Napa Valley vineyard project court ruling appealed

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Court proceedings may not be at an end for a controversial vineyard project in Napa County.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club Friday appealed a court ruling which rejected the challenges it and other groups lodged against the 2300-acre Walt Ranch project in the hills east of the City of Napa.

Napa County supervisors approved the vineyard conversion project in December 2016. A month later, the groups sued the county, alleging the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act and destroys habitats for threatened species.

In March, a judge ruled in Napa County’s favor.

In announcing the appeal, the groups stated, “Today’s appeal is prompted by the project’s destruction of habitat for vulnerable wildlife, including California red-legged frogs, cutting down of 14,000 mature trees, impairing water quality in vital streams and drawing down of local groundwater aquifers the community relies upon.

“Thousands of oak trees, acres of wildlife habitat and precious water supplies will all be lost if this project is built,” said Aruna Prabhala, staff attorney and Urban Wildlands director at the Center. “The local community and wildlife shouldn’t have to pay the price so that another luxury vineyard can be planted in Napa County.”

Although opponents of the project have been unsuccessful in halting the project, their pressure significantly reduced its size. Original plans called for the removal of 28,000 trees, which has been reduced to half that amount. The entire project, in the works for 10 years, has been reduced from the original plans by 42 percent.

Craig and Kathryn Hall, owners of the Hall and Walt wine labels, are backers of the project between the city of Napa and Lake Berryessa.

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