsgaard Forest Safe Champion Award. I know this is simplistic but where do we start? Find a way to get along with your forest. We're currently heading in the opposite direction in our county, with enormous pressure to expand vineyards into the forested hillsides surrounding the built-out valley floor.

I'm going to comment on the Initial Study. Deadline is 4/15. I think it's important to get something on there on biology and GHG.

The Kongsgaard project is <1/2 mile west of WALT.

The proposed Negative Declaration is here
Letter from Living Rivers Council Attorney
Letter from Defenders of the East Napa Watershed Attorney
Peer Review Hydrology Report

Initial Study Checklist
Groundwater Recharge
Woodland Avoidance
Erosion Control Plan
Erosion Control Plan fig 1-5
Erosion Control Plan fig 6-8


Dan Mufson adds:

Here are a few comments after my quick review:

In a recent study prepared by Luhdorff and Scalmanini Consulting Engineers (Napa County Groundwater Conditions and Groundwater Monitoring Recommendations, February 2011) it was determined, based on available data, that groundwater levels in the county are generally stable, with the exception of the Milliken Sarco Tulucay (MST) Subarea, which is located over 16 miles to the southeast of the subject property. [16 miles SE is American Canyon!]

RCS reviewed local geology, existing and proposed groundwater demands, and rainfall totals. Rainfall data for the Atlas Peak gage on the Napa One Rain website was available for water years 2007-2008 through 2013-2014, with average annual rainfall totals of approximately 33.1 inches; [We did not see data from the AP Guage in the Walt documents (I asked for them in my comments)--we should see the raw data especially with the current extreme drought]

To estimate groundwater recharge as a percentage of rainfall, key data is necessary, including: rates of evaporation and transpiration, the slope of the land, the soil type that exists at the property, surface water runoff volumes derived from stream gages within the watershed, and average annual rainfall. Much of the key data listed above are not available, and estimates of some of these factors can include false data. Therefore, RCS reviewed various estimates of deep percolation into the Sonoma Volcanics for other RCS projects in the area, and even by other consultant and government agencies, to assist in providing an estimate of groundwater recharge that may occur at the subject property. [Walt did not use evaporation data. Nor does it appear that this analysis did either]