As we, the Friends of the Napa River (“FONR”) wrote you just before the October fires, there were many positive and compelling ideas included in the late 2017 draft of the “Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative.”
We still agree that there are growing threats to our important watersheds, our waterways and water supplies, and to the wildlife corridors that support the long‐term viability of our natural world.
But, we urged, though, a different approach: “…we instead wish to extend our history of collaboration by supporting the newest proposal … for a cooperative process to seek common ground on this complex set of issues. We invite and are willing to work hard with other groups in the community to help protect our valuable watersheds, wetlands and oak woodlands.”
We are disappointed in a couple of ways.
First, although the supervisors made efforts with the APAC process, we think that more could have been done to address the important issues raised by the 2016 Initiative proponents.
Second, FONR is also disappointed with some of the unsubstantiated statements made by both sides on Measure C in their pamphlets, books, mailings, and letters to the editor. Napa County residents are better than that as we saw during the earthquake and the tragic October fires. We were “Napa Strong”. Neighbors helping neighbors. These antagonisms need not be us. We have collaborated many times (i.e. the Ag Preserve, the flood project, etc.) with very positive long‐term results.
FONR, after extensively reviewing Measure C, finds many positive elements in this initiative. The thousands of signatures gathered on petitions were strong and compelling evidence of FONR’s and the public’s clear concerns about the future of our watersheds and our woodlands.
As always, the devil is in the details, many of which could have been resolved in a more collaborative process. Further, with the October fires, our world changed in the Napa County watersheds. Right now, we don’t know how many trees were lost or how many acres of oak woodlands were temporarily damaged or may naturally recover.
The initiative process can be a positive democratic tool, but it can have unexpected consequences no matter how well intended. If any technical change is needed after Measure C is passed, however, we understand that the only way to introduce that change is through another initiative.
FONR encourages Napa County voters to review the “Napa County Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Initiative of 2018” for themselves before the June election. Whether Measure C passes or fails, FONR is committed to working collaboratively to protect our watershed and we all must insist that our county and city governments work hard with us and for us to protect the Napa County environment that is a jewel for not only us but is also a national treasure.
On behalf of the Friends of the Napa River Board of Directors
Editor’s note: The author reports Rex Stults of the Napa Valley Vintners sits on FONR’s board, but he abstained from any of actions on this issue.