Letter: A Land Changed Forever | Letters to the Editor
Any resident of our Napa County who may be concerned about the current state of our county’s natural environment, wildlife, air, and/or future should do their best to educate themselves about the expansion project. proposed by Walt Ranch.
This Walt Ranch property is an incredibly beautiful and mature hillside forest comprised of various oaks, berries, maples, buckeyes, and an assortment of other native plant species, all of incomprehensible value to our native wildlife. These tree species, in particular, are superior in their ability to sequester carbon from the air. This carbon is used by the trees to grow bigger and stronger while releasing oxygen, allowing you, me and the local guy to breathe healthier!
Hall Vineyards is applying to the County Board of Supervisors for permission to remove these trees, many of which are 2-3 centuries old (or more), in order to plant vines on their hillside Walt Ranch property, located in the eastern hills of Napa, off the highway. 121.
This proposed Hall Vineyard project has multiple serious and problematic issues that would most certainly have a negative effect on Napa County’s rapidly vanishing natural environment (so much already recently lost to wildfires). 209 acres of natural hillside woodland are set to be removed and replaced with more vines. These hillside areas are quite steep and would require the property to be ripped up for initial timber removal and, I suspect, bulldozed into terraces to allow for semi-vertical farming.
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The loss of important habitat would be critical for our terrestrial biological creatures, but the possible loss of soil due to subsequent erosion on disturbed hillsides has the potential to pollute local waterways and the Napa River, devastating thus biological life based on water. .
Hall’s defense in convincing the BOS to allow this environmental affront to continue is their promise that they would oversee the planting of another 16,500 trees to replace the downed ones. Their concept is that replanting with young seedlings would, theoretically, serve as a substitute for the loss of habitat, wildlife, wildlife food source and carbon sequestration that would be lost through the destruction of a native oak forest of such incredible value.
Hall’s belief that it’s ridiculous to remove an established adult native forest and reestablish such a mature, slow-growing forest somewhere else, unless you’re willing to wait several hundred years (or longer). depending on how many years of drought they could face)!
I wonder where these 16,500 trees should be planted? Do they plan to cut down more forest to allow the new seedlings to become established? I wouldn’t think so!
My guess is that they have property that currently doesn’t have much growth and those areas are dry, hot, rocky and lack available water sources. Such sites may be inhospitable and difficult for the establishment of new trees as well!
Otherwise, there would probably be vines already planted there. It is important to keep in mind that planting a seedling is one thing and requires that the planter cannot simply put one in the ground and walk away from it. Caring for this seedling requires watering, weeding, protection from predators and erosion, all of this is a process that takes time, patience and money! Planting a small, fragile native tree or shrub without 10 years of follow-up attention is not an option!
From what I’ve been able to learn about this proposal from Hall (mostly through the Napa Register), the initial acceptance of the project is the result of policies that seem to result from the abundance of money the Halls have given to three of our county supervisors. Apparently money talks here!
I have a request that if the Hall project moves forward, newly planted seedlings will be checked annually by the county to ensure the plants are properly cared for/protected and any lost plants are replaced! This should happen for the next 10 years!
Even though grapes are the blood of Napa Valley, I wonder if the county ever sees a day when the county has satisfied its need for more vines? And if so, when would it be?