Walt Ranch vineyard project in Napa County faces more review

Napa County will take more time to review a crucial element needed for the controversial Walt Ranch vineyards project in mountains east of the city of Napa to move ahead.

The county Board of Supervisors is looking at a plan to mitigate for the loss of 14,000 carbon-sequestering trees. Walt Ranch applicants proposed to preserve 248 acres of woodland that otherwise could be developed.

Supervisors sent the proposal to Planning, Building and Environmental Services Director David Morrison to flesh out some aspects. Among them was keeping the preserved woodlands as contiguous as possible.

Only the greenhouse gas issue was before the Board of Supervisors. The county approved the vineyards project in 2016 and the courts said greenhouse gas mitigations needed more work.

It was unclear on what date the hearing will continue.

The Board of Supervisors tackled a math assignment of a sort. The target set in the project's environmental impact report is to mitigate 27,496 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Walt Ranch applicants previously proposed a mixture of preserving woodlands and planting new oaks to meet the target. But some supervisors said thousands of newly-planted oaks would take years to sequester substantial amounts of carbon dioxide.

That led to the latest Walt Ranch proposal to jettison the oak planting component and preserve more acres of woodlands. County officials said that, besides the 248 acres of woodlands preserved specifically for greenhouse gas emission mitigations, another 528 acres will be preserved for other mitigations.

The Center for Biological Diversity still had concerns. Among them, it wanted the preserved 248 acres of woodlands to be contiguous as much as possible, saying that intact forests areas sequester more carbon than fragmented patches.

Attorney Whitman Manley spoke on behalf of Walt Ranch applicant Hall Brambletree Associate said the vast majority of Walt Ranch will be protected by either conservation easements or county policies, he said.

Show Comment