Oak grasslands akOver 14,000 trees are slated for removal in a currently intact, healthy oak forest. The potential impacts to the environment are considerable.

  • Oak trees act as mini-reservoirs. A mature tree is capable of storing up to 50,000 gallons of water which is soaked up during the rainy season and are then released back into the soil and air during the non-rainy season. This has a cooling effect on the air. In addition, the soil is stabilized by massive root structures.
  • Mature trees greatly reduce surface water run-off beyond the project site substantially reducing, if not preventing, soil instability caused by excessive surface water runoff.
  • Trees provide immeasurable services for our wildlife. For example, the Townsend Long Ear Bat (an endangered species) is found in the vicinity of the Walt Ranch and depends upon the canopy of oak trees to roost at night. For more information about the benefits of oak trees and how they are vital to sustain life, see www.eldercreek.org/restore-oak-woodlands (see also the section regarding biological impacts).
  • The trafficQuercus Group submitted written comments to the DEIR citing that the deforestation proposed by the Walt Ranch Project Proponents will result in the loss of tree removal carbon dioxide emissions totaling 105,021 metric tons. See Quercus Group comment letters, dated September 15, 2014  and March 14, 2016 (Link to come).
  • Loss of the carbon sequestration benefits from clear cutting of about 500 acres of this naturally forested watershed property will contribute to the cumulative impacts in the Napa Valley resulting from conversion of forested property to vineyards. For example, one 5” DBH (5 inches in trunk diameter at about 4-1/2 feet from the ground) Coastal Live Oak tree is responsible for removing 467 pounds of atmospheric carbon. An average passenger car, driving 12,000 miles per year creates 11,000 pounds of C02 per year.
  • The project proponents have stated that they plan to dispose of the 14,000+ trees, understory vegetation, and debris resulting from clear-cutting hundreds of acres by burning them. It appears that this will be in violation of the new Napa County Climate Action Plan.
  • What about the increased risk wildfire associated with disposal of the trees, vegetation and debris? See comments by Napa Sierra Club, page 2.
  • See expert reports submitted by Quercus Group for detailed analysis of Green House Gas Emissions and concerns related to the removal of over 24,000 trees as well as their disposal. According to reports submitted by the Quercus Group, the Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion Project absolutely fails to mitigate direct loss of carbon sequestration capacity and indirect carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and black carbon emissions due to disposal of dead vegetation. See Quercus Group comment letters, dated September 15, 2014  and March 14, 2016 (Link to come).
  • It takes between 25-35 years for most slow-growing oak species to obtain the size “5 DBH”, the size at which trees are included within “the count” of total trees to be removed from the project site. Trees that are less than 5 DBH are not even counted!
  • Mitigation measures proposed by project proponents to replace mature trees with oak seedlings by a ratio of either 2:1 (or 3:1 in the case of heritage trees) will take 25-35 years to reach pre-project carbon sequestering abilities, assuming that every seedling thrives. There are no requirements for monitoring or replacement of non-viable oak seedlings; they are only required to be planted.
  • The mitigation measures proposed by the Walt Ranch Project Proponents are wholly inadequate to counter the environmental damage which will occur when more than 14,000+ trees are destroyed to make room for planting of 200 or more acres of vineyard.

tree roots illustration