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Multinational Targets the Gualala River

Multinational Targets
the Gualala River
– or –
What if?

Letter published July 2009
in the Independent Coast Observer

What if the third largest winery in the world, based in Spain, chose the recovering Gualala River watershed for a large vineyard project?

What if the land they chose was covered by redwood forest, and destroying the forest to plant vineyards would further impact the river’s flow, water quality, and its endangered fish?

The bad news is that this is exactly what’s happening. The good news is that, with your help, this multinational company can be prevented from harming our local watershed for private gain. The company is Codorniu; the plan is called the “Fairfax/Artesa” conversion, and it is located on Annapolis Road above the Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River.

The proposal calls for 171 acres of redwood forest to be cut down, roots ripped out, water diversion culverts buried to fill a 9 acre rubber lined reservoir, and miles of wildlife fencing constructed around 200 acres of vineyard. Just some of the negative affects include fragmentation of habitat, contributions to global warming, and degradation of the already impaired river.

More information and the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report can be found at GualalaRiver.org, the website of Friends of the Gualala River (FoGR).

This local volunteer organization is devoted to protecting the river from environmentally destructive projects such as this. FoGR was instrumental in defeating the “water bag” project from a few years ago that proposed to ship Gualala River water to San Diego in ocean-going rubber bladders.

This is a powerful opportunity to help the natural world right where you live. FoGR needs your financial support to hire scientific experts to comment on the project’s draft report and counter its unbelievable and incorrect assertion that all environmental impacts of their project will be “less than significant.”

This is the first of a line of projects that are being proposed for our local watershed. The 19,000 acre Preservation Ranch proposal with its 1,800 acres of deforestation looms in the near future.

If you are a concerned citizen worried about the cumulative impacts of mounting forest destruction on water and wildlife, now is the time to step forward. Help FoGR turn this project into a non-starter and keep irresponsible projects from preventing the recovery of an already struggling river.

Chris Poehlmann
Friends of the Gualala River