Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, March 21, 2019

Contact: Ross Middlemiss, (707) 599-2743,

Napa County Supervisors to Consider Watered-down Environmental Ordinance

NAPA, Calif.— The Napa County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday to consider whether to adopt a so-called Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance. Napa County residents and Center for Biological Diversity staff will attend to oppose the ordinance, which is too weak to protect water and woodlands as vineyard conversions proliferate.

More than 30,000 acres of the county’s woodlands are vulnerable to vineyard development, according to a new estimate. Since 1991 the acreage of producing vineyards in Napa County has increased by 45 percent. Continued removal of woodlands would further erode hillsides, degrade water quality, and destroy habitat for the county’s unique biodiversity.

“This is a fig leaf at a time when Napa County desperately needs strong new safeguards against reckless vineyard conversions,” said Ross Middlemiss, a Center attorney. “The ordinance fails to achieve its own stated goals of protecting forests and streams. County supervisors should reject it in favor of a measure that actually prevents water pollution and deforestation.”

Despite its name the ordinance provides few real environmental protections and mostly maintains the status quo. It would allow developers to claim credit for setting aside steeply sloped areas for preservation — but these areas are already protected under existing zoning regulations designed to prevent erosion.

Environmental advocates and concerned residents suggested numerous specific measures — such as a minimum 100-foot setback from streams and wetlands for new development — that were rejected by county staff during the planning process.

What: Board of Supervisors meeting to consider the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance

When: Tuesday, March 26, at 9 a.m.

Where: Napa County Administration Building, Suite 305, 1195 3rd Street, Napa, CA 94559

Media Availability: Center attorney Ross Middlemiss will be present at the meeting and is available for interviews.

Background: The supervisors first took up the matter of updating the Napa County Code to address watershed and woodland protection at a Jan. 29, 2019 meeting, from which an initial draft ordinance was sent to the Planning Commission for consideration. After the commission held public hearings on Feb. 20 and March 6, it drafted the language that the Board of Supervisors will consider on Tuesday.

The Center has worked for many years to protect water supplies, imperiled plants and wildlife and the overall quality of life for people in Napa County. It offered legal and scientific expertise to supervisors and county staff throughout the planning and review process.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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