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The Board of Supervisors deserves recognition for leadership and responsiveness after calling for an ordinance to increase protections for Napa County’s forests and watersheds (“Napa County to start tackling post-Measure C environmental issues,” Jan. 16).

The community has voiced strong support for protecting the county’s landscape and incredible biological diversity. This ordinance is a great opportunity to answer that call, and I hope the board seizes it without hesitation.

Napa County lost almost 8,000 acres of forest between 2008 and 2017, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture. Most of this forest was likely replaced with croplands for grapes.

The oak and pine forests, grassland and riparian habitats lining streams and wetlands are invaluable components of Napa County’s landscape. Facing constant pressure from vineyard development and ever-increasing threats from climate change, these precious resources deserve far greater protection than they currently receive.

Such protections can be achieved if county supervisors draft and approve an ordinance that sets strong requirements for any conversion of natural habitat. The ordinance should include increased tree canopy, scrubland and grassland retention rates, limits on the development of steep slopes, and significant buffer zones around steams, wetlands and reservoirs.

Protecting Napa County’s wild places will benefit all residents by continuing to attract visitors that bolster the local economy, safeguarding the water resources on which both people and vineyards rely, and helping to combat rising seas and warming temperatures by sequestering climate change-inducing carbon dioxide.

This ordinance seeks to address complex and contentious challenges. The process requires collaboration, science-driven decision-making, and open and inclusive participation by the community. The Center for Biological Diversity is ready and eager to offer its scientific expertise to help the board ensure Napa County ecosystems thrive for many generations to come.

Ross Middlemiss, Attorney

Center for Biological Diversity

Oakland

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