Monday, September 26, 2016

The outer life of trees

                    This letter pretty much sums it up:                                                     

From the Napa Valley Register:      

  Program Is Covering Up for Deforestation

Have you ever heard of the story behind the story. The full story of the Napa Valley Vintner's programs that helps preserve fish habitat needs better context to the history, causes and environmental degradation of the Napa River. It can be mostly summarized in one word -- deforestation.
Since prime agricultural lands on the valley floor were converted to vines (large swaths of forest removed for vines) by the 1950s, the expansion of vines has been in the forested mountains surrounding the Napa Valley and through streams that flow to the Napa River that have been sadly dewatered and denuded for vines.
American Canyon, Suscol, Carneros, Milliken, Kimbal and Bell creeks are tributaries out of over 56 that still have dry season flows to the Napa River. You cannot have fish without water. Shame on us for not protecting flows to the Napa River, which now runs mostly dry throughout the fresh water portions of the river. Groundwater continues to decline and deforestation for yet more vines continues at an alarming pace, destroying what is left of Northern Spotted Owl, mountain lion, red-legged frog, Chinook and steelhead habitats, i.e. Walt Ranch soon to deforest 24,000 trees in the best creek and public reservoir watershed, Milliken Creek.
The wine industry is tapping into multi-million dollar grant opportunities (our tax dollars) to restore private rich property owners' riparian lands (Rutherford Dust) because the Napa River storm water is exceeding levees (to protect vines) carving a new channels through valley vines.
Why is this happening? It is happening largely due to deforestation on slopes. Healthy rivers flood their plains but levees disconnect the rivers from flood plains.
In the Napa Valley, levees were primarily created to protect vines from flooding. For the last 30 years, slope deforestation and vineyard erosion control plans pipe water off the mountain vineyards and discharge the storm water into the creeks causing increased rated of flows into the Napa River exceeding the levees. Hence, high velocity storm waters (jumped levees) are destroying rich valley land owner's vines.

No worries for the rich because the taxpayers are paying for their new levees while all the agencies are ignoring the cause of the levee breaches such as levees themselves, deforestation and increased rate of runoff from mountain vineyard developments. What a colossal failure of the public trust to restore the Napa River.
The PR for this “restoration” provides environmental cover for an industry that ignore the true causes of our environmental problems here in Napa County. Check out the most recent levee work at Yountville crossroads. Let's understand that the rich property owners are not donating their lands, but rather they are desperately fighting to try and regain control of floodwaters that are destroying their vines. Now, the new levees have to be set back onto their lands.
Why are taxpayers having to pay for the impacts of an industry that is silent on their deforestation practices, which is the major cause of valley floor levee breaches? Then they have the audacity to call their industry Green Certified. Our glamorous wine industry is green washing a nasty underbelly of deforestation for feel-good restoration.
Chris Malan

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