Over-development of Napa county's Ag Watershed lands for vineyards, wineries, and large residences threatens not only biodiversity (which ensures the health of our environment) but also our water security -- especially as our planet warms.
After the economic downturn of 2008, the wine industry pressured the Board of Supervisors to include direct marketing into the General Plan policies. The Board approved this in 2010. This means that visitation, wine, and food pairings, and related events, are consistent with "accessory use of a winery." In 2017, the Board of Supervisors revised the county code definition of agriculture to conform to the General Plan. The definition of agriculture now includes, with the grant of a use permit, "marketing, sales, and other accessory use that are related, incidental, and subordinate to the main agricultural processing use." This change is highly controversial. Food pairings have morphed into full meals, threatening legitimate restaurants in the cities.
What We're Doing
We are actively tracking, questioning, and reporting on dozens of projects that are controversial in their size, their impacts on neighbors, their negative and permanent environmental and hydrological impacts. We urge our local government to consider the long-term and cumulative impacts that are not being documented.
We supported Measure C (forest and tree protection) and Measure D (preventing private heliports on agricultural land) that offer protections for our watersheds and reinforce the peace and quiet of our rural homeowners.
Given the track record of our Board and Planning Commissioners in recent years, we are likely to propose and/or support new initiatives. As land-use activists Volker Eisele and Duane Cronk stated years ago, history shows that stewardship of Napa County lands is better left to the voters than to the elected officials.
We envision a future in which our conifer forests, oak woodlands, and the living soils that support them are protected to ensure climate stability and water security. The health of our environment is the measure of its biodiversity. The more diversity in an ecosystem, the more life it can support, and the more stress it can handle. This is particularly important when our atmosphere is heated beyond any previous records. Our watersheds are important in preserving harmony between agriculture and the natural world.