I am writing in response to Jason Abbot's Nov. 3 letter regarding the Watershed Protection Initiative ("Read the initiative before you sign").

This initiative has been proposed to help ensure the protection of Napa County’s remaining hillside woodlands. It’s supporters are currently gathering the required number of signatures allowing it to be given a thumbs up or down by the registered, countywide voting public in our next election.

Jason does not seem to be a supporter of the initiative. He was particularly incensed by the portion of the proposal that would require a permit be obtained previous to the removal of any native tree, mainly targeted at the protection of our oak woodlands. Oak trees, primarily Coast Live, Valley and Blue Oaks, are the most significant tree species making up the majority of our wooded hillsides. A permit would be needed for the removal of any tree 5 inches or more in diameter.

This specification is an attempt to discriminate between a seedling, a sapling and a tree. Jason was most critical of the needed permit for the removal of what he called “oak shrubs.”

Apparently his vision of a 5-inch tree is nothing more that a small bush. This is where his argument goes astray.

The diameter of a tree, when measured by a trained arborist, is taken at breast height (also known as dbh). A Valley Oak or Coast Live Oak with a 5-inch dbh could be between 15 and 25 feet tall. As well, it could be 10 to 15 years old or more, depending on where and what were the conditions in which it’s been growing.

The initiative is targeted to help preserve and protect that part of our county that I feel we all see as an invaluable and precious reason we have chosen to live here. I firmly believe that if we do have the opportunity to vote on this issue, it’s important that we have a firm understanding of what it does and does not restrict. It’s important that we not be misled by exaggerations as to its intended purposes and outcomes.

I also believe that, in the wake of the devastating wine country fires of last month, those woodlands left untouched can use all the help we as a community can muster. And for any folks out there who might be interested in assisting in various local, environmental efforts, the Resource Conservation District is organizing it’s annual Acorns to Oaks projects this fall and is counting on enthusiastic help in the planting of acorns in various park locations.

So don’t just hang out and moan about the loss of all those trees. Let’s get out and help plant some new ones.

Chris Sauer

Napa

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