May 11, 2010
Forest conversion project threatens watershed, ecosystem
, CA – The Sonoma County Democratic Party has opposed a plan by Napa-based land development company, Premier Pacific Vineyards, LLC
(d.b.a. Preservation Ranch) to convert 1,600 acres of coastal Sonoma County redwood and douglas fir forestland to vineyards and luxury estates. CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, is a significant investor in the project.
Preservation Ranch would be located in the heart of the Gualala River watershed, which supports threatened and endangered coho salmon and steelhead and their critical habitat. The plan calls for filling and grading roughly 10 miles of Class III stream segments and building 40 reservoirs to be used for vineyard irrigation. Some 85 miles of tall fencing would be required to remove wildlife from the vineyard areas.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has stated their commitment to reining in global warming. Clear-cutting large swaths of forest would greatly diminish the County’s ability to reduce, at no expense, greenhouse gasses as represented by 1,600 acres of carbon-cleansing (sequestering) forests.
“Western Sonoma County forests and waterways have been irreversibly damaged by years of destructive logging practices, and are now increasingly threatened by development and forest conversion projects,” said Stephen Gale, Chair of the Sonoma County Democratic Party. “As the largest forest-to-vineyard conversion in Sonoma County’s history, Preservation Ranch poses a serious threat to the natural ecosystem and we strongly oppose it.”
Full text of the resolution follows:
WHEREAS, a Napa Valley-based winegrower and vineyard company (Premier Pacific Vineyards dba “Preservation Ranch”) is submitting applications to Sonoma County for: an immediate rezoning of over 1,600 acres of redwood and douglas fir forests in Annapolis to luxury estates with vineyards in addition to commercial facilities – the largest permanent conversion of forests to vineyards in the history of Sonoma County, for construction of approximately 40 lined reservoirs to intercept water that would otherwise feed the underground water sources that are essential to feeding the creeks and fisheries in the summer months, for filling in many miles of seasonal creeks and biologically important drainages, for erecting over 85 miles of deer fencing (6-feet or higher), for the application of chemicals to kill unwanted vegetation, and for clear-cutting forests and ripping of soil to depths of up to 8 feet, and subsequent vineyards installed on the steep slopes and ridge tops;
WHEREAS, the removal of active carbon-absorbing forests worldwide is one of the principal causes of global warming, global warming is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity, and forests are an essential component of the hydrologic cycle critical to collecting, filtering, and storing water for both humans and wildlife;
WHEREAS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is unwisely invested in Premier Pacific Vineyards, ignoring that water availability and water quality have declined dramatically in the County in the last 10-years as a result of excessive use and inadequate planning that did not give due regard to all beneficial uses of water including downstream users, long-time residents, and wildlife;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Sonoma County Democratic Party opposes the proposed conversion of forest to vineyards, reservoirs and mansions by Premier Pacific Vineyards d.b.a. Preservation Ranch, insofar as the permanent removal of hundreds of acres of redwood and douglas fir forests in biologically important and sensitive coastal watersheds will fundamentally alter the area watersheds by removing significant forest from steep slopes and ridge tops to make way for intensive cultivation of wine grapes, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Sonoma County Democratic Party will send letters and urges local party leaders and the State Party to direct letters to CalPERS and relevant State and local officials explaining their opposition to Premier Pacific Vineyards proposed conversion.
The Sonoma County Democratic Party is an independent local party organized under the bylaws of the California Democratic Party. For more information on the Sonoma County Democratic Party visit www.sonomademocrats.org.