May 25th is the Deadline to Comment on Scope of Preservation Ranch--the North Sonoma County project proposing Conversion of Redwood Forests to Vineyards on a Massive Scale
Sonoma County is initiating the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process for the "Preservation" Ranch proposal, the largest forest-to-vineyard conversion project acre ever proposed in California coastal forestlands.
Over 1,600 acres of forest will be converted in a project totaling 19,000 acres in size. The core components of the proposal for County action are permanent rezoning from timber production to rural residential development, granting use permits for 17 ridgetop vineyard blocks, and "consideration" of other project activities. Forest conversion to vineyards is prohibited under current zoning.The Initial Study (http://www.sonoma-county.org/PRMD/presranch/initstudy/index.htm) describes a project that includes a 3 to 5 year construction period for ridgetop vineyards, reservoirs, gravel quarries, internal road expansion and upgrades, drainage and water delivery systems, worker housing and renewed timber operations. Unlike past versions of the project, this one does not include over one hundred vineyard estate luxury homes (nor does it prohibit their subsequent proposal after permits are issued)....
NO ALTERNATIVES IDENTIFIED (Initial Study p. 1-7). The initial study is deferring all discussion of alternatives that may lessen environmental impact, and focuses exclusively on the proposed project and mitigation.
PROJECT MODIFIED AFTER SUBMITTAL (Initial Study p. 2-1). The unstable project description has been modified even after the applicant submitted the application. The Initial Study supersedes the April 2008 project description...
OVER 10 MILES OF SEASONAL CREEKS FILLED (Initial Study p. 2-24). Approximately 363 Class III stream segments (total length 10.53 miles) would be filled and graded in proposed conversion sites.
OVER 85 MILES OF 8 FOOT HIGH WILDLIFE FENCING would be installed to encircle the propsed vineyards.
40 NEW RESERVOIRS CONSTRUCTED, EACH 10 TO 40 ACRE-FEET CAPACITY (Initial Study p. 2-24). Project would build approximately 40 new 10- to 49-acre-foot reservoirs within or adjacent to the proposed vineyards. All dams will be sized to be under limit that would trigger more vigorous inspection by California Department of Water Resources, Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) requirements...
PIECEMEALING RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT: The current version of the project has dropped from the proposal (and environmental review of impacts) the construction of 116 luxury vineyard estate homes, but rezones the area to accommodate their subsequent proposal and authorization when economic conditions are favorable. How will agricultural conversion and infrastructure with rezoning of presently protected forestland influence development pressure?
Deadline for public comments on scoping:
Monday, May 25, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.
Written comments on the scope of the
Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
should be sent to:
Permit and Resource Management Department
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403-2829