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Norma Tofanelli is quoted on behalf of the Napa County Farm Bureau in the Napa Valley Register article titled “Is the Vine Trail compatible with growing grapes?" (Dec. 11) by Barry Eberling. Specifically: “Farming is noisy and dusty and dangerous ... Recreational users don’t belong in that mix.”

I read the article and was disappointed by the negative attitude the Farm Bureau has taken. As a grower, vintner, and resident, I take issue with the negative attitude of the farm bureau, and still I fully support the “right-to-farm protections” that benefit the Napa Valley. Supporting the vine trail whilst operating vineyards adjacent is compatible. Our stance as members of the farm bureau does not support the Bureau being an anti-social fear monger. Further, shaming users of the vine trail as “recreational” as if that’s a bad thing, is an emotionally charged argument that is both judgmental and naïve.

Wisdom and experiences gained over the decades have made me a firm believer in trails for non-motorized use. From bike paths I have ridden in Los Angeles and Mill Valley to tow paths converted to bike paths in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, the utility value and enjoyment factors are high. Citizens who use these paths and trails know society has included them and planned for them, the respect is then mutual. Compare this to pedestrians and cyclists being an afterthought, forced to share dangerous roads with automobiles and heavy trucks. Even trails and paths being adjacent to roads is a compromise because of noise, particulate matter, and scenery.

I ask that all parties keep the social and utility benefits of the Vine Trail in mind while respecting the right-to-farm of vineyards. If all parties keep their cool and maintain a positive attitude, there shall be no effective trespass, encroachment, or damages, only mutual prosperity. Perhaps the farm bureau’s official stance could be: “We support the Napa Valley Vine Trail and we shall maintain full right-to-farm policies on a case-by-case basis should any specific questions about land use arise.”

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A “walk softly and carry a big stick” approach instead of an emotional attack on people.

Steven Burgess

St. Helena

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