Posted on Categories Local OrganizationsTags Leave a comment on Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District 3-Year Work Plan

Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District 3-Year Work Plan

Thursday, February 9, 2012 @ 5:00 pm
The Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa
A joint public meeting of the Open Space District Fiscal Management Commission and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee will be held at which District staff will present a draft overview of the District’s 3-year work plan. Following refinement and approval from the District’s Board of Directors, the plan will guide the District’s priorities, staffing and funding allocation for 2012 through 2015 to ensure that the diverse mission of the District is achieved during the life of Measure F.

Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , Leave a comment on CalPERS vows to push giant Preservation Ranch vineyard project

CalPERS vows to push giant Preservation Ranch vineyard project

CalPERS, the giant state workers pension fund, has ended several months of uncertainty by signaling to Sonoma County that it intends to move forward with a huge, controversial timber-to-vineyard conversion project near Annapolis.
Called Preservation Ranch, the project would clear up to 1,769 acres of forest for wine grapes on nearly 20,000 acres in northwestern Sonoma County.
via CalPERS vows to push giant Preservation Ranch vineyard project |

Posted on Categories Local OrganizationsTags , Leave a comment on 36th Annual Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner

36th Annual Sonoma County Environmental Awards Dinner

Saturday, Mar. 3, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Sebastopol Veteran’s Auditorium • 282 S. High Street, Sebastopol
Paloma Pavel, President of Earth House Center and Exec. Dir. of Breakthrough Communities, will speak on Building Healthy, Just & Sustainable Communities in the Face of Climate Change. There will be a silent auction and raffle and a gourmet dinner.
Tickets are $40, $50 after 2/20 at
Benefits the Sierra Club and Environmental Center of Sonoma County
A zero-waste and low impact event Please carpool!

Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , ,

Supervisors vote 5-0 for moratorium on ridge-top tree removal

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted 5 to 0 to put in place a moratorium on ridge-top tree removal for vineyards.  This issue will come back to the Board on April 24 with the ag commissioner’s recommendations for changes to VESCO, the Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance.

Posted on Categories Local OrganizationsTags

Nominations needed for the 2012 Sonoma County Environmental Awards

2012 Sonoma County Environmental Awards
Sponsored by the Sonoma County Conservation Council
Nomination form and list of previous awardees and nominees: or
Here is your chance to pay homage to the Sonoma County environmentalists and programs whose work you most respect – especially those that are not well known. Though the nomination form is available via email and regular mail, we request you submit nominations via the web site listed above. You will need contact information for your nominee plus a paragraph or two on why you think this person or program deserves to be honored. The nominations deadline is 2/6/2012.
Portia Sinnott, SCCC Awards Committee Chair (2002-2012)
Executive Director of LITE Initiatives,

Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , , Leave a comment on Support a County moratorium on tree removal for vineyards

Support a County moratorium on tree removal for vineyards

Hearing Tuesday, January 31

Please attend the BOS meeting this Tuesday, 9 am, to support a County “freeze” on any new vineyard and orchard development until June 1st. At that time, VESCO (Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance) will be updated to incorporate tree removal protection language.
The meeting will be held in the Supervisors’ Chambers, Room 100A,
575 Administrative Drive, Santa Rosa at 9:00 am.
Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County embraces solar power

Sonoma County embraces solar power

Robert Digitale
You might not realize it on a foggy winter morning, but Sonoma County cities are really soaking in the sun.
A new study shows the county has one of the highest concentrations of solar energy users in the state.

Posted on Categories Forests, Land Use, Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , Leave a comment on Fall of the redwood empire

Fall of the redwood empire


Clearcutting for vineyards is nothing new in wine country. Can it be stopped?

This past Oct. 11, in a rare instance of a local politician speaking out publicly against a member of the North Bay’s influential winemaking community, Sonoma County supervisor Efren Carrillo lambasted winemaker Paul Hobbs for uprooting hundreds of trees in Sebastopol and adding one more open wound to a Russian River watershed already impacted by erosion and sediment.

Carrillo called Hobbs "one bad apple," and noted that the globally renowned maker of high-end wines hadn’t bothered to acquire a permit to remove the trees, part of the old Davis Christmas Tree farm, which Hobbs is planning to buy and convert to vines. It was one of three instances this year in which Hobbs has cut down trees to the dismay of onlookers; he leveled 10 acres in Pocket Canyon just east of Guerneville, and eight acres of redwood trees along Highway 116 on land acquired in a court settlement from his neighbor John Jenkel.

"Paul Hobbs has shown a blatant disregard for Sonoma County, its resources, his fellow vintners and community sentiment," Carrillo declared in his editorial, printed in the Sonoma County Gazette.

But local environmentalists feel Carrillo’s outburst needs to be echoed a hundred times over. To Jim Doerksen, who has lived in the Mayacamas Mountains for 44 years and has watched local streams sucked dry as wineries near his property have been built, Carrillo’s words on Hobbs only amplify the silence that nearly all officials have kept toward the local wine industry through years of alleged environmental abuse.

"Efren said Hobbs is ‘one bad apple,’" Doerksen says, "but all we have are bad apples."

Doerksen points straight to his neighbors, whom he charges with illegally cutting down about 60 acres of conifers to plant vineyards. This activity, along with overuse of the area’s groundwater, has virtually destroyed Mark West Creek, a story covered in January in the Bohemian.

via Fall of the Redwood Empire | Features | North Bay Bohemian.

Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Abalone die-off plagues the coast

Abalone die-off plagues the coast


A recent explosion of plankton off the Sonoma Coast has turned lethal for abalone and other shellfish.

White meat from the prized sea snails has been washing up on area beaches for more than a week, sending wafts of rotting flesh over bluffs, and dismaying those who consider themselves stewards of the ocean.

“It’s like going up to an old growth forest and then coming back and it’s been clear cut,” said Matt Mattison, an abalone diver from Monte Rio, who was stunned by the extent of the die-off near Fort Ross on Monday. “In 28 years of diving up here, I have never seen anything like this.”

State scientists say the destruction appears to be the result of a plankton bloom that began toward the end of August and is now dissipating.

via Abalone die-off plagues the coast | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on How wine rules

How wine rules

Darwin Bond-Graham and Will Parrish, ANDERSON VALLEY ADVERTISER

If you’ve followed the Anderson Valley Advertiser for any length of time, you’re no doubt aware that the wine industry wields inordinate political power, not only here on the North Coast, but at the state-wide level also. Whether they’re fighting to prevent regulation of their enormous appetite for water, or greasing the political gears for a big forest-to-vineyard conversion, the wine industry’s major players are deeply involved in politics. As case after case has shown, the wine industry tends to get its way with respect to water, zoning, labor laws, subsidies, and more. But what is it, specifically, that makes the grape-based booze industry so powerful?

For one thing, there’s the cultural stature of the beverage itself. To appreciate fine wine is to signify membership in a learned, privileged order. No other luxury item is as capable of serving as an expression of ruling class solidarity as premium wine. And, it should be noted — if only for the purposes of this particular article – that California’s ruling class certainly includes most of its elected officials and many of its would-be regulators.

Every bit as important is the fact that the wine business has become a juggernaut of free market capitalism (although underwritten partly by taxpayers, as per the socialism-for-the-rich structure of the larger economy). The California wine industry annually reaps about $20 billion in revenue, much of it through exports to Europe, Canada, and Asia. The industry has become so profitable that most of the North Coast’s officials, from county supervisors to members of Congress have internalized the notion that, perforce, their role is to do virtually everything they can to facilitate the industry’s continued growth.

That’s especially the case owing to the wine industry’s thorough integration with Northern California’s all-important real estate sector. More than any other artifact or image, it is the vineyard and wine glass that have come to epitomize the “good life” of Northern California for a global market of real estate investors, vacation-takers, and home buyers. Crushed grapes and autumnal vineyards became a symbol, and an important economic component, of the region’s land boom in the 1990s and 2000s. The grape-alcohol plantations, fetishized as “family estates,” or “small farm vineyards” served, through a peculiar symbiosis, to both “preserve” the pastoral countryside, while simultaneously increasing land values, thereby creating a market for both McMansions and tract housing, and all the attendant gentrification and sprawl that was the basis of economic growth between San Francisco and the Oregon border until 2008.

via How Wine Rules | Anderson Valley Advertiser.