SAN FRANCISCO — The 1st District Court of Appeal in
California has sent a local environmentalist group back to the
On Feb. 28, according to a report
by the Napa Valley Register, the appellate court ruled that the
California Native Plant Society's proposed Water, Forest and Oak
Woodland Protection Measure does not comply with California's
full-text requirement for any new bills or legislation to be added to
the county ballot.
If approved, according to court documents,
the initiative would have amended the county's general plan and code
to create water-quality buffer zones within the agricultural
watershed zoning district and prohibit timber removal from within
those zones. In addition, the initiative would establish a permit
program for oak-tree removal on a parcel 5 acres or more in the
agricultural watershed zones and impose penalties to violations of
“The goal is to limit the amount of hillside grading in the
area,” Dan Glusemcamp, executive director of the CNSP, told the
Northern California Record. “When you start doing hillside
grading, that effect starts to create erosion and that erosion has an
impact on the overall water quality of the area. And those effects
can reduce the water availability, and that is so important to Napa
The initiative has been opposed by several area organizations
including the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa County Farm Bureau,
Winegrowers of Napa County and Napa Valley Grapegrowers who,
according to a Napa Valley Register article,
have said that they feel the county already has stringent
requirements for preserving the local watershed.
Although the petition to get the initiative on the ballot had
twice the necessary number of signatures, the appeals court ruled
that despite including 18 pages of the initiative, the petition
failed to include an appendix detailing certain aspects of the
voluntary oak-management plan.
“Registered voters accepted the initiatives, and it was rejected
over some quibbles and sent back to us back by the courts,”
As for what this ruling means for the future of the initiative,
Glusemcamp said the organization still has core goals for moving
forward with the project.
“At this point in time we have staggered our goals; the simplest
goal is that we want the democratic process returned to the people of
Napa County,” he said. “The next step up from that is that we
want the voters in Napa County to vote as they have before to protect
the watershed and make Napa a better place. We think continued
infrastructure development threatens the quality of life in
California, so we are working statewide to maintain the watershed.”
Glusemcamp said the CNSP is debating whether to escalate the issue
to a higher court.
"In the past, we have had many surceases with these kinds of
escalations," he said. "We might have to start with an
awareness campaign before we return to the courts, though."