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I have lived in the Circle Oaks residential community since November 1988. I originally purchased the property to fix it up and sell it so that I could afford to buy property in the city of Napa. However, it was not long after I moved into my new home to make improvements that I realized what a peaceful and special place this was to live. I found myself falling in love with the country and the healthy living style that this area provides.

Later, I became principal of Wooden Valley Elementary School, and I got to witness first-hand how healthy our kids were and how conscientious they were about the resources of our community and their drive to protect our natural resources and how important it was to keep them safe.

It was rare that any of our students were absent due to illness because this area provided clean air with plenty of oxygen from all of our trees, healthy water from the rains captured in underground springs and plenty of land to explore and exercise. Our students did well in school and were ready to compete when they promoted to Silverado for middle school, and later to Vintage or Napa High Schools.

It is rare that a principal gets an opportunity to have a school filled with wonderful students who are ready to learn every day and make a difference in the world. I realize that this was just a one-room schoolhouse but we had 28 students who were ready to conquer the world and I believe a lot of this had to do with the healthy environment they lived in.

All of the things that we value in education could be accomplished because our kids were so healthy and they did not suffer from city pollution, city problems such as gang activity, drinking, and drugs, and safe from things that are obstacles in city schools and neighborhoods.

The Walt Ranch project will take away this healthy environment from our kids and their families. The water supply will be dried up because the Halls’ vineyards will take our water supply. I cannot even believe that anyone in this county thinks it is OK to cut down 28,616 oak trees and other native trees (6 inches diameter or larger) that add oxygen to the environment, shelter for our animals and a healthy eco-system for nature’s creatures of all kinds not to mention erosion problems on our hills. More than 500 acres will be stripped bare and more than 69 million gallons of water used annually, in perpetuity, blasting and grading for two to four years and ripping the soil to a three-foot depth. Pesticides will be released into our healthy environment and the Halls are asking for additional development opportunities “to be explored” on 35 separate parcels.

Our property values will plummet without water resources and having no forest preserves to keep our environment healthy. The things we value most by living in this area will no longer be. It is not convenient to live so far from town but it is worth the commute and inconvenience to live in such a special place in Napa County. The residents of Circle Oaks are less stressed and live a healthy lifestyle because of our environment.

I am asking you to support the residents of Napa County, especially the Circle Oaks residents who have supported Napa County supervisors and planning commissioners to protect them, their property and their rights. Bill Dodd, our local county supervisor, has always been a friend to our community so I do not understand how this project has gotten so far down the road to being approved when it is not good for anyone but the Halls, who are from Texas and do not care about our community but only the mighty dollar.

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We are a little community with very little financial resources. We cannot fight big business whose pockets are lined with unlimited wealth. We have only our county supervisors and our Napa County Building Planning Department to protect us and make decisions on what is best for us.

Many of us have our life savings tied up in our homes. If our home values plummet because of a lack of water and we lose the beauty of our community because of the large number of trees that have been cut down, then our community will have nothing left. We need the residents of Napa County to stand with us, The Defenders of East Napa Watersheds, and stop this project. Please fight for us and do not support the Walt Ranch Project to move forward. Please protect our environment and water supply.

It took hundreds of years to build these precious resources: trees, land and water, and they will be lost in an instant if this project goes forward as planned. Please protect us and our 50-year-old Circle Oaks community.

de Werff lives in Napa.

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