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I am writing in reference to a recent front page article in the Register, “Drones fly over Napa Vineyards” (Sept. 1). My concerns are not the standard ones of noise pollution, privacy, and safety, all of which are legitimate issues. By the time drones are airborne, we may have to contend with helicopters buzzing the Valley.

The subhead of the article says it all: “Overhead spraying works well in steep areas above valley.” Here is another assault on Napa hillsides, enabling further vineyard expansion at the behest of large corporate and ego-driven wineries. In addition to facilitating hillside vineyard expansion and the attendant deforestation, drone spraying also is likely to cause material collateral damage to waterways, plants, animals, and even humans as pesticides and fertilizers are wafted around the valley.

Can we look to our elected officials to stand tall to protect our environmental legacy from rampant wine industry expansion? Certainly not those who seemed more intent on thwarting the Water and Oak Woodland initiative through micro-legalese than enabling citizens to vote on this important issue. Certainly not the Planning Commission and Supervisors who almost never have met a wine industry project they didn’t subsequently approve.

It is interesting that the supervisors would intervene to improve the flawed initiative regarding the Napa County Animal Shelter but not raise a finger to help the much more significant Water and Oak Woodland proposal. I am tired of the Supervisors spouting the same old refrain -- “less than significant impact” -- as they approve another wine project or permit violation despite the environmental impact.

To paraphrase Sen. Everett Dirksen, a less than significant impact here, a less than significant impact there, and pretty soon you are talking about real environmental damage.

When the story of the Napa Valley is chronicled in 25 years, on which side of history will the planners and supervisors be? I am not optimistic. Just remember --influence goes where the money flows.

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Don Niemann

St. Helena

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