Defenders of East Napa Watersheds

Two watersheds at risk

Pristine oak habitat at risk

Their profit, at our risk

Property values at risk

Wildlife at risk

Our community and our properties are under serious threat. A huge development project intends to cut 14,000+ mature trees from our surrounding hillsides, greatly disrupting a pristine oak woodland habitat and changing the nature of two undisturbed watersheds.

The effects of the Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion project are likely to be devastating to the land itself, to those of us who live near it, and to the local environment as a whole. Water availability and quality. Deforestation. Dispersion of wildlife. Erosion. Air quality. Damage to the property values of our homes and an assault on our quiet and peaceful lifestyle.

We have joined forces with other concerned groups from Atlas Peak, Monticello Road, and Soda Canyon, as well as the Sierra Club and Living Rivers Council. We helped form the Napa Vision 2050 coalition to join forces across the county to bring some sense back into local development planning. Together, we have challenged the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Reports presented to Napa County by Hall Brambletree of Frisco, Texas. These reports give no consideration to the impact on Circle Oaks and beyond. It is critical that we become informed and stand together as a community under threat.

Join us. Become more informed. Protect our local resources, our rural way of life, and our property values. Show your support by attending Napa County Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings, sending your concerns by email or letter to the Napa County Board of Supervisors and the County of Napa Planning Commission, as well as letters to the Napa Register (and comment on letters and articles online). Our voices are being heard—we are making a positive impact!



For reference, a map showing the parcels and planned clearcutting sites is in the maps section. The unprecedented opposition to this project has resulted in a significant reduction in scope, but monitoring and mitigation of the still significant issues have not been adequately addressed.

Litigation Update: Nov. 2017

In January of 2017, following Napa County Board of Supervisors’ rejection of the appeals filed by Circle Oaks*, Living Rivers Council, the Sierra Club and Center for Biodiversity, all parties filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the Napa Superior Court seeking to uphold key provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which all parties contend is being violated by approval of the Walt Ranch vineyard conversion project. [See Circle Oaks County Water District and Circle Oaks Homes Association vs. County of Napa and its Board of Supervisors, as Respondents and Hall Brambletree Assoc., LP, Craig and Kathryn Hall et al, as Real Parties in Interest —Napa Superior Court Case NO. 17CV000063, filed 1-18-2017]

Opening Briefs were filed by the Living Rivers Council and the Center for Biodiversity & Sierra Club on October 10, 2017. An additional week extension was granted for filing of Circle Oaks’ Opening Brief due to the area fires which impacted both Circle Oak’s attorney Rachel Mansfield-Howlett (whose office is located in Santa Rosa and was impacted by the Tubbs Fire) and Para Legal Sue Wagner (due to the mandatory evacuation of Circle Oaks as a result of the Atlas Fire). On October 16, 2017, Circle Oaks filed its Opening Brief in the Writ of Mandamus proceedings now pending in the Napa Superior Court.

The purpose of the Opening Brief is to provide legal arguments, supported by facts derived from the 82,000 page Walt Administrative Record, which will be considered by Napa Superior Court Judge Byrne who will hear this case on February 13, 2018. The parties opposing approval of the Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion argue that violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) resulted from the County of Napa’s approval of the Erosion Control Permit Application filed by Walt Ranch. They contend that the project approval is based upon legally inadequate findings that there are no significant environmental impacts created by the project or to the extent that significant environmental impacts exist, they have been legally mitigated to less than significant. In addition to citing numerous violations of CEQA regulations, Circle Oaks also claims that the approved project provides inadequate protections (in the form of legally required project mitigations) for the water supply depended upon by the community of Circle Oaks and for the infrastructure located under the county roads which are in a state of failure and which will be used to access Walt Ranch by vehicles weighing up to 64,000 lbs.

The next step is for the County of Napa (and Walt Ranch to submit Response Briefs to the Opening Briefs filed by Circle Oaks and the other groups. Napa County must file its Response Briefs on or about November 29, 2017. Walt Ranch (and their alleged owners Craig and Kathryn Hall) are the Real parties in interest in this litigation and will be working with the County of Napa to vigorously defend the County’s ruling in favor of their project. Following the filing of Response Briefs by the County of Napa, Circle Oaks and the other groups will file their final “Reply Brief” on January 5, 2018 to address arguments raised by the County of Napa. Once the Court hears legal arguments during the hearing set before the Judge on February 13, 2018, the Court will then have several weeks (perhaps months) to consider the arguments and make a legal ruling as to the issues raised by Circle Oaks, Living Rivers Council, Center for Biodiversity and the Sierra Club.

* The community of Circle Oaks is represented by the Circle Oaks County Water District and the Circle Oaks Homes Association who have jointly filed as Petitioners for Writ of Mandamus in the Napa Superior Court.