Earth Defense for the Environment Now
1325 Imola Ave. West PMB 614
Napa, Ca. 94559
Mission Statement: To conserve, protect and defend earth’s deep
ecology and biodiversity for a sustainable future and a
high quality of life for all. We will accomplish this
through education, advocacy, and legal defense when
AWNI Erosion Control Plan
August 18, 2003
Project: Awni, Zaid
Address: 19748 Crystal Ridge Ln. Northridge, Ca. 91326
Parcel size: 24 acres
Location: North East Calistoga 128 and Tubbs Ln.
Habitat type: Mixed Oak Woodland and Blue Oak 75-80% canopy cover
Tree Removal: Live oak-22
Black Oak- 32
Total Tree Removal: 435
Watershed: Cyrus 1,864 acres
Blossom 2,464 acres
Timberlands on site: 3 acre CDF TCP exemption
EROSION HAZARD RUNOFF HAZARD POTENTIAL USE
SOILS: 85% of site is Forward Rapid Timber, recreation, wildlife
10% Forward Kidd Complex Rapid Same
5% Forward Gravelly Loam Medium Timber, watershed, wildlife
Resources identified: oak woodland, wetland hydrologically connected off site,
Steelhead, Northern Spotted Owl, bats
1. This submitted vineyard project conversion is internally inconsistent with the
Negative Declaration. The Notice of Intent to Adopt a Negative Declaration
states that the project will convert of up to 5 acres. The Application for Erosion
Control Plan Review says installation of vineyard conversion up to 11.8 acres.
The Timberland Exemption says a vineyard conversion of up to 7.24 acres.
Which is it?
2. Hydrology and Geology: The Watershed Task Force of citizens appointed by the
Board of Supervisors, identified hydrologically sensitive watersheds and
produced a map entitled (MIG) Sub watershed Vulnerability to Hydrologic
Change, Napa River Watershed Task Force January 2000. This map shows that
the Awni project is in a moderate to highly erosive region of the Napa River
Watershed. Forest conversion to vineyard will deliver sediment to the Napa River,
an impaired River listed for sediment according to 303 (d) of the Federal Clean
Water Act. Stripping the land of tree canopy and reconouring the landscape will
cause significant environmental problems:
Fine sediment will be mobilized and erode into Cyrus and Blossom class one
streams affecting Steelhead spawning and rearing habitats down-stream
Increased peak flows will cause bank failures in Cyrus and Blossom class one
Erosion Control Plan 00262 does not address or mitigate impacts caused by
fine sediment runoff
Increased flooding down stream
3. The TMDL executive Summary produced by the State Regional Water Quality
Control Board and the Environmental Protection Agency states that no new
sediment sources should be allowed. This vineyard conversion will cause a long
acting new sediment source.
4. Air Quality: Napa County’s primary land use is agriculture. There are currently
approximately 55, 000 acres of vineyards in Napa County. While EDEN
appreciates this land use on prime agricultural lands we do have concerns about
air quality due impacts to unsustainable vineyard expansion into wildlands.
Vineyard development leads to the increased uses of pesticides and herbicides.
Increasing numbers of children in Napa County suffer from asthma and other
breathing disorders during the spraying season. Cumulative impacts from this
major land use are affecting the air quality and thus are effecting the population
at-large. To ignore this factor and not address the subsequent health issues is
problematic for society. Pesticides and herbicides will drift even in what is
considered ‘good conditions of less than 5 miles per hour winds’ (Environmental
Protection Agency-EPA recommends on the label of pesticides not to spray when
this condition is present) affecting the respiratory systems of children, medically
fragile individuals and others near and far. Napa County uses over 2 million
pounds of these chemicals yearly. This use is having profound effects on human
health and this amount of current and projected use is not sustainable for humans
or wildlife. When the community complains to the Agricultural Commissioner,
little is done to protect the residences near regular spraying because of the ‘right
to farm’ in our county. The Agricultural Commissioner will suggest ‘closing your
windows’. Consequently, the citizens are exposed to poor air quality seasonally in
Napa County. This problem is rarely discussed or addressed. EDEN is getting
complaints regarding complaints regarding pesticide use and human health
impacts and the County should be identifying this as an air quality problem as the
responsible lead agency. Community discussion could bring solutions and
recognition of unsustainable practices that need change.
5. Biological Resources:
Steelhead and other fish depend on clean, cold water to survive. This
project will have significant adverse effects on spawning and rearing
habitats down stream due to sediment delivery to the class one streams.
Bats reside in forest canopy. Recently another forest vineyard conversion
in Napa County caused the sudden death of hundreds of bats due to loss of
habitat. What are the impacts on bats from this project?
Timberland conversion proposed by this project will cause increased
runoff, thereby impacting Cyrus and Blossom creek. Both streams are
currently already suffering from hydrologic impacts from past vineyard
expansions. Blossom creek has extreme sediment problems, which have
all but eliminated salmon habitat. This project will add significant to the
environmental impacts, which already exists on Blossom. Cyrus creek has
suffered significant deforestation down stream from previous conversions
and clear-cutting the headwaters will create additional adverse impacts to
This project is in the headwaters of the Napa River, which means that all
the spawning and rearing habitats for anadromous fish will be affected by
mobilized fine sediment from this project.
The Northern Spotted Owl habitat is on this site. The NSO is suffering
depleting numbers in Napa County due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
This project will have significant effects on the NSO status in Napa
Oak woodlands are home to thousands of species. This important habitat
type is being severely depleted in Napa County due to vineyard expansion
into wild lands.
Removal of stands of oak trees will be necessary to install the vineyard as
proposed. Oak trees provide important forage and nesting of numerous
wildlife species. The Napa County General Plan recognizes the value of
oaks and contains a number of conservation policies to preserve and
maintain oaks and oak woodland habitat (Conservation Policy 6e). The.
loss of oak trees in the vineyard blocks would contribute to the cumulative
reduction of oak trees and associated forage and other important wildlife
habitat features in this identified important habitat area
Why is the loss of oak trees not identified as an impact and why are there not mitigation
measures? The Atwater mitigated negative declaration has several mitigation measures
for the oak woodland. Why are similar mitigation measures not required for this project?
Removal of stands of oak trees will be necessary to install the vineyard as proposed. Oak
trees provide important forage and nesting of numerous wildlife species. The Napa
County General Plan recognizes the value of oaks and contains a number of conservation
policies to preserve and maintain oaks and oak woodland habitat (Conservation Policy
6e). The loss of oak trees in the vineyard blocks would contribute to the cumulative
reduction of oak trees and associated forage and other important wildlife habitat features
in this identified important habitat area.
SOIL EROSION OR THE LOSS OF TOPSOIL; AND WATER QUALITY
Section VI Geology and Soils b) Result in substantial soil erosion or loss of topsoil?
The statement is made that implementation of the Erosion Control Plan would minimize
soil erosion and loss of topsoil on the site. It is indicated that with the proposed ECP that
soil erosion and the loss of topsoil at the project site is reduced to a level of less than
significant. The EDEN disagrees with this statement.
Section VIII Hydrology and Water Quality
f) Otherwise substantially degrade water quality
The statement is made that the project is not anticipated to have an impact on water
quality because of the 25-foot setback along the two drainages located within Block B.
The EDEN questions above findings because there are not soil loss calculations for the
pre project conditions and the post project conditions.
There is no soil loss calculation for the erosion control plan. What is the present soil loss
for the proposed vineyard site? What will the soil loss be after vineyard conversion?
There is no calculation for sediment transport or sediment yield off the site. What is the
sediment transport or sediment yield off the site under the present conditions and what
will it be after the vineyard conversion? Will the vineyard conversion increase the
sediment transport or sediment yield off the site? With out the following information
how can the statement be made that concerns regarding erosion are reduced to a level of
In the Final Mitigated Negative Declaration for Suscol Springs North Project ECP 99-492
there was calculated sediment Yield for Fine Silts and Clays of 83-tons/year increases for
the vineyard conversion, Page B-31. This is basically one half ton of fine sediment per
acre of vineyard development.
In response to Sierra Club comment S-38 which was “Why is it not possible to make the
suspended sediment drop out before it leaves the vineyard property. The basic goal of the
Napa Conservation Regulations is to keep sediment from leaving the property.” The
county’s consultant responded as follows.
“Given the topography of the site, the size of the watershed, and the fine soil particles
that would be eroded, it is not practical or economically feasible for the applicant to
design an on-site sediment detention system that would remove all suspended sediment.
A quick preliminary calculation of the size required detaining fine silt for the 10-year
storm (common design storm for residential subdivision sediment detention structures) is
on the order of 30 to 40 acre-feet. With a 3-foot storage depth and an additional 2 feet of
freeboard, and considering the slope of the ground, the lower embankment of a sediment
detention structure would need to be about 5 or 6 feet high and the footprint of the
structure would be on the order of 10 to 15 acres or more. Even then it would only be
partially effective in trapping finer silts and would not detain colloidal clay particles
suspended in the runoff water at all.”
This statement shows that a standard erosion control plan cannot retain fine sediments on
the project site. That even an advanced erosion control plan based on a mitigated negative
declaration still cannot retain fine sediments on the project site. Also that it is considered
not practical or economically feasible to have an on-site detention system that would
remove all suspended sediment from the water flowing off the site.
On April 18, 2001 the Executive Summary Draft for the Napa River Basin Limiting
Factors Analysis was released. This is Phase I of the TMDL study for the Napa River
Basin. Under Gravel Permeability it states that the sediment in the gravel is reducing the
survival of steelhead fry to 50 percent or more. Three areas of additional study are listed
for phase II studies to further understand the sediment problems. Then the following
recommendation is made.
Given current information and pending completion of Phase II studies to address the
information needs mentioned above, we believe the following actions are warranted:
“Opportunities to prevent increased delivery of sediment to channels, and preferably
reduce sediment delivery, should be pursued.”
The EDEN would like to know what additional physical mitigation measures will be
applied to this project to ensure that all sediment will remain on the site. Increased
sediment yield is unacceptable now that the Phase I TMDL results recommend that new
sediment sources not be permitted. There should be no increase in soil transport off the
project site after the vineyard is planted. There needs to be an accurate soil transport
calculation for the existing condition and a second soil transport calculation for the
vineyard conversion plus mitigation measures to trap sediment on the project site. What
are the mitigation measures that will guarantee all fine sediments will be retained within
the project boundaries?
The EDEN objects to the approval of this ECP and to the finding of no significant
impacts in the negative declaration.
1. First EDEN will reiterate our general concerns as set forth in Mr. Lippe’s letter
dated May 18, 2001 to Mr. Charles Wilson, Director.
2. As a result of the judgment in Sierra Club v. County of Napa, et. al. (Napa County
Superior Court Case No. 26-07212, the County now applies the California
Environmental Quality Act when approving Erosion Control Plans for new
vineyards on slopes over 5% pursuant to the Conservation regulations at Chapter
18.108 of the Napa County code. EDEN has requested on several occasions,
based on the evidence it has gathered, that your department certify either project
EIRs or a program EIR prior to any further ECP approvals for new vineyards on
slopes over 5%. In this regard, you stated on several occasions that your
department intends to begin the process of preparing a programmatic
Environmental Impact Report pursuant to CEQA for the ECP approval program.
EDEN believes there is not just substantial evidence, but overwhelming evidence
supporting a fair argument that new vineyards on slopes over 5% have caused, are
causing and will continue to cause significant adverse impacts on the environment
and that the Awni Vineyard Conversion will also cause or contribute to these
ongoing significant impacts. Case in point is the response to the comment S38 for
the Suscol Springs North Project ECP 99-492 discussed above, where the fine
sediment loss is calculated to be one half ton per acre after the vineyard
3. There have been literally hundreds, possibly thousands, of hillside vineyard
conversion projects in the Napa Valley drainage since the Hillside Ordinance was
adopted in 1991.
4. All of these vineyard conversions are closely related in terms of their
hydrological, geological, and biological impacts. (See CEQA Guideline 15355
defining “cumulative impacts”). As documented in the attached exhibits, there
are already significant adverse impacts on the aquatic environment, especially on
populations and habitat of steelhead. This project will contribute to those
significant impacts. Even if this contribution may be characterized as “minor,” its
cumulative impacts when considered with other past, present and probable future
projects in the County are significant. Kings County Farm Bureau v. City of
Hanford (1990) 221 Cal. App.3d 692, 719-722.
5. At a minimum the County should describe in the CEQA document for this project
the number, acreage and environmental impacts of the previous 10 years of
hillside vineyard conversions in the County and in the Napa River drainage. The
negative declaration fails to provide this information, as part of the CEQA
required description of the environmental setting of the project. As a result, the
negative declaration assesses this project’s impacts in isolation, in violation of
Land Use and Planning
The major land use in Napa County is agriculture. Nothing in this initial study
discusses the major problem of vineyard expansion into wild lands. Fragmentation of
wild lands is causing significant and irreversible damage to fragile forests and the
species, which inhabit those forests and wild lands. The forest canopy helps provide
wildlife habitat and clean water as well as unique microclimates and scenic resources
that all consider part of the and quality of life in Napa County. An intact healthy
forest means a healthy watershed, which means a healthy habitat for wildlife and
humans. Deforestation causes increased rate of flow downstream and flooding on the
valley floor and properties close to creeks. Valley floor vineyards are at risk due to
increased velocities and peak flows in the streams. The county allowing deforestation
of oak woodlands, timberland forests and other wild lands not prime agricultural
lands puts our watershed in dis-equalibrium and the public risk.
Napa County, has failed to assess significant cumulative impact of land
conversion to vineyard in Napa County and how this affects the streams
and the Napa River.
The Awni project proposes to pump water from the ground. Significant
cumulative impacts are occurring from over pumping in the Milliken,
Sarco, Tulocay ground water aquifer. Agriculture is exempt from the
ground water ordinance. Exempting agriculture from the ground water
ordinance is not sustainable. Pumping groundwater for irrigation of vines
could effect neighboring wells
EDEN would like to reference these documents previously submitted to the County
Planning department on other ECPA comments.
Appendix B Soil Erosion and Slope Stability Pages B-24 to B-34
1 Mitigated Negative Declaration Suscol Springs North Project ECP 99-492
Sierra Club Comment S-38 and Response to Comment S-38
2 Napa River Basin Limiting Factors Analysis, June 2002
Final Technical Report
Figures 3-1 through 7-3
3 Evaluation of Groundwater Impacts
*June 20, 2000 letter from Thomas Burke, P.E. and Dr. Robert Coats to
*February 8, 2001 Report by HIS Hydrologic Systems
*May 15, 2002 letter from Thomas Burke to Tom Lippe
Due to significant cumulative impacts and the recommendations for sediment control and
a reduction of sediment delivery in the Napa River Watershed in the Napa River Basin
Limiting factors Analysis, EDEN does not agree with the Negative Declaration that has
EDEN requests that the lead agency prepare an Environmental Impact Report pursuant to
the California Environmental Quality Act, to identify and address this project’s
significant cumulative impacts.