Thursday, May 3, 2018

The truth about oak woodlands in a time of deception

Clarity bought to the watershed debate by a veteran vintner and grower
Title: Here’s the Science – Yes on C
On April 13, Stu Smith published a letter in the St. Helena Star opposing Measure C, which is designed to protect the Napa Valley watershed.  Before I address his letter, I would like to clarify some misinformation re my vineyards.  I have been fortunate enough to have only removed ONE tree, a sick one, to plant our vines.  Even if I had done extensive logging in the ‘80’s, as many did back then, and continuing into 2016, I would have realized that things must change.  We must start to aggressively take care of our environment. So, all you ex-loggers are welcome to join our cause.
The team behind Measure C have a very simple proposition, which is supported by much of the citizenry and by science: Stop deforestation of oak woodlands and destruction of critical riparian areas so that the water services of the watershed will be protected. Save the environment so that the population, including winegrowers, will not experience the predictable harms that follow deforestation.
Mr. Smith sounds the drumbeat of “where’s the science?”, knowing full well that there is ample science. The Watershed Task Force compiled and summarized the science associated with protecting vs. deforesting watersheds. The Dunne report (2001) systematically detailed the cumulative and permanent impact of deforestation. Mr. Smith has been an active participant in consideration of the science involved, and his claim that none exists is disingenuous. What science would he like to argue with?
The beneficial services of oak forests? The negative impact of deforestation? The benefits of setbacks from tertiary and secondary streams?  The detriment of Roundup to our waterways? Higgins(2018)? Would he like to argue that vineyards don’t use water drawn from the water table? He begins to sound like the climate change deniers who look straight at the science and declare it to be opinion. Can he show any science that shows that deforestation is good? A single case? No, I didn’t think so.
Mr. Smith also contrives an argument to make the landowners of Napa Valley an oppressed minority that is being done wrong by the “tyranny of the majority”. He argues that the initiative process by which citizens create laws directly when their representatives are unresponsive is somehow an injustice. He calls Measure C an oppression of a minority group. I confess I laughed hysterically when I got to that line. Napa wine growers as small family farmers is mostly a myth now. They do exist, but the lion-share of land holdings are owned by one per-centers and mega corporations. The idea of the super-rich being an oppressed minority is laughable.
Mr. Smith is from a previous era, when responsible vineyard developers could figure out how best to create a winegrowing business. Because the Napa brand has attracted people with less knowledge and commitment to sustainability, we need to create rules. Because we are so densely developed, we have to create rules and guidelines that consider cumulative and aggregate impact.
This one very simple measure has a very clear objective, to protect the watershed forests that assure our water supply. You can complicate it and make up ideological arguments to distract people from the simple necessity to protect the watershed, but it remains that deforestation will lead to bad effects for us all, protecting the watershed is one thing we can do right now to protect our future.

Please vote YES on C.  Randy Dunn

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