by Elaine De Man

So, you’d like to comment on the Le Colline Vineyard Project but don’t know how or where to begin? Perhaps this will help.

This project proposes to take an 88.34 acre property adjacent to Linda Falls Preserve in Angwin and carve out 33.8 acres for vineyards and associated access roads and staging areas by removing 24.51 acres of forest and 9.29 acres of grassland and manzanita! (Keep in mind that the actual impacts of this project will be felt well beyond the 33.8 acres being deforested.)

Given the very sensitive nature of the area Le Colline proposes to deforest, the Draft Environmental Report (DEIR) for the Agricultural Erosion Control Plan (ECPA) provides abundant opportunities to comment! . . . the county needs to hear from you.

To make it easy, start at Table 1-1 (page 1-5) of the Table 1-1 from LeColline Draft EIR and you will see a list of potential impacts, whether the people who prepared the report think they are “significant” or not, and what mitigation measures are being proposed to eradicate their impact if they are considered significant.

Keep in mind that the people preparing the report are very interested in helping the developer get their project passed and that the people reviewing the report may not have the time or resources to consider the accuracy of the report and all the actual impacts. This is why comments from the public are so important.

For example, looking at Table 1-1, do you agree that “the Proposed Project would not substantially degrade the existing visual character of the site and its surroundings?” (Impact 4.1-3)

Do you feel confident that the applicant or anyone working on the site will actually follow the numerous mitigation measures proposed to protect air quality during construction, timber harvest, land clearing and land movement (Impact 4.3-1) or that construction would not increase traffic volumes on local roadways resulting in increased CO emmissions? (Impact 4.3-1 and 4.3-3)

Do you think that anyone from the county will be inspecting the site on a regular basis to ensure that the proposed mitigations are actually being followed and be willing to enforce the project’s parameters?

Do you think a pre-construction nesting bird “survey”conducted 14 days prior to the beginning of ground-disturbing activities is sufficient to render it harmless to any “sensitive species” in the area? (Mitigation Measure 4.4-1) Note: “special-status” animal species listed in the vicinity of the project include California Red-legged Frog, Foothill Yellow-legged Frog, Pallid Bat, Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat, American Peregrine Falcon, and Northern Spotted Owl.

Do you trust the applicant to voluntarily resurvey the area if construction activity ceases for 5 days or more during the breeding season in case any nests have been established in the interim?

Do you think protecting the roosting habitat, only, of endangered bats is sufficient to ensure their survival and well-being during and after construction? (Mitigation Measure 4.4-2)

Do you think protecting threatened or endangered species only is sufficient to protect the overall bio-diversity of the area and protect it from habitat loss?

Do you think that providing an environmental training session (Mitigation Measure4.4-6) for the applicant and his workers so they can identify the endangered plant species known to be on the property (Napa false indigo and narrow-anthered California brodea) will actually get them to stop work and take measures to protect these rare and endangered plants. . . . .even if they sign a form saying they have attended and understand the training?

Do you agree that the Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) from the operation of the Proposed Project and their potential to exacerbate global climate change is less than significant and requires no mitigation? (Impact 4.72)

These are just a few ideas to get you started. If you look at the list of impacts that have been identified, you might think of more. You might also disagree with the report’s conclusions about whether or not the potential impact is significant or not. And you might have an issue or idea about the proposed mitigation measures: whether they are sufficient or even realistic.

Also note that the only impacts listed in Table 1-1 are the ones required by CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act. You may be concerned about other impacts not listed here such as overall impact to the quality of life, potential economic impacts, climate change, bio-diversity and habitat loss. You need to let the county know all of it. If nothing else you eliminate the opportunity for anyone to shrug and say, “No one ever said anything about that to us!”

At the end of your comments you should make a declaration by choosing one of the following options:

• No Project Alternative, which would leave the property in its existing state as partially-forested with areas of shrubland and grassland. Vineyard would not be developed, timber would not be harvested, and no changes to the property would occur.

• Reduced Intensity Alternative, which would result in the planting of vineyard on approximately 6.89 acres of non-timberland on the property. No timber would be harvested as a result of this alternative.

• Increased Water Quality and Sensitive Habitat Protection Alternative, in which approximately 13.05 acres of sensitive habitat would be avoided through a reduction in vineyard acreage in order to reduce the impacts to sensitive habitat in comparison to the Proposed Project as mitigated.

And that’s it. Be respectful and identify yourself and let them know why you are concerned. And, remember, the deadline has been extended to February 25.

You can send your comments, either as an email or an attachment, to: Brian Bordona, Supervising Planner Napa County Planning, Building, and Environmental Services Department 1195 Third Street, 2nd Floor Napa, CA 94559 Email: Phone: (707) 259-5935

It must be emailed or hand-delivered by the end of business, Feb. 25. Or, it must be postmarked by Feb. 25.

And be sure to reference the Le Colline Vineyard ECPA, P14-00410.