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Walt Ranch

A Napa County Superior Court judge has rejected legal challenges to vineyard development at Walt Ranch, but opponents may appeal.

The Walt Ranch vineyard project in the hills between Napa and Lake Berryessa won a victory in Napa County Superior Court, but that apparently won’t be the last legal word.

Walt Ranch involves creating 209 acres of vineyard blocks and a total 316-acre disturbed area on a 2,300-acre property. It has become a flashpoint in battles over vineyard development in the agricultural watershed, with opponents saying it will hurt wildlife, cut down trees and sap groundwater supplies.

Judge Thomas Warriner on March 8 ruled in favor of Napa County, which approved the Walt Ranch erosion control plan in 2016. His ruling addressed three separate lawsuits, one by Living Rivers Council, one by Circle Oaks Homes Association and Circle Oaks County Water District and one by the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club.

“We’re grateful to the court for its decision,” said Mike Reynolds of Walt Ranch. “Generally, I think it’s a reflection of the extensive work Napa County put in over a decade that analyzed all of the potential impacts and made sure that the project was as sensitive to the environment as possible.”

Local environmentalist Chris Malan on Tuesday said Living Rivers Council will appeal the court’s decision.

The Center for Biological Diversity had yet to decide as of early this week if it will appeal. Aruna Prabhala of the group said it is considering all options along with its lawsuit partner, the Sierra Club.

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