Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 27, 2019

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

In Bow to Wine Industry, Napa County Supervisors OK Weak Environmental Ordinance

NAPA, Calif.— The Napa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a flawed water-quality and tree-protection ordinance on Tuesday night after more than 10 hours of public comment and discussion. More than 60 attendees provided comment, and many urged supervisors to go further and adopt stronger protections for Napa County’s waters and wildlands amid a surge in vineyard development.

“This flawed ordinance’s failure to protect thousands of acres of Napa County’s forests and shrublands from vineyard conversion is really dangerous,” said Ross Middlemiss, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney. “These biologically rich habitats store carbon, combat climate change and provide erosion control that protects water quality. Supervisors are neglecting science and the well-being of their constituents in favor of wealthy developer interests.”

The ordinance leaves tens of thousands of acres of pristine forests, shrub and grasslands at risk of being converted to more vineyards. Despite robust community support for stronger protections, supervisors further weakened the Planning Commission’s already inadequate version before adopting the ordinance on Tuesday.

The supervisors declined to extend shrubland protections, currently applied only to land within drinking water supply watersheds, to the remainder of undisturbed habitat in the county. The ordinance also allows developers to claim mitigation credits for setting aside land that is already undevelopable.

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.

“Unfortunately the supervisors missed an important opportunity to show true environmental leadership,” said Middlemiss. “There’s strong citizen support for much stronger steps to protect Napa County’s beautiful wild places from reckless vineyard development.”

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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