In response to the letter from Jason Abbott regarding the watershed initiative (“Read the initiative before you sign,” Nov. 3).

Like you, I’m a fisherman, hiker, gardener, and concerned citizen. I have a different take on the effort to place this initiative on the ballot.

I read through the text of this well-crafted initiative, which allayed my concerns for the best interests of businesses, rural homeowners, vineyards, and the citizens of Napa County.

The focus of the measure is watershed protection. The areas that capture and clean rainwater, keep the water tables supplied, and keep the hillsides intact are quickly vanishing in Napa County. Scientists point to the remaining stands of native oak and the river and creekside vegetation as being key to protecting local water supplies, and the initiative is clear and specific about protecting these areas, based on research.

There is no confusion about what the initiative really says about fire risk. The initiative specifically allows clearing of oaks around homes, removal of deadwood, and otherwise practicing good fire safety.

Voters should also not be confused about the initiative’s limits on removing oaks that have a trunk size greater than 5 inches in diameter. Oaks of this size are not “shrubs” – they are typically reaching maturity and are what any average person would call a tree. These are the very same trees that protect our water supplies, filter the air, check erosion and keep soils moist to reduce the overall risk of wildfire when allowed to mature further.

I think when people read this initiative, fears will be allayed. It protects our watershed and does not pose undue burdens on any group of people or businesses. We all need to protect our watersheds for the benefit of everyone.

It was stated elegantly by Yeoryios Apallas in the Nov. 6 letter, “Not always about the ‘Benjamins.’”

Mr. Abbott’s letter is titled “read before you sign.” I agree. You’ll see that Mr. Abbott’s objections are resolved right in the initiative itself. Read with an open mind and a view toward what is good for Napa’s sustainable future.

Roland Dumas


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