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The Measure C countdown continued on Tuesday, with the latest update showing the watershed and oak protection initiative falling further behind.

The initiative, which led in the early going, is 313 votes behind, compared to 133 votes behind with the Monday update. More than 7,000 ballots remain to be counted.

Measure C had 14,393 “no” votes and 14,080 “yes” votes on Tuesday. This was the third vote tally update released since the June 5 election as the Election Department works through more than 36,000 ballots. The county estimates about 80 percent of the ballots have been counted.

Registrar of Voters John Tuteur said another update should come on Wednesday. At that point, 95 percent or more of the ballots should be counted, with perhaps 1,000 more ballots to come with the final, certified election results to be released the last week of June.

Those final 1,000 or so ballots include damaged ballots that the Election Department must replicate to run through scanning machines. Tuteur said some have coffee stains on them. One had been chewed by a puppy.

Also included in that final, late-June tally will be people who registered to vote in Napa County just prior to or on Election Day. The Election Division must make certain they didn’t also vote in another county.

While all this goes on, the “Yes on Measure C” and “No on Measure C” forces can only wait. They’ve seen Measure C ahead with some counts since Election Day and behind with others.

“I never liked roller coasters,” Measure C co-author Jim Wilson said with a laugh on Tuesday morning. “But all kidding aside, it’s a nail-biter. It’s nice to be in the lead. It’s not so nice to be behind.”

He checks the county Election Division website each of these recent days at about 4 p.m. for the latest election result postings.

“We’re learning the schedule,” said Wilson, who along with Mike Hackett launched the quest to pass an oak-and-watershed protection initiative almost three years ago.

Ryan Klobas of the Napa County Farm Bureau is a spokesman for the “No on Measure C” side. The Farm Bureau, Napa Valley Vintners, Napa Valley Grapegrowers and Winegrowers of Napa County opposed the initiative.

“It’s interesting the way things have unfolded so far,” he said Tuesday morning. “We’re waiting for whatever the final number is going to be.”

Klobas is also checking the county Election Division website around 4 p.m. each day for the latest results.

“Yes indeed,” Klobas said with a laugh. “We knew because we have so many ballots left to count that things could change from day to day.”

Measure C would set a 795-acre limit for how many more oaks can be cut in Napa County’s agricultural watershed zoning district. After the limit is exceeded, property owners in many cases would have to obtain a county permit to remove oak woodlands. New vineyards are not listed among the uses eligible for a permit.

Initiative proponents say the limit should last until 2030, based on projections from the county general plan. Opponents say oaks killed in last year’s fires might count toward the limit.

Measure C would also set new stream setbacks. It would require land owners who remove oak woodlands to replace the oaks or preserve similar oaks at a 3-1 ratio.

Among the stated goals of Measure C is to protect water quality and to preserve oaks that provide recreational, ecological and economic benefits. Opponents called the initiative “anti-agriculture” and said the county already has strong conservation laws.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.