Hall Coalition in the News
reality anti-grape rhetoric doesn't reflect current farming practices
trivia fans, here's the question of the day: What percentage
of Sonoma County's 1 million acres is planted in grapes? Ten
percent, 20 percent, 2 percent or less than 1 percent?
54,000 Sonoma County acres are planted in wine grapes -- a little
over one-half of 1 percent of total acreage and only 1 percent
of the county's 550,000 total agricultural acreage.
Surprised? While the Town Hall Coalition has done a masterful
job over the past 18 months of painting a picture of an industry
intent on taking over the county, the facts presented in an
article by Staff Writer Tim Tesconi show a different reality.
only are grapes a minuscule percent of the county's agricultural
acreage, new planting has remained relatively steady over the
past five years.
while Town Hall Coalition leader Lynn Hamilton argues that the
conversion of forest to grapes is ``a serious threat to public
health as well as the environment,'' in 2000 the California
Department of Forestry received applications to convert only
173 acres of forest- land to vineyards.
Town Hall Coalition has articulated important policy goals including
eliminating watershed erosion, preserving more oak lands and
forests, reducing the use of pesticides and protecting ground-water
supplies, but it's unlikely that these goals will be furthered
by inflammatory statements.
changes come about through hard work -- like that of negotiators
who spent two years hammering out the Sonoma County Vineyard
Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance. This month marks the
ordinance's first birthday, and county planner Gail Davis claims
``the ordinance has increased awareness of environmental issues.''
She points to a half-dozen vineyard projects that were stopped
when owners realized that they were unlikely to meet regulatory
are also made when industry leaders set an example -- such as
the 80 growers who have signed a value statement for environmental
and community stewardship and Kendall-Jackson's pledge not to
replace oaks with vineyards.
Town Hall Coalition has spent 18 months decrying the wine industry
even as growers have committed to better practices. Now it is
time for the coalition to soften the rhetoric, articulate specific
plans and work with farmers toward continued improvements.
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