Wine & Water Watch calls out County, BZA on Redwood Decimating Project
February 26, 2023
Sonoma County Supervisors
Sonoma County Board of Zoning Adjustments
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
RE: Permit Sonoma File No. PLP18-0012; Located at 17155 Highway 116,
Guerneville, APNs 072-130-005, -007 and -009; SCH Number 2021080556
Wine & Water Watch is a local organization of over 250 citizens concerned with the over-development of the wine/tourism industry, promotion of ethical land use, climate change action, conservation of our water resources and social justice issues. WWW has given voice to nonprofits working for common goals on our website, Facebook and Twitter. We work to create a healthy and vibrant world for future generations.
Wine & Water Watch would like to call your attention that scientific studies refute most of the proposed mitigations of the 8 significant impacts identified by Sonoma County Planning Department pertaining to this project.
Cumulative impacts of the 224 acres due to be logged this spring, directly across from the site, have not been realistically addressed. Mature redwood and Douglas fir will be logged directly across the site along the “scenic highway” as designated by the state. That planned logging was approved over overwhelming public outcry as well as other institutions. Debris from the last time Silver Estates logged into that area currently adds to the fire danger. Planting 10 saplings per mature redwood tree might be appropriate in other circumstances but not where 76, 90-to-120-foot, mature redwoods will be logged to accommodate. One acre of redwoods has the capacity to neutralize 144,680 vehicle miles traveled, sequester 23,100 tons of carbon and give off 451,734 gallons of water via evaporation. Average temperatures and length of fog free days in the summer is adding to fire season and diminishing water supplies. (See fs.usda.gov CUFR tree carbon calculator).
In the past years we have seen the Kincade fire destroy 77,758 acres, Tubbs, Nuns, Atlas, Redwood Valley, Pocket and Sulphur fires destroy 195,000 acres (CALFIRE) of habitat and yet this project has approved for use in the environmental assessment a study from 2008. That’s 195,000 acres of misplaced wildlife that have had to be relocated. Fifteen years is several generations for most species. This study must be updated, and all government agencies need to review before approval. Anything less isn’t acceptable and shouldn’t be acceptable to this county as well.
As fires on Meyers Grade several years ago reached the ocean, evacuation plans have taken on a new urgency. Plans in the past have shown massive miscalculation of traffic during evacuations by the County and need updating. Evacuees took hours to go 5 miles to safety.
California has always been a leader in sustainability and protection of resources. This project could be a model for protecting our carbon sequesters, species and water protectors, the redwoods. They are resilient and awe inspiring. No permission to cut down these trees should be made. Build around not bulldoze. There is no other possibility if we value future generations and our current population. Climate change impacts are causing massive destruction and loss of economic output. We must start somewhere, one project at a time. No one thought recycling could make a difference. In 1960 only 7% of the US recycled. Today that figure is over 35%. Protect our environment now.
Sonoma County needs to do better, there is no planet B. If the planning department doesn’t realize the critical juncture we are in, as a species right now, the department should be shut down for training or rebuilt from the top down. Sonoma County has consistently ignored current science and refuses to think in 21st century terms. What a shame.
Wine & Water Watch Board
Janus Holt Matthes, Deb Preston, Charlotte Williams, Pamela Singer