Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 19, 2018

Contact: Aruna Prabhala, (510) 844-7122,   

Lawsuit Challenges Cal Fire's OK of Destructive Vineyard Project in Napa County

Conversion Will Destroy Wildlife Habitat, Clearcut Forest

NAPA, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection today for approving a permit for a Napa County vineyard project that will clearcut dense forest land and destroy wildlife habitat. Creating the proposed Davis Estates Friesen Vineyards would involve cutting down more than 10 acres of forests in a rural and undeveloped area of the county.

“Napa’s forests and wildlife should be protected, not destroyed for yet another private vineyard,” said Aruna Prabhala, a staff attorney at the Center. “It’s shocking to see these vineyard conversions clearcutting beautiful trees and threatening county water supplies. This harmful project is another step down a very bad road.”  

The lawsuit outlines Cal Fire’s violation of the Forest Practices Act and California Environmental Quality Act, including inadequate review of the proposed project’s impact on wildlife, greenhouse pollution and nearby water sources, including the Napa River and Bell Canyon reservoir.

Adjacent to the Dunn-Wildlake Ranch Preserve, the project site is home to many vulnerable species, including western pond turtles and California red-legged frogs. Much of the project site is covered in oak woodlands, Douglas firs and chaparral, all of which will be threatened if the vineyard conversion moves forward.

In Napa County about 500 acres of land a year are being converted to vineyards, according to the county’s Planning, Building and Environmental Services Department. Scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service have warned that vineyard water use and soil erosion into creeks threaten endangered populations of steelhead trout.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in Napa County Superior Court and challenged Cal Fire’s Sept. 21 approval of Timber Harvest Plan submitted by Frostfire Vineyards II, LLC.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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