Letter: County should revisit tree removal rules | Letters to the Editor

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Letter: County should revisit tree removal rules | Letters to the Editor

The UN climate agency’s recent report tells anyone who is listening that we are sliding into the irreversible destruction of the only planet known to have the capacity to sustain life. It’s that dire. Please, no more research and no more wasted time. With that in mind, please help move the Climate Emergency Resolution along and make certain that it clearly states 2030 as the deadline for achieving net negative climate pollution.

As a species, we haven’t done well at real action on climate change; instead, we have shown ourselves to be exceptionally good at dithering in world capitals and municipalities over numbers and levels of commitment. By any serious standard, a 2030 deadline is not soon enough; a later deadline would be both cynical and foolish, tantamount to a self-destructive act.

While saving life as we know it is on the table, please also do everything in your power to halt the destruction of the 14,000 mature trees on Walt Ranch. The idea that leaving 248 acres intact would be an effective mitigation for stripping 316 acres is absurd, given the climate emergency. Leaving only smaller areas intact means a significant loss of biodiversity.

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It’s true in the Amazon rainforest, and it’s true here in our valley. The Walt Ranch hills as they now exist are a biodiversity hotspot (in the strictly good sense of the word). This land and its old growth trees are critical for preserving our vibrant natural world.

For future proposed mitigations, please keep in mind that the destruction of old trees is not mitigated in any meaningful way by planting seedlings. This is magical thinking at best — more likely a cynical dodge. Young trees need water if they are to survive, and the American west, including California, is in a record-breaking drought.

Are we to imagine there would be drip lines to sustain proposed new trees? Mature trees have deep root systems — they already have the water they need, and they are providing the “climate services” (sequestering carbon, cooling, providing shade) that we should prize and protect.

When these old trees are killed, their biomass releases even more carbon into the atmosphere. Why would anyone who cared about anything but financial profit wish to do something so dramatically destructive and morally wrong?

Money is only money, not a ticket to a longer life or happiness. In the current instance, quite the opposite is the case.

For all future development decisions, the Board of Supervisors would do well to act in accordance with the case of Napa’s bright and idealistic student climate group made in their compelling video.

It takes about 30 years for young trees to have the capacity to sequester the carbon that mature trees do now. What will our world look like in 30 years?

As a mature oak myself, I won’t be here to see it, but the prospects are terrifying. It is heartbreaking to picture our world with massive extinctions, famine, and vast migrations of humanity whose lands are submerged or too hot to grow food.

What will our vineyards be producing in 30 years: melon wine? Napa’s beauty and economic vitality are in the balance — they really, really are, even if some of us can’t quite imagine it.

The time is now: we need an immediate and urgent moratorium on removing trees in our county.

In the past, proposed legislation to limit the removal of trees was sidelined not only by developers, but by a few well-meaning individuals who felt the county was overreaching. But we are not talking about taking down a diseased tree or one that might fall on a house or block a creek. We are talking about intelligent choices to secure the survival of wildlife and the natural world. That includes our own, sometimes admirable, species.

Thank you for your time and for all your actions to fight climate change.