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Nature has provided us with an amazingly glorious environment! People travel to Napa Valley from far and wide, not just for the famous wines and vines, or to shop for elegant items in the boutiques, or even the hot air balloon rides and Wine Train tours, but also to view the beautiful scenery of the tree covered hills and to bask in the soothing, healing ambiance of this beautiful place we call home. To see the magnificent oaks, the olive trees, the numerous conifer forests; to hike and bike among the oaks along with the birds and squirrels, and to refresh ourselves at the water courses; it’s a lovely pastime.

Our companions are the trees that filter our water and air, provide shade in summer, shelter in winter, and so much more. Our forests provide this and great beauty too. Amazing beings! What would we do without them? It would be heartbreaking and devastating to cut them down and denude the hillsides to make more room for grape vines. What if something attacks the grape vines or our drought continues for many more years? We can live without wine, but we cannot live without water for growing nourishment for our bodies and literally, for life itself.

There is so much beauty everywhere we look in the Napa Valley. I am so grateful to be living in this incredible place, and I believe most of us who live here feel the same.

However, I see problems that need attention and need to be corrected. If we are harming our environment with toxic chemicals known to be carcinogenic for use in vineyards -- that would be an immoral and profound disaster.

If we are not prioritizing the problem of having the highest child cancer rates in California; that too would be an immoral and profound disaster. In fact, the Cancer Registry of Greater California states, "pesticide-intense region of Napa Valley has highest rates of cancer among all 58 California counties." And finally, if we are not doing everything possible to protect the long-term, precious, and shared resource of water, that too would be an immoral and profound disaster.

Our courageous and dedicated "stewards of the land," Jim Wilson and Mike Hackett, have spent many hours and much energy preparing and promoting the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative to protect our environment against overwhelming odds. But now they are joined by grape growers, vintners, citizens from all walks of life, and thousands of supporters who are working towards this common ecological goal.

There is a choice to be made. Do we want to be known as the "stewards of the land" or the "polluters of the land?" On the June 2018 ballot please vote for Measure C, the Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative. All of our citizens will be better off for it.

Ester Akersloot

St. Helena